Is Rajinikanth’s aura waning?

The fan clubs are going into hysterical cartwheels over their demi-god ’s new release. But do you know anyone who has really liked the garbled politics of Rajinikanth in his latest film Kaala?

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Updated: Jun 29, 2018, 19:55 PM IST

New Delhi: The fan clubs are going into hysterical cartwheels over their demi-god ’s new release. But do you know anyone who has really liked the garbled politics of Rajinikanth in his latest film Kaala?
 Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, the two pillars of the Tamil film industry, so to speak, are at the crossroads. Should they be dabbling in politics rather than submerging in the process of making movies?
Fans and even colleagues seem to think otherwise. Many of the actors Rajni and Kamal have worked with feel they are making a mistake by going into politics.
A leading actress who  has worked with both the stalwarts feels it is a mistake for them to  cross over., “You can’t be an abhineta and a  neta at the same time. There is bound to be  a clash of interest. Rajini’s Kaala looks like a propaganda piece rather than full-on masala product. You can’t mix the sheer pleasure of the movie experience with the business of politics. Mr Bachchan tried. He entered  politics and  made  political films like Inquilaab and Main Azaad Hoon, and  failed.”
 The problem with Kaala, and I am sure the same will happen when Kamal’s Vishwaroopam 2 releases in August, is that the film is a thinly veiled attempt to pitch the iconic star as a political entity. Rajini plays a slum-god, a messiah of the masses fighting relentlessly for the land and property of the poor.
 It is the image that he sees himself projecting in real life. Whether this image gets mass acceptance or not is a moot point. With  Kamal Haasan, it will be even trickier to project his political ideology into cinema.  He doesn’t have the broad fan-base of Rajini. To get audiences to subscribe to his politics in cinema would be tough.
 In any case, why are  Rajini and  Kamal shifting into an arena that is not their domain? Can an actor be a committed politician? It’s like expecting a chef to moonlight as an astronaut.
 Vishal Krishna who is vocal on many political issues in Tamil Nadu plays the double role of actor-politician very successfully.
Says Vishal, “I think it is highly imperative that actors with a fan base use that base to make a difference in politics. As far as Kamal Sir and Rajini Sir are concerned I am waiting like  all the others  to understand their  political plans. The sooner they come out with it  the better.”
 Shatrughan Sinha who  is a close friend of Rajinikanth and  is an active politician –actor  himself has serious misgivings about Rajini and Kamal’s political plans. “I hope they have worked out their political screenplays in some detail before taking the plunge. Mujhe aisa lagta toh nahin hai.I hope I am wrong. Because politics is no bed of roses.Actors come from a  world of glamour. They are addicted to glamour. In politics  there  is a lot of power.And  power is extremely glamorous. Actors come  to politics in the hope of building on their  glamour and fame.”
But the truth, says Shatruji, is somewhat removed from expectations. “Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan should be very clear on why they came  want to come into politics. Why just Rajinikanth? Even Kamal Haasan is  a very good friend  of mine. They  never sought my advice before plunging into politics. If they had, I’d have warned them about the pitfalls of politics. Look at the way I’ve been treated  by my parent party. I was  given to understand that I’d  be given  cabinet rank. Instead a television actress was given cabinet position. I was only subjected to humiliation and indifference. We actors are  brought into political parties to draw in  the crowds. But when we do draw in the crowds the party gets insecure about our popularity. It’s really a  very tricky situation.”
 In the absence of a cogent clearly-elucidated political  ideology, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth will lean more and more on their cinema to project their political views. But I am afraid that  won’t work. Audiences know the lines in a film are pre-written for the actors.  They want to see these superstars mouth what comes naturally spontaneously from their hearts.
 Are the two Tamil titans prepared for some serious frank speech?

(Subhash K Jha is a film critic and movie expert)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

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