Chennai: “Evaro Vastharani, Edo Chestharani, Eduru Choosi Mosa Pokuma” (don’t wait to get deceived that someone would come, would do something)
In a scene from SS Rajamouli’s fantasy film, an half-raised giant golden statue of King Ballala Deva being erected in capital city Mahismathi, suddenly starts falling threatening the slaves and commoners engaged in the erection of the statue, who are certain to be crushed to death if it falls.
Just when it seems they're doomed, the said God whose name they were chanting, with crazy biceps actually shows up and single handedly (with the help of a rope) prevents the statue from falling.
The slaves roar their thanks. Mr. Crazy Biceps grins and tugs the statue a little closer to standing upright.
Logical? No. …. Spectacular? …Hell Yes.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is not Sparta. …..This is Bahubali…
Cut the scene and let us see it from the prism of present day Tamil Politics:
The state of Tamil Nadu is in political turmoil, the people have gone directionless and had become despair about their future.
The present political system is not right and needs to be changed; that there is political degradation in Tamil Nadu; that the State has become a laughing stock; that rulers have become looters; and that if something is not done to stem the rot even at this stage, the Tamil people would be doomed.
And just when it seemed they are doomed, there comes “Rajni”, the superstar of Tamil cinema, who is best known for his style than anything substance in his films, to save the Tamil public from getting doomed, taking a plunge into politics with an announcement of his own– “it was time he did something to stem the rot even at this stage, otherwise, he would be wracked by guilt till his death”.
Substance? No. …. Cinema style? …Hell Yes.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is not Bahubali. …..This is Tahalaiva (The Leader)…
In his most celebrated movie Baasha (1995), Rajinikanth played the role of a messiah to perfection and after nearly 27 years he announced himself to play the role of “Real Life Messiah” to save the despair Tamils from getting doomed.
Despite a perceived degrading political scenario, the question is not whether Rajinikanth will be the State’s “saviour”, but whether the State requires a “messiah” in the first place.
As the super star of the Tamil movie world makes an entry on to the political stage, it may be too early to infer the actor’s politics and political intentions or to expect his superhuman achievements that he had associated with in his movies in the real life to save the dooming Tamils.
But, his entry did raise some key questions on whether he is clearing the ground for right-wing politics to take over the reins of the governance in Tamil Nadu, in what was until now unreceptive terrain for it, or whether he is being cheerleadered by Saffron forces/BJP.
In other words, is he getting ready to play the political hero as scripted by the BJP?
His entry speech, laced with references to the Bhagavad Gita and about “Spiritual politics”, made it amply clear.
The nearly six decade’s Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu now stares at its biggest challenge.
The present political equations with the entry of Rajini might very well turn out to be a fight for the very soul of Tamil Nadu, a state that so far rejected ideological politics of the RSS and its political wing, the BJP and the people that always resisted the Aryan domination.
Over these six decades, no one has dared to openly support spirituality in politics in the state. At least not make it their foundational ideal.
But Rajinikanth is turning everything upside down.
To the heroes of the Dravidian movement, Hindu texts represented the hegemony of Brahmanism. To Rajinikanth, spirituality is everything. Though he claimed that his spirituality was beyond religion or caste, its emphatic Hindu roots are noticeable.
Rajinikanth’s entry into politics could change this by making religion and spirituality mainstream political ideas.
What the RSS was unable to do, Rajinikanth, if he wins the next Assembly election, could very well end up accomplishing.
No organisation would be happier about this development than the RSS.
Whether the existing Dravidian parties likes it or not, Rajinikanth’s popularity, which cuts across caste identities, is a real threat, especially if speculation that he is acting the role scripted by the BJP/RSS.
In fact, the entry of Rajini has seen the BJP to get ready to ditch the AIADMK government, which it had been steadfastly supporting since Jayalalithaa’s death.
The ideal scenario for the BJP would be to make sure that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections are held together, let Rajinikanth win and then strike a post-poll pact.
Given the political vacuum created by Jayalalithaa’s death and the ageing Karuna keeping away from active politics, this is a real possibility.
However, the danger here is not merely about right-wing politics taking roots. It is the movement away from a political legacy rooted in ideology to one that is solely personality-centric.
Rajinikanth represents ‘spiritual politics’, a challenge to the core ideology of resistance of Tamils to the Aryan domination, a change the State does not need.