Who is the dark horse – Kamal the Big Boss or Rajini the Kaala? The only ‘similar’ about Rajini and Kamal is that both are actor-turned-politicians. Superstars! Both have impressive fan followings. But the way they went about addressing their strengths made all the difference. Here’s an analysis, for Different Truths.
Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. Comparisons must be in order. Especially after Monday’s Rajini-address. The two are so dissimilar it needs no description. At the same time the two are so dissimilar it begs explanation!
The paradox must have struck people after Monday’s Rajini-speak. Haasan himself must have wondered. What must have been Kamal’s assessment of the fellow-traveller? The two are no strangers even if both started on the same journey from different platforms. These two are discovering ‘new others’ in each other to fashion responses to each other’s politics.
It is not acting anymore. It is 24/7 reality. Who stole the march? Who stole the show? Who is the underdog? Who is the dark horse – Kamal the Big Boss or Rajini the Kaala? The only ‘similar’ about Rajini and Kamal is that both are actor-turned-politicians. Superstars! Both have impressive fan followings. But the way they went about addressing their strengths made all the difference.
Son of the soil Kamal Haasan chose closer-to-home Madurai to kick-start his political innings. Maratha-Tamil Rajinikanth was more at home in adopted Chennai. Then again, if Kamal laid out the main course, Rajini chose to feed an appetizer. If Kamal Haasan launched his party – Makkal Needhi Maiam, Rajinikanth was in no hurry to throw a party, not yet. Wait!
Kamal’s deep baritone was impressive. It kept his open-air audience quiet. He revealed his intentions; he explained his politics: What kind of man he was, what kind of politician he would be. What could they expect from such a man and what they should not? For “that is the kind of man I’m,” got it?
Rajini spoke to a college crowd in an institutional set-up. There was a peppering of people his age-group, salt-n-pepper! At times words spilled out of his mouth in a rapid rat-a-tat, like in his movies. But his monologue was more a description of himself than an explanation – a short history of time!
Kamal made a mistake. Kamal-the-politician was on full display at his party launch. But talking to the ‘makkal’, he completely missed his celluloid self. What was he thinking: that the Tamil – for whom films dictate life to a large extent – wanted a cut-n-dried politician? Jayalalithaa was a film-star-turned politician. She did not let the aura of cinema around her personality dilute. MGR made an art of politics couched in cinematic flair. The ‘makkal’ reacted to MGR throughout his political career in shameless adulation.
Kamal Haasan should not have appeared shorn of his cinematic flair on the political stage in Madurai; he should not have been the common man in the company of Aam Aadmi Arvind Kejriwal. He should not have played second fiddle to Kejriwal-the-accountant, the small town radical, who gets bureaucrats beaten-up in his residence because he cannot get his way with the big man in his palace on the hill.
Kamal lost the plot when he did not name either MGR or Shivaji Ganesan as inspirations. To give credit to Pinarayi Vijayan and Kejriwal, and Chandrababu Naidu, failed to enthuse a crowd fed on the filmy fare, fed on his own cinema-exploits and that of rival superstar Rajinikanth.
Worst of all, Kamal deigned to show the mirror to the ‘makkal’; reminded them that they were a dishonest people willing to vote-for-bribes. “I’ll not give you Rs 6,000 per vote, No, I’ll not,” he told them, and if he expected them to be contrite and shamed after that, he is living in La La Land. If anything they must have returned home and asked each other, “What’s he talking about?”
You see, the Rs. 6,000 matters. Money is difficult to come by and whatever comes by should not be thrown away. For a family of four Rs 6,000×4 is a cool Rs 24,000 and if there are four political parties giving away Rs 6,000 each per vote, it is Rs 24,000×4 = Rs 96,000. Kamal Haasan living in his castle on the hill has no idea of the pull and push of easy money, hard cash!
Haasan taking pot-shots at the ‘makkal’ betrayed his finger was not on the pulse. Who is he to judge the ‘makkal’, tell them about needhi and niyam? Even Kejriwal got votes on promises made which he never kept. Kamal the movie-star-politician should not have come to earth, shucked his flamboyance and cinematic flair, the dialogues; the majority of voters are front-benchers, the ones who like to whistle and yell and clap and cheer when the lone hero bashes up 10 villains; when the anti-hero punches with a one-liner.
Rajinikanth is wiser by far. He has put himself in the shadow of MGR, the mass-hero. He says he will “serve the poor like MGR did”. He did not go for a Kejriwal or a Modi to get inspiration from. Neither Gandhi nor Abdul Kalam or Ambedkar. He made no mention of Rs 6,000 or other forms of bribes. He is not going into those rabbit holes, traps, he will give to them an MGR-government, and that should do. In Tamil Nadu, it will do.
Photo from the Internet
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