In a State where the film-politics nexus has run deep since the 1940s, charismatic actors have often been crowd pullers for political parties. A number of celebs, after a good career in films, made a career out of public speaking. And some of them have appeared on various political party stages.
Election campaign and politics in Tamil Nadu were always "star-studded" when M G Ramachandran, J Jayalalithaa, and M Karunanidhi held the reins. In the 2011 Assembly election, it was the Tamil comedian Vadivel who hogged the limelight, campaigning for the DMK, but three years down the line he is hardly seen in public. The DMK's electoral drubbing then and the professional rivalry with DMDK leader Vijayakant took a heavy toll on Vadivel's career.
AIADMK had the campaigners' list with names like actor-turned-politician R. Ramarajan, comedians Senthil, Singamuthu, a popular star of yesteryear 'Vennira Aadai' Nirmala, and noted artiste CR Saraswathi. Veteran actor Sarath Kumar was also campaigning for the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, more as a politician.
Despite playing negative shades in most of his movies, actor Anand Raj too had quite a lull but Jayalalithaa considered him lucky if he campaigned in certain spots. Khushboo too was used by DMK and now Congress because of her ability to gather crowds with her speeches.
Star speakers get eyeballs and have a greater ability to bring about mass awareness or convey messages to the people. And yes comedian Vadivelu did campaign for DMK and bore the brunt of his open attacks on Amma.
Actor and director Manobala, who also voices political comments, says, “Of course, the parties use the faces of the celebs to campaign for them. Basically, the Chief Minister candidate won't be able to travel to all the villages throughout Tamil Nadu for campaigning. Therefore they bring in new faces like us to convey their manifesto to the public.”
Interestingly, both the AIADMK and DMK leaders have had a strong filmy background. In the past, both the parties used to have a good deal of glamour with popular stars canvassing for votes. Likewise Vindhya was roped in by Amma while Stalin and TTV Dhinakaran bringing in comedian Mayilsamy and Kala Master respectively. The actors are also paid per speech and it could be anywhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 1,00,000, acceding to reports.
Ace actor S Ve Shekar, who is constantly commenting about politics, says, “It is because of the confidence you gain in the campaigns when a known face talks for you. You need to speak with the public with no hidden agenda. I contested as an independent candidate during my career peak and won the 1989 elections at Mylapore jurisdiction against actor Napoleon who had a political background. It is purely due to the 'known' face value since I'm a Mylaporean.”
The star-studded show, therefore keep alive the connection ticking between leaders and masses in the political landscape....