Battle to control film artistes’ body in Tamil Nadu hots up

The fierce battle has incumbent president Sarathkumar pitted against a rival alliance of five actors led by Vishal and Nasser.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published: October 5, 2015 1:51:32 am

Powerful rivals, a high-voltage election and a love story in the mix. The South Indian Film Artistes’ Association (SIFAA) election — a battle for controlling the Nadigar Sangam or the actors’ forum — has all the quintessential ingredients of a masala potboiler.

The fierce battle has incumbent president Sarathkumar pitted against a rival alliance of five actors led by Vishal and Nasser. And it has reportedly strained the relationship between Vishal and Varalakshmi, Sarathkumar’s daughter from his ex-wife, Chaya. While sources close to Vishal maintained that he would only talk about it after the elections, Varalakshmi Sarathkumar told The Indian Express that she will undoubtedly vote for her father.

“There is no doubt. I have not planned my marriage with him,” she said. Scheduled for October 18, the election will be monitored by a retired high court judge as per the orders of the Madras High Court. As fans and movie buffs track the happenings closely, insiders have predicted a possible power shift at the helm. The rival alliance — known as ‘Pandavar Ani’, with Nasser, Vishal, Ponvannan, Karunas and Karthi on board — has secured the backing of superstar Kamal Haasan.

While the ace actor’s support to Pandavar Ani came as a major setback for the reigning Sarathkumar, he alleged that Haasan was behind the rebel group from the very beginning.

“I have personally worked hard for him. Has he even thanked me for it?” Sarathkumar said, referring to his intervention at the time when Haasan’s Uttama Villain was caught in a storm.

The rival group got another shot in the arm with an opportunity to click a picture with superstar Rajinikanth. Although he did not come out with any statement supporting the rival alliance, he allowed it to hold a meeting of supporters at a marriage hall owned by him.

Khushboo was yet another actor to have lent her support to the rival camp. While popular actors Vijay, Ajith and Surya were yet to openly voice their support, reports indicated that Pandavar Ani has secured their
support too.

Although political parties never play a direct role in the Sangam affairs, the challengers also reportedly enjoy support from the major political fronts in the state.

While Shivakumar — a popular character actor and father of Karthi, one of the five in Pandavar Ani — is known for his close links with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Vishal’s close friendship with Udayanidhi Stalin, actor-cum-director son of DMK leader M K Stalin, is well known.

A number of youngsters and senior character actors, including Prakashraj, are backing the rival camp to “support youth for change”.

Interestingly, Silambarasan — who is contesting for the post of vice president — may be the only prominent young star in the Sarathkumar camp.

While Sarathkumar is contesting for president, Radha Ravi — the son of veteran Tamil actor M R Radha — will fight for the post of general secretary.

The rival camp rose to challenge Sarathkumar after a property deal during his tenure involving the Sangam office building came under the scanner for corruption and alleged role of vested interests.

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