TIRUCHY: Neatly dressed and sporting a wig, there would stand a look-alike of some popular political stalwart in the midst of an election campaign. He would deliver dialogues that enthral passers-by. Soon, those accompanying him would get together and break into a song or skit that captures the attention of all around. But where are those artistes now? Where is all that old-world charm in the run up to an election?
Once folklore artists were the core of all such campaigns.
However, it has not been a desirable year for them. It has now become quite rare for political parties to hire such artistes. Most parties now focus on digital media for their campaigning. The pandemic too has played its part. With Covid spoiling other opportunities, a large number of folklore artists are now jobless.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu Lookalike Artists Association saud there are over 250 artistes in TN who can perform as M Karunanidhi, J Jayalalithaa, MGR or even Vijayakanth. In the central region alone, there are over 1,000 folklore artists.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Amarnath, a senior look-alike artist from Tiruchy, said, “I have been performing as MGR at political events for over 13 years. Usually, we would be on our toes, performing at campaigns across the State. We would dress up like renowned leaders and perform till the star campaigner arrived. Apart from major public meetings where one or two artistes perform, most parties are not interested in us now, leaving most of us jobless in what could be a peak season.”
He added, “We had been preparing for the election season for so long. However, as the demand declined, many of us are on the verge of leaving the profession for something that can help us make a living.” Pannai MP Singara Velan, a folklore artist, said: “Owing to prevailing restrictions, parties are avoiding us to save their expenditure. Usually, during an election season, we would have at least 15 to 20 bookings, for both folk dance and traditional music. Now, we hardly have even eight bookings.”