Rajinikanth, whose cult has spawned jokes of the superstar’s superhuman screen antics, on Sunday said he did not know how to win in politics. For fans, this was the opposite of a Rajini joke, for in the realm of flippant humour Rajinikanth always can and does.
The Tamil filmstar, who name has been buzzing in state politics of late, went on to say that Kamal Haasan, another actor testing the political waters, perhaps knew the secret to do well in politics, but won’t tell him now.
There was laughter in the crowd present at the opening of a memorial to yesteryear actor Sivaji Ganesan, who too had tried the rough and tumble of electoral politics without success. Haasan was there too.
The immediate context of Rajinikanth’s comments on actors and politics was Ganesan.
“Great actor Sivaji taught a lesson for us on politics. He won accolades in the movies and later entered politics. He contested elections with his own party, but lost. It is not a shame for him, but for the people of that constituency,” Rajini said.
“Fame and money are not enough to win in politics. There is something else. I swear I don’t know what it is. But I think Kamal knows it. Whatever it is, he is not going to tell me now. Maybe, he would have, if I had asked two months back.” As the crowd laughed, Rajini joined them.
Haasan did not make any outright political statement but seemed miffed that Chief Minister Edappady K Palaniswamy had not attended the event. “No one can stop me from being here,” Haasan said. “If I was stopped at the gate, I would be standing there and watching this. That’s the influence of Sivaji on me. He was an actor who transcended politics, language and boundaries. It is the duty of the state to pay respect,” the actor said.
Earlier, Opposition DMK and Ganesan’s actor son Prabhu had demanded that top leaders of the government, such as Palaniswami, open the memorial, though originally fisheries minister D Jayakumar and his cabinet colleague Kadambur Raju were supposed to have led the event.
Palaniswami clarified he had prior commitments. He expressed his respect and admiration for Ganesan.
He, however, deputed Panneerselvam to open the memorial, constructed at an estimated Rs 2.80 crore.
Tamil Nadu has a long history of screen stars succeeding in politics. Ganesan’s contemporary M G Ramachandran floated the AIADMK after walking out of the M Karunanidhi-led DMK. He later became the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
J Jayalalithaa, the former Chief Minister, was MGR’s leading lady on screen. Karunanidhi, with whom Jayalalithaa had a bitter rivalry, was a screen writer in Tamil films, many of which starred MGR.
Haasan and Rajini are the latest Tamil tinsel town names being associated with politics. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Haasan in Chennai recently.
Their meeting triggered speculation about a political alignment but the two did not make any announcement.
With PTI inputs