CHENNAI: In a rare show of unity, rarely seen among the various factions and associations in Kollywood, over 3000 artistes observed a day-long fast to show their solidarity with former CM J Jayalalithaa.
After deciding to stop screening of films across the State and cancelling all film shoots on Tuesday, a veritable horde of technicians, actors, producers and the like had gathered at the venue by 9 am. Sarathkumar, Sathyaraj and Prabhu were amongst the earliest to arrive, with their sons in tow. “We are not here protesting against the verdict of the court, but we are pained and anguished that our Amma has been put in jail. As one united film industry, this is us, showing our angst and pain,” said comedian Vivekh.
United by spirit, but divided by a stage was on show. While actors and producers had access to centre stage, the technicians and workers had to manage under a shamiana. The fast had been organised, possibly for the first time, under the simple banner of the Tamil Thirai Ulagam (Tamil Film Industry), which comprised bodies like the Nadigar Sangam, TANTIS, FEFSI, TFPC and others. As it was a silent protest, there were no orations, exhortations or displays of sentiment - people just sat till 5 pm, catching up with industry folk whom they hadn’t seen for a while.
What was truly heartening to behold, amongst the clutter of humanity blocking either lane of Walajah Road outside the MAC stadium, was the presence of industry veterans. Actors like Vennira Aadai Nirmala, Sachu and producers like Muktha Srinivasan - well advanced in years and barely able to cope with the strain - arrived on time and undertook the fast for as long as possible. Rajinikanth and Kamal, the two mainstays of K-town had sent word that they were in Bangalore and Kerala respectively, and were thus unable to attend. In contrast, a large portion of Kollywood’s ‘It’ crowd, including actors Jiiva, Vijay Sethupathy, Vikram, Karthi and Suriya arrived only in the afternoon, and did not stay for a great length of time.
[With inputs from Siddharth Mathew Cherian]