Prospects for film personalities in TN politics far from over, notwithstanding solitary success in Udayanidhi’s victory
Chennai: June 2, 2021: Only one film personality has triumphed in the recent elections – on the ultimate winner DMK party ticket, to Tamil Nadu Assembly. But actor-producer Udayanidhi’s victory from Sepakkam (Chepauk ) constituency was clearly not his screen charisma, but due to the fact that he is the son of M K Stalin, who had taken over the leadership of the party from his father and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi after the latter’s demise two years ago. Udayanidhi who heads DMK’s youth wing has now become the future head of that party. Thus, Udayanidhi also stepped into his grandfather’s ( M Karunanidhi) shoes in the Chepauk constituency.
However, the story is not that of Udayanidhi: the defeat of superstar turned politician Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Neethi Mayyam (MNM) party forces one to wonder if film stars can rise on the state’s political stage hereafter. Kamal’s Kollywood colleague and Supreme Star Sarath Kumar who pitched his own fledgling party Akila Jndia Samatuva Makkl Katchi as well as another superstar Vijayakant’s DMDK also drew a blank. Vijaykant though could not contest this time due to ill health. But none of his party’s candidates who contested could win. Another very popular film star Kushboo who contested on a BJP ticket in a Chennai city constituency also bit the dust.
Kamal did not have the mass appeal required for the political triumph. Nor did he have prior experience in politics like the iconic superstar turned politician M G R who learned the ropes as Treasurer of DMK party before launching his ADMK, later rechristened as AIADMK to give it a national outlook.
It can also be argued, as a few members of the public expressed when surveyed by a Tamil channel during campaigning, TN voters were of the opinion that Kamal lacked the necessary experience in politics to be enyrusted with the governance of the state.
This was the reason why across the border in Andhra Pradesh, another superstar Chiranjeevi bit the dust in his political entry with his Praja Rajyam party before merging it with Sonia Gandhi-led the Congress party to extend his political life!
MGR launched a new party and succeeded because he had his coaching or grounding in politics until DMK expelled him from the party. Jayalalithaa didn’t start a new party. But she extended the MGR legacy by expanding her political mentor’s welfare schemes. This was In spite of her corrupt image alongside her so-called close aide V N Sasikala. Both MGR and Jayalalithaa cut their teeth in an existing party.
Perhaps, another successful actor Vijaykant could have progressed further had he not fallen out of favor with Jaya-led AIADMK after winning as many as 29 seats as that party’s alliance partner. Had their political friendship matured, Jaya could have given his DMDK seats to contest Lok Sabha polls. Vijaykant ‘s party could have had some national focus too then by winning a few LS seats. But destiny willed otherwise for Vijaykant.
Kamal did not have the party mechanism of a star turned politician like NTR, who stormed to power within a very short time after forming his Telugu Desam Party. And, for all his charisma of a superstar and the screen God-image, NTR could not hold on as he was a novice when it came to administration. His total commitment to do good for the economically backward sections came to naught only due to his political innocence! The alleged interference of his ‘close aide’ Lakshmi Parvathy resulted in NTR’s foray into a territory ( politics) about which he knew little!
However, deciding to draw a lesson from this ignominious debut defeat at the hustings, Kamal Hassan has announced that there would be no change or shift from the new path he has chosen to tread. This statement of his came after two of his key aides quit the party , followed by a few other members, blaming Kamal’s attitude in the run upto the polls, and his campaign strategy.
Prospects for film personalities/Prospects for film personalities
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