BLOT ON TAMIL NADU HISTORY
It was not as if 2018 was all that bad. There were good times and bad times. There was also a bizarre day on which the State turned against its citizens. The Police opened fire on citizens protesting for the 100th day against the Sterlite copper smelter plant, its obnoxious effluents and flue gases. As many as 13 protesters died on May 22, 2018 in Thoothukudi.
The day defined the worst of bad times faced in another year of turmoil for the state of Tamil Nadu. Who ordered the police to open fire? Did word come from beyond the state for this action? Was the situation that much out of control as to fear for the lives of a few police officials? What about the sharpshooter who lay in the prone position atop a police van as if in a battle situation ready to fire on the people?
Remarkably, the inquiries into the firing receded into the background in a typically apathetic state. Till today there have been no answers and perhaps not even an effort to find the answers except in the post-mortem reports that showed young people were shot from the back and the firing was aimed more at the head and chest than the legs as the police claimed. It is up to the people to conclude whether typical government obfuscation of the facts surrounding the shooting have covered up deliberate shooting at people.
The firing was another blot on the history of Tamil Nadu when civil society was totally disregarded while an all-powerful police force was allowed to get away with opening fire on protesters who were peaceful enough for 99 days and may have been driven into a frenzy on the 100th day as they believed justice was being denied to them.
CINEMA IS NEVER FAR AWAY
It was a year of — will he? Won’t he? — as Rajinikanth played ducks and drakes over his political entry. But his colleague in films from way back in the year of Rajini’s debut of 1975 — Kamal Haasan — was surer footed about his ambition. He not only launched his party on a grand scale in Madurai, once the seat of the Pandyas, but also spent several days even in a cinema-busy year to take part in active politics. Kamal walked the talk in going out to meet the people and listen to their grievances and their stories in every nook and corner of the state.
Rajinikanth seemed to prefer to fall back on his mystique to keep the people and his fans guessing about his formal entry into politics. Such an entrance may have been delayed by a couple of poor, answers not fully thought out at press conferences, which the Superstar came to regret. But people around him are convinced that he will be out there in the field of politics to sustain this great tradition of Tamil Nadu in which several leading film personalities have offered their services for the people.
At times it seemed like a dragging play as Rajini let down his fans’ expectations time and again. At other times there was speculation about his pursuit of a brand of ‘spiritual’ politics making him an ideal candidate for the rulers of Delhi from BJP. The actor kept everyone guessing right up to the end of the year. A state which has seen five Chief Ministers from the world of cinema either in script writers or actors might be too tempting for matinee idols to keep off.
KOLLYWOOD DISPLAYS ITS MISOGYNY
The Tamil film industry earned a rotten name in being a mute spectator to the several #MeToo allegations that came up against a very prominent figure in the renowned lyricist Vairamuthu. Not only did he brush off the allegations while putting in lawsuits against his accusers like Chinmayi Sripada but also went on working as if things were hunky-dory. There was not a sign of remorse.
And the only ones who lost out were the accusers like Chinmayi who were denied work and who also had her membership of the dubbing union cancelled by another predator named in the allegations - Radha Ravi. The misogynistic men of Kollywood rode out the allegations in a combined showing of solidarity for the fraternity. The super stars Kamal and Rajini came out with strong statements, but not without riders saying that the movement could be misused too. This wasn’t expected of leaders like them who are supposed to be standing up for public causes.