Netas In Line: After Kamal Haasan, Superstar Rajinikanth Makes His Move

Rajinikanth, 67, isn't the only cine star prepping to take the plunge that could potentially change the dynamics of Tamil Nadu politics. Last month, Kamal Haasan, 63, confirmed his entry into politics. A mobile app to be launched in January would be a step in this direction.

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Netas In Line: After Kamal Haasan, Superstar Rajinikanth Makes His Move

Kamal Haasan's fans call him a class actor and while Rajinikanth has mass following


Chennai:  Right before superstar Rajinikanth's unveils his political plans on Sunday morning, posters had come up in parts of Chennai by his legion of followers. They promise all that Rajinikanth, who enjoys a demigod-like status among his fans, has to do is to take the political plunge and he will be the next chief minister of Tamil Nadu. One of Tamil cinema's most popular actors, Rajinikanth had announced this week that he would spell out his "political stance" on the last day of 2017, which many expect to be his first big step towards a new day job.

"We will see when the war comes and war is nothing but an election," the superstar told his fans amid speculation that he was a chief ministerial aspirant that the BJP would like to piggyback on to win over Tamil Nadu.

But Rajinikanth, 67, isn't the only cine star prepping to take the plunge that could potentially change the dynamics of Tamil Nadu politics. Last month, Kamal Haasan, 63, confirmed his entry into politics. A mobile app to be launched in January would be a step in this direction.

Politics has been swirling around Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, both adored as legends, but both with distinctly different styles that could extend to their political appeal.

Kamal Haasan's fans call him a class actor and while Rajinikanth has mass following.

Born in Ramanathapuram, Kamal Haasan is largely seen as Tamil; Rajinikanth's Karnataka origin is a red flag for some though fans argue that even former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was from Bengaluru.

Rajinikanth's popularity with voters in the state is tested, unlike that of Kamal Haasan. With Rajinikanth's support - and his famous comment that even God couldn't save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa came back - the DMK swept the state polls in 1996. 

A year after Jayalalithaa, a former film star, died in office, the two superstars are vying for the spot she left vacant.

Some see it as an extension of their silver screen rivalry in a state where many top politicians were film stars first, including Jayalalithaa and her mentor MGR or MG Ramachandran.

While Kamal Haasan calls himself an atheist and rationalist, and declares that his colour is not saffron, Rajinikanth's spiritual leaning is seen to complement the BJP ethos.

Kamal Haasan is outspoken while Rajinikanth is reticent, even self-effacing. Kamal Haasan is at ease spouting Tamizh illakiyam (Tamil Literature) as much as John Milton and Shakespeare.

Rajinikanth doesn't speak much. But when he does, fans hang onto every word, interpret every nuance and quote him on various platforms as though it is gospel. Rajinikanth says he is cautious because he knows the problems that come with politics.

Kamal Haasan had been clear about his political debut long before he committed himself to the plunge at an event to mark his birthday last month.

The two actors have shared screen space in some iconic films in the 1970s, very often with Kamal Haasan playing the straight-laced hero and Rajinikanth the stylish villain with shades of grey.

Kamal Haasan has said they are willing to act together again, but on the political stage this time. There is no villain here. The only dispute could be on who will be the star and who will direct.


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