Friday, March 21, 2014

Filmstars and Politics.

       When George Bernard Shaw said that politics is the last resort of scoundrels,he would not have meant that persons from other walks of life are unfit to cherish ambition for a political career.In fact,politics has also been the bastion for many intellectuals and right thinking people, who have made it a field for fair play.Whatever be the motive for an individual's entry into politics,it is one's personal charisma and popularity that determines one's success and survival as a politician.  
      A few decades ago,when the political leaders in India,earned distinct positions through their selfless service and honest handling of vital issues,popularity was not viewed as a means for meeting political ends; but it emerged as the end result of selfless service, rendered to people through a track record for honesty and personal integrity. However,during the process of political evolution,concepts began to change and a platform other than political,became necessary for taking the new ideas closer to people with a view to revolutionizing the  society in tune with the changing trends and attitudes..
    The drama stage became one such platform and stage actors began to play pivotal roles in casually indoctrinating the changing values to the common man and thereby  absorbed the imagination of  the audience through a spell of''willing suspension of disbelief''.Tamil society in particular, which was always known for its profound  admiration for theatrics and effective portrayal of character types, used to be carried away by a kind of star worship and image idealization  to the extent of identifying the actor with the role he played.
      The transition from the stage to the celluloid world, made things easier for the actor to create for himself, a screen image,much more improved and periodically updated by human imagination and technology advancement. An actor consistently playing  the role of a  good Samaritan or of an upholder of women’s liberation and social emancipation,could always magnify his star image and get emotionally fixed in the hearts of a glorifying audience.One who is constantly shown as a staunch fighter of corruption in public life, gets the maximum recognition.Such a hero's popularity always grows by leaps and bounds and the adored hero, eventually looks for other avenues  to perpetuate his image, during his lifetime.Politics is most often looked upon by film heroes,as the right ladder for achieving a place of prominence and the MGR formula comes in handy for them, for a smooth journey from stardom to politics.
      M.G.Ramachandran affectionately called and remembered as M.G.R is a legendary name both in films and politics. Many of the political  aspirants from stardom today, seem to be drawn to his hero formula as an entry ticket to catch people's imagination, in terms of their   democratic ideologies for exemplary governance and collective well-being. But there are two important facts that will make the MGR legacy difficult for exact emulation. Firstly, MGR's growth as a star and politician, was a simultaneous process well established by a symbiotic link between the two fields that he most dynamically represented. Secondly,MGR' star image was groomed with the objective of rationalizing  the society for a dramatic change, through an existing political party of which he was a member.The later developments leading to MGR’s    formation of a new political party and the repeated success stories that followed, added fresh fascinating chapters to the political history of Tamil Nadu.S.S.Rajendran was the other hero of this period who was an active promoter of the Dravidian Movement and he was successful in politics as a member of the legislature.However,he knew the limits of his political capacity and personal popularity and did not develop greater ambitions in this regard, despite the fact that his Tamil accent always remained an endearing aspect and carried an influencing appeal.
      Many heroes in the South Indian film industry, were inspired by the M.G.R model and were drawn in to the political arena, only to be  rewarded partially or rejected with a drubbing at the hustings. Even a classic actor like Sivaji Ganesan,who was a close contemporary of M.G.R , failed miserably at the political front.Similarly, the God image of  N.T Rama Rao could not help him remain as  the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for a longer period. Chiranjeevi,the gloried Telugu hero,started a new political party but soon merged it with the congress party, at the opportune time. Malayalam super star Prem Nazir and the Kannada demi - god  Rajkumar were the wise political drop outs.Kerala being a land of freethinking people,who know to keep each individual in their respective place,would hardly think of resorting to a hero worship programme. Prem Nazir knew this factor and wisely avoided any serious political move from his side.
    However in Tamil Nadu, a soil potentially vulnerable to emotional exploitation,people would keep themselves ever ready to give a chance for political aspirations to fructify from the film front. Ms.Jeyalalitha, whose long term film association with MGR helped her develop interest in politics,has not only reflected a charisma almost similar to that of MGR,but has also proved to be a perfect competitor of her political rivals, by a sheer capacity to wield a controlling whip over the Dravidian break away party, launched by her political senior.She seems to sustain the power game, through a kind of courage, that she alone is capable of.
    In the north, quite a few Bollywood actors and actresses joined political parties and became MPs and MLAs sharing the spirit of their own film popularity and the prevailing victory mood of the political parties.But rarely any big star like Sunil Dutt, Amitab Bachan,Raj Babbar and Satruhun Sinha was inclined to start a party of their own.May be, they rightly understood the difficulties involved in running an independent political outfit.From the South, Soundharya joined the BJP but unfortunately she died in a plane crash.Vijayashanthi is doing her round in politics,representing different parties at different times. Jeyapradha has also been active in politics for quite sometime.
     Quite a few from among the present day popular heroes in Tamil,have been working out a magical shift from stardom to politics with a blind faith in converting their committed fan base into a political core group.They do not want to leave their luck untried, perhaps because of their belief, that, fallacy might become fact any time and what had happened to M.G.R  might happen to them too.This is how heroes like Ramarajan,Vijayakanth and Sarath Kumar began to show a keen interest in politics.Ramarajan in fact began to follow each and every mannerism,makeup and costume sense and theme focus of MGR, in all his movies and finally became an MP for a brief spell,representing the AIADMK party founded by MGR.Even now he is campaigning for this party's candidates, contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections.While Vijayakanth and Sarathkumar have launched their own political parties, the former is aggressively moving coins, with the fond hope of becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, one day or other.Other actors like Vagai Chandrasekar,Nepoleon and Comedian S.V.Sekar have also evinced keen interest in politics and contested elections to become MLA or MP. 
      The power of popularity breeds tendencies of narcissism and creates greed for more power, generated by public acclaim and accumulation of wealth made possible, through the invincible charm of the tinsel world.The star image spontaneously boosts one's self image and makes one crave for undeserving recognition of merits that one does not possess.As most of the mega stars are just the product of the director's creative imagination and professional control, the other side of what they really are, becomes known to the people,only when they  are noticed as,off- screen performers of political or social roles of their own making. So long the stars twinkle in the wonder world, they look awesome and admirable. But once they start gliding from their fancy mountains to the valley of reality,some of them begin to glare.Above all, the political ambition of any film star is nothing but the outcome of hero worship and the deifying attitude of their much excited fans.The fans would do better by letting their heroes twinkle from where they are,like diamonds in the sky.  

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