Chennai: “Kollywood does not speak up on people’s issues”, was a complaint commonly heard before legendary actor Kamal Haasan decided to do a Meryl Streep. Much as liberal Hollywood railed against Donald Trump, Kamal poured his heart out on Twitter vehemently opposing the “Mannargudi Family’s” hold over Tamil Nadu politics. He became at once an easy target for many, including the gadfly Subramanian Swamy.
The political crisis that spawned an open war between VK Sasikala and O.Panneerselvam might have ended sometime ago with a new government in place, but the battle on Twitter between Mr Hassan and Mr Swamy continues to resemble a soap opera whose ending is not in sight yet even as the battle gets personal between two people who are, perhaps, only remotely connected to the centre of State power.
The war began when Mr Hassan opposed Ms Sasikala’s candidature as Chief Minister and openly batted for the continuance of OPS in the key post. Soon he became the one and only target of Mr Swamy, the BJP Rajya Sabha MP, who overlooks no opportunity to pin down his own party bigwigs, irrespective of their pecking order in the Union Cabinet.
In the wake of the Tamil Nadu imbroglio since the death of J. Jayalalithaa and the jallikattu protests, Mr Hassan did not limit himself to Twitter, but opened the doors of his house to every national television channel to flaunt his public criticism of the political leadership. Though Mr Hassan was a knight in shining armour for many commoners and Twitterati for lending his voice to a cause, Mr Swamy, for his own unstated reasons, was harsh in his criticism of the film icon.
“Boneless wonder” and “pompous idiot” are just a few samples of Mr Swamy’s coarse language about the actor who has been vocal on issues that had galvanized the masses – the protests on the Marina Beach for jallikattu and the public anger against Ms Sasikala occupying the CM’s chair.
Mr Swamy targets almost everyone and more so if he/she is an icon, if they support a public cause and Mr Hassan was just one among the many who may have crossed his path by holding a different view on politics from that of the opinionated career politico.
At the height of the jallikattu protests, Mr Swami had called the protesters ‘porukkis’ (scoundrels) and now he has called Mr Hassan names, hence not making himself very popular with the masses.
“I don’t know about BJP but I will oppose this boneless wonder and pompous idiot called Kamal Haasan,” Mr Swamy wrote on his Twitter page, when he was asked by one of his followers whether BJP would throw a red carpet for the film icon if he takes a plunge into politics. And he did not leave there and continued: “Kamal Haasan is a pompous idiot because he deliberately falsely twists that I said all Tamils are Porikis & opposed his entry into politics.”
The actor was dignified enough in his repl, “I have one bone of contention. It’s good enough. Su. Sa called Tamils porikis. Glad I won’t have to oppose him. People will,” he wrote on Twitter. But the war hasn’t ended yet....