Actor Rajinikanth’s overwhelming support to PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the dilution of Article 370 has drawn mixed reactions from the political and film fraternity.
“My heartfelt congrats to Amit Shah for Mission Kashmir. The speech you (Shah) delivered in Parliament was fantastic. Amit Shah and Modi Ji are like Krishna-Arjuna ... They only know who’s who. I’m wishing good luck to you (Shah) and good luck to the country through you,” the actor said. Rajini likening the Modi-Shah duo to Krishna-Arjuna from Mahabharata seems to be in line with his brand of “spiritual politics”.
Usually any political comment the actor makes gets the speculation mills belching the “Will he? Won’t he?” questions of him joining politics.
This time, the added speculation is whether the BJP would use Rajini as a launch vehicle to put its political ambitions in orbit in Tamil Nadu.
Rajini has been open about his spiritual identity, and the Hindutva brigade thinks it can cash in on his popularity.
The actor first dipped his toes into the political waters in the 1990s.
The differences he had with the then chief minister had even translated into scripting the film Padayappa. The lines mouthed by the film’s antagonist, many analysts felt, were his deliberate attempt at taking potshots at the then CM.
He kept coming back with stray political comments, taking analysts on a roller-coaster ride. Late last year, he had even announced his intention to join politics. But the final dip is still awaited.
Whether Rajini’s silver screen mass appeal could translate into political gains remains to be seen.
Tamil Nadu’s “film-politics” culture is already crumbling slowly. Social media has been diluting the enigma of stars, making them more real than reel.
So while the fan culture continues to blossom, it might not necessarily translate into political popularity on the lines of MG Ramachandran.
Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam is an example. But if Rajini continues to turn the hyphen on and off in the actor-turned-politician phrase, he could slowly be leaving political parties and analysts tired.