ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rajinikanth Makes His Debut as a Politician

From Superstar to CM?

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has announced his long-awaited entry into politics. This article charts his rise to superstardom and long dalliance with state politics to analyse his political prospects. It is argued that the leader-centric nature of his party is a mere continuation of Tamil political norms, and that his ambivalent “spiritual” politics must be wedded to material concerns if he is to succeed.

The Kollywood superstar Rajinikanth has joined the bandwagon of top film stars entering Tamil Nadu politics, continuing the strong nexus between cinema and politics in the state. Since 1967, only twice, and that too as interim arrangements, have persons without a film background become chief ministers. Former chief ministers C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran (MGR), and J Jayalalithaa dominated the political scene, for a decade each since the 1960s, in what was the age of Dravidian politics. After the passing away of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in late 2016 and the incapacitation of nonagenarian Karunanidhi, who dominated Tamil politics for more than half a century, there is talk of a political vacuum and the absence of an iconic figure in Tamil politics (Swamy 2017). Does the entry of Rajinikanth then mark a tectonic shift in Tamil politics? Can he bring an end to the Dravidian duopoly? In this article, we will be discussing first, Rajini’s film career and how he became an iconic superstar and second, his entry into politics and its possible implications for the state’s politics in general and Dravidian politics in particular.

Road to Superstardom

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Updated On : 31st Jan, 2018

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