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From MGR to Vijaykant, the film-politics nexus continues

S.R. Ashok Kumar

While some of them made it big, others called it quits




CHENNAI: In Tamil Nadu, the road to a career in films often leads to politics. Starting from the late M.G. Ramachandran to the latest political entrant Vijaykant, several screen heroes have nurtured aspirations in politics and some have reached great heights in the field.

MGR who started off as a Congress worker shifted his allegiance to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and campaigned for the party.

Owing to differences with the party leadership, he launched his party, the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which later became the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

Riding a huge popularity wave, he became the Chief Minister, a post he held till the end of his days.

His peer in Andhra Pradesh actor N.T. Rama Rao also went on to become the Chief Minister of that State. Neither of them completely withdrew from the film world after becoming Chief Minister.

When MGR got a majority in the State Assembly and was elected to the post of Chief Ministership on June 30, 1977, he took time to finish his acting assignments.

The last film he starred in was Maduraiyai Meetta Sundarapandian. It had the rare privilege of a Chief Minister being cast as the hero.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, who acted in plays, became more popular as a scriptwriter (Parasakthi and Manohara). Even after becoming Chief Minister in February 1969 he did not stop writing scripts. He continues to use his free time to write movie scripts, lyrics and books.

He wrote more than half-a-dozen film scripts after becoming Chief Minister. The latest being Paasakkiligal, which had actors Prabhu and Murali in the lead.

While persons such as the present Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, and the late C.N. Annadurai also made their mark in the film world, they did not remain active in the field of cinema.

Testing political waters

The successful transition from the tinsel town to politics in the case of some encouraged others to try the same. Sivaji Ganesan started a party, Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani, and faced the Assembly elections with the alliance of Jaanaki Ramachandran. But the attempt did not succeed in spite of his attempt to popularise the party by producing En Thamizh En Makkal.

Then came actor-director K. Bhagyaraj with `MGR Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam'. Bhagyaraj agrees that the party had a short life. "It existed for only 3 to 4 months. Before the party grew, people in the party started became bigger. Because of my involvement in the party, my film Araaro Ariraro suffered a big loss. So, I thought that it best to wind up the party."

Vijaya T. Rajender was the other actor-director who started two parties: The Thayaga Marumalarchi Kazhagam and the All India Lakshiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Now, he is busy shooting a film, Veerasamy.

Then, there is a whole list of people, including Sarath Kumar, Napolean, Radha Ravi and S.S. Chandran, who joined one or the other Dravidian parties. Karthik has pledged support to the All India Forward Bloc.

One person who is making an impact in some parts of the State is Vijaykant. He has started Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam. He is seeking to project his agenda through his latest film Sudesi. Film watchers say the film is virtually his election manifesto.

But that's not all. In the present run-up to the elections, several persons from the film industry are in the news for entering the political scenario, pledging support to some political outfit or the other.

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