Tamils, I believe are genetically susceptible to movies. Be it deifying cinema heroes, putting them in a stratosphere (pedestal sounds too ordinary), trusting them with governing a state just because they solved long-standing problems with a magic wand in movies, Tamils are incomparable. A generally sober and conservative race inexplicably becomes hyper just on the mention of their favourite movie star(s)’ name.I do not think anywhere else in the world you would have
a. Walls covered with movie posters instead of paint
b. Film star cut-outs dowsed with milk, honey, ghee, panchamirtham etc
c. Vijaya T.Rajendar dancing (breaking set floors) and Dhanush fighting
d. Rajini looking fairer than Princess Diana
e. Sarees, churdidhars, dishes named after actresses (My personal favourite – Kushboo Idli, Manthra Poori !!)
And Last but not the Least
f. GAPTAIN VIJAYKANTH’S breathtaking contributions to the world of stunt
choreography –A bulletproof vest reinforced with Pithalai Thambalam that
can reflect bullets back to the villain, a patented kick, a twirl of the
moustache that can send bad guys flying (On viewing, I guess Bruce Lee
would have said “Enna kodumai sir ithu” in Chinese)
But, let me confess upfront that I am an avid movie buff and am a real sucker for world cinema. I vividly remember my childhood movie experiences when we lived in an industrial township. A nicely planned layout with sectors of garden encircled houses, tree-lined lanes, a nice club and a wonderful open-air theater. It was a perfect place for childhood and movies. I could smell a movie playing in a theater, VCR, 16mm screen, even DD (!!) from a mile like an ant sneaking on anything sweet. It was a fascinating world to me: dashing heroes, funny cartoon characters, Coca Cola & Fanta - things that were uncommon in India in the 1980s (a relative fooled me saying you only got them and not water in US taps), mythological fables and so on. It was a magic key to my imagination-CLICK and I was no more a puny 6 year old but a superman, CLICK I was in a American suburban home with Tom and Jerry, CLICK and I was in Mt.Kailash enjoying heavenly bliss helped with generous servings of dry ice induced smoke. It was a perfect escape- the dreary barrenness of school to the sunny warmth of a movie screen.
“Jungle Book” (1968 version) started my life-long love for animated movies, “Thiruvilayadal” gave me a peek into Mt.Kailash and mythology, “Kappalottiya Tamilan”and “Gandhi” made a 4th generation Indian realize the sacrifice made by our ancestors, “Schindler’s List” made me, an Indian and a Hindu shed tears for 6 million Jews murdered 50 years ago, “City lights” showed me the power of silence, “Nayagan “disturbed when I was 8 and still does.
Still movies, essentially seen in several parts of the world as a media or an entertainment option has somehow grabbed a rarified space in the Tamil minds. Having seen 3 chief ministers in the past 40 years and one in the making (Yes, that Gaptain!!) have a filmi background one cannot be faulted for saying that in Tamilnadu top movie stars are default candidates for politics. After Kamaraj,the last non-filmi chief minister,TN has seen 4 chief ministers (Kindly discount O.Pannerselvam, bless his soul!!) all linked to the Tamil tinsel world. According to pundits there has seen a progressive decline in the quality and ethics of public administration post-Kamaraj. Whether it is due to the gradual decline in the national scene (Indira Gandhi era and after), changing demography, charisma overshadowing ability or general decline in public morality is open to debate. But as on date, Tamil Nadu is still swayed by the charismatic and illusory world of cinema. With Amma reduced to blaming her partymen, Thata spending 90% of his time brokering peace between his sons, one Superstar still playing mangatha, one Supremestar jumping back and forth between Amma and Thata and the middle class staying away from politics (it’s dirtly, you know) the field is now open for the one and only GAPTAIN!!
Watch the wonderful scene from the movie “KADHAL” (2004) in which a ‘great looking’ guy meets quack Asst.Director for a chance to become a hero.