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Today’s rasigars, tomorrow’s thondars – F’day Spl. article by Naveen

Tamil heroes share a special bond with their fans. For, it is not just based on entertainment, but emotinoal, ethereal and euphoric. It can be gauged with the way these rasigars celebrate the release of the films featuring their favourite stars. 

This week, two actors came out with their own appeals to their followers. While Ajith has asked his fans not to indulge in celebrations, STR aka Simbu, on the other hand, has urged his fans to do ‘vera level’ celebrations and milk abishekam during the release of ‘Vandha Rajavathaan Varuven’. tracks that special relationship between stars and fans.

It was MGR who first showed his fans’ strength and set a trend in Tamil cinema. Before entering politics and becoming Chief Minister, he acted in many movies that appealed to the direct sentiments of the common man and the rich as well. 

His 1973 blockbuster ‘Ulagam Sutrum Vaalibhan’ broke the previous box office records of his movies and it was due to his fans’ love for him.

When MGR was shot at by M R Radha, within hours of the incident, some 50,000 fans had gathered at the hospital where MGR received treatment. People cried in the streets. For six weeks, he lay in the hospital as fans awaited each report of his health. 

He was visited by a steady stream of commoners and luminaries of film industry, polity and bureaucracy. From his hospital bed, he conducted his campaign for the Madras Legislative Assembly. And, when he floated AIADMK by breaking away from the DMK, his fans became party members.

Even years after his death, the fans club of Sivaji Ganesan is still active and celebrate his re-releases of his films.
Sivaji, fondly called as Nadigar Thilakam, remained as one of the popular Tamil actors with a large fan base. At the peak of his career, he had 30000 registered fan clubs, which worked at promoting his image and films.
He entered film industry in the 1970s and became superstar in the 1980s. But he is still the numero uno actor of Tamil cinema and that’s mainly because of his undiluted fan base.

The superstar has fans across the world, including Japan. Right from the 1990s, critics have commented that Rajinikanth has the potential to be successful in  politics due to his popularity and fan base. 
Since Rajinikanth’s influence in the 1996 election, many of his fans in Tamil Nadu called for his entry in politics, particularly for him to contest for Chief Minister of the state. Rajinikanth announced entry into politics on 31 December 2017 and confirmed his intention to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in all 234 constituencies. 

He stated that his party would resign if it was unable to fulfill its electoral promises within three years of coming into power. He also converted his fan clubs into Rajini Makkal Mandram.

Kamal Haasan competed with Rajinikanth during the early days of their careers, in terms of fan base and box-office successes. But, the ‘Nammavar’ deviated from the commercial route and concentrated on content-based films.

Kamal is the first Tamil actor to convert his fan clubs into welfare organisations and was involved in social-service activities through the clubs under the name Kamal Narpani Iyakkam (Kamal Welfare Association).

His fan clubs helped organise blood- and eye-donation drives, and donate educational materials to students. In 2018, he floated Makkal Needhi Maiam and majority of his fans became members of the political party.

Though Vijayakanth is junior to Rajini and Kamal in cinema, he is their senior in politics. He commanded a loyal fan base in rural areas and converted it into political party- DMDK- in 2005.
‘Captain’ formally announced the party’s formation on 14 September 2005 in Madurai. His party contested in all seats in 2006 assembly elections and won one seat contested by him. 

The DMDK, led by Vijaykanth, proved to be an important player in the Tamil Nadu politics, garnering 10 per cent of the votes. It secured more votes than the winning margins of candidates in about 25 constituencies. Vijayakanth, who is unwell for sometime, is currently in the United States for medical treatment.

Though Ajith disbanded his fans club years ago, they continue to show his loyalty towards him. They hail him as ‘thala’ and celebrate the release of his films like festivals.

Soon after reports claimed that a group of his fans joined the BJP, Ajith Kumar came out with a statement, stating that he did not have political ambitions.

“My participation in politics is restricted to standing in line during elections to vote. I will never ask my fans to support a particular political party or urge them to vote for a particular political party. I will not do so in future as well,” he said.

He added: “I have my own likes and dislikes when it comes to politics. I have neither imposed my political views on anyone nor have I allowed anyone to impose theirs on mine. I have never liked my photographs or name to be associated with any political event.”
I do not support those who criticise other actors and critics in a derogatory manner on social media. Because the world does not forgive such acts, he said.

Ajith concluded his statement by saying: “My sincere request to my fans is for students to concentrate on their studies, for working people to fulfil their responsibilities, to respect law and order, to focus on health, to live in harmony and to show respect to humankind unconditionally. This would be the biggest respect and appreciation my fans can show me. Live and let live.”

Hailed as Ilaya Thalapathi by fans, Vijay graduated into Thalapathi from ‘Mersal’. The actor has dropped enough hints about his political ambitions and his fans’ organisations function under the banner ‘Vijay Makkal Iyakkam’.

Addressing fans at an event, Vijay said, “I’ve given hits and blockbusters but what I’ve truly earned is my fans … Ignore all negativity. The two things that decide a person’s fate are: his determination when he has nothing, and his attitude when he has everything.”
In September 2017, Vijay Makkal Iyakkam official website was launched along with an Android App version by his fan clubs district heads to unite all of Vijay’s fans across the globe.
In November 2018, Vijay deposited Rs 4.5 lakh in VMI heads’ bank accounts to provide relief for the Gaja cyclone affected families in Tamil Nadu.

By Naveen


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