Until recently, Tamil Nadu was obsessed with the billion-dollar question – Will Rajinikanth join politics? He kept his fans and the country’s political circle guessing for over two decades since 1996. That is the year he sent a shock wave across the country by playing a key role in handing an electoral upset to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Given that our entire focus was on Rajinikanth’s “will he, won’t he” suspense, we did not discuss the chances of Kamal Haasan preceding Rajinikanth in taking the political plunge. Although the signs were clear very early on, we could not possibly come to terms with the idea of Kamal quitting cinema in favour of politics, even as he made more films with political undertones between Thevar Magan and Vishwaroopam. Probably, Kamal’s non-mass hero status gave him the benefit of avoiding constant scrutiny on his political aspirations. It was, indeed, a blessing in disguise for him.
In the next generation of actors that we believe who would jump into politics, Vijay tops the list. And Suriya not so much. Again, we seem to think that stars who do only “massy” films are capable of joining politics.
But, if recent actions of Suriya are anything to go by, the Kaappaan star seems to be inching towards his political debut. Let’s consider his recent choice of films that are both massy and directly takes on politics.
First up, Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. The film is an official remake of Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26. The original film was about a bunch of con artists in the 1980s who looted from corrupt businessman and politicians. It was a simple heist comedy. But, director Vignesh Shivan turned it into a tale of a hero’s journey and he almost gives Suriya’s character the status of a mythical hero. The protagonist rises above the broken system and fights for the justice of underprivileged. The film’s contempt for power-hungry politicians is unmissable. Not for nothing, the ruling party in the state took offence to chartbuster “Sodakku” from the movie.
The actor later bankrolled Kadaikutty Singam, starring his brother Karthi in the lead. The movie talked about family values and mainly issues faced by farmers. The new unwritten rule of Tamil cinema is if a star doesn’t rake up the problems faced by farmers in his films, he cannot claim himself to be a “mass hero.” Following the success of the film, Suriya, in his capacity as a producer, even announced Rs 1 crore towards the welfare programs for Tamil Nadu farmers.
And then came, NGK – Nandha Gopalan Kumaran. Written and directed by Selvaraghavan, it again focused on the “hero’s journey.” The film provided commentary on current political circumstances of Tamil Nadu that resonated with the public mood. Suriya played a farmer, who aspires to clean the cesspool of politics.
Suriya’s upcoming film Soorarai Pottru revolves around GR Gopinath, the pioneer of low-cost aviation in India. It’s anybody’s guess how much politics Suriya would discuss in the upcoming film, whose subject has demonstrated active interests in politics.
His latest speech that slammed the Centre’s Draft National Education Policy (NEP) and the ensuing political uproar that it created clearly points at the growing relevance of the actor’s voice in the matter of policies and politics.
Suriya’s impending cross over to politics is so obvious that even Superstar Rajinikanth spoke about it at the recent audio launch of Kaappaan. The 68-year-old Superstar had a subtle message to Suriya at the event, which he attended as a guest of honour. He asked the young actor to do more films before he gravitates towards active politics.
“Another face of Suriya was revealed recently,” Rajinikanth said, referring to Suriya’s comments on the centre’s education policy. “People said that if Rajini had said this, Modi would have heard it. But Modi would have already heard what Suriya has said.”
Rajinikanth also had advice for his junior, Suriya, who is celebrating his 44th birthday today. “Children nurtures a lot of ambition while they are still studying. But, parents will tell them to finish their degree first. Likewise, Suriya should first finish his degree in cinema. He should do a lot of movies and give many hits,” he said.
“You are still young (Suriya). Just protect the burning fire in you. Because nobody knows what time has in store for you. Not just the film industry but also the public needs your service,” added the Kaala star.
It is clearly a word of advice from the current politician to a future politician.