Time for Tamil Nadu to evolve a new Vishwaroopam

By: Radha Radhakrishnan
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There are several opinions, criticisms and attempts to construct the ‘behind the scene' stories on the ban on Vishwaroopam and why Kamal Haasan was cornered in this fashion. It may be difficult to separate fact from fiction for the ‘real truth' to emerge.

This incident, yet another time, highlights that as a Nation we are increasingly becoming less tolerant. In recent times there are several instances of actors, writers, and many more luminaries being targeted and their creative freedom questioned or criticized. This certainly does not augur well for a democratic country with secular values. It exudes hypocrisy to say the least.

The state in question Tamil Nadu (TN) for several years has lived in sycophancy and eye-for-an-eye world dictated by political will and authority, and supported in several cases by film fraternity - Cauvery water dispute being one such. For many successful and not so successful movie stars, becoming a politician and eventually the Chief Minister of the State is perhaps the ultimate peak they can conquer in their career, akin to every executive aspiring to become the CEO of the Company.

The two parties that emerged post 1960s - the DMK and the AIADMK is full of heroes, villains, character actors, comedians and what have you from Kollywood, as Tamil Nadu film industry is known. These are people who have gained from such allegiance when the party they support are in power and either lost out or even worse victimized when their Party sits in the opposition.

Jayalalithaa Karunanidhi

Call it the complex web of relationship between the film industry and politics. It is not only a complex web, it is also laced with witch hunting of politicians and film folks by party in power. This has now become Tamil Nadu's favourite past time. It has happened in the past, happening now and will continue to happen in the future. No one would have perhaps expected Kamal Haasan, one of Tamil's best actors to be the new victim.

I must say I am not a fan of Kamal Haasan. In my view he has attempted to make "different kind" of films - some succeeded and some failed. Similarly he has donned several hats of film making - actor, director, producer, singer etc., and is best at acting. Kamal introduced creativity and innovation into making films much before Aamir Khan did.

For some years now, fans have begun to expect him to deliver different kind of entertainment and he attempts to do so. I cannot think of any other actor in Tamil film industry who can stake a claim to this. Such a star has fallen flat not because of his doings but largely due to undercurrents of entertainment and politics is a big moment of shame for the State.

With Rs 100 crore supposedly riding on the film, the actor is nearing the stage of wiping out all wealth he has earned (by his admission in a press conference recently). Most of his colleagues have stayed away from extending him support in public implies they fear that they could be targeted next. This sums up the state of affairs in TN.

Decades ago, E. V. Ramasamy (popularly known as Periyar) started the Self-Respect Movement for the purpose of establishing equality where backward castes have equal human rights. This is etched in Tamil history as the most historic event that shaped modern politics of the State.

It may be time for people in Tamil Nadu to start another movement against the State and the political system to stop it from random victimization, vendetta and witch hunting. It is high time to accord citizens of the State the self-respect they deserve. It is time for another revolutionary movement and Tamil Nadu can show the way for rest of India.

(Radha Radhakrishnan is a communications professional based in Bangalore)

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