Donning colourful robes, the stalwarts were famous for and with a rich make-up, these artistes come live under the arc lights, perform song sequences, skits or deliver crisp dialogues loaded with the "punch element," to enthral the crowd.
These look-alikes also perform the role of communicators to the electorate for the political party that has hired them. The performances happen before the start of a political party's public meeting or an election rally.
"Artistes not only retain audience-interest, but also deliver the much sought after political message subtly," Robo Satish, a mimicry artiste who coordinates several look-alike professionals, told PTI.
"The MGR look-alike is the most popular and much demanded personality," he said. In AIADMK rallies, especially in rural and semi-urban regions, "MGR" appears without fail to cheer the electorate.
Thiagarajan, who has been performing as MGR for over 25 years, said songs like "Naan Aanayitaal" and "Ulagam Piranthathu Enakkaga," enthrall the audience although the songs were nearly half a century old.
"Such songs are tweaked to convey the political message as well," he said. Also, appearances of "Jayalalithaa Mallika" a look-alike of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in AIADMK rallies enlivens party supporters while at DMK meetings, it is Salem Ramanathan, a Karunanidhi double who cheers the gatherings.
There are at least 50 look-alikes of popular leaders in Tamil Nadu who make the electioneering colourful.
Look-alikes are used for sending political messages to the mass and add colour.
During DMDK poll meetings, Kumar, besides resembling party chief Vijayakanth, also mimics his voice that energises party workers. During elections, the demand for such artistes peaks with several meetings to cover in a day.
During the peak election season, the fee for performances range anywhere between Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 depending on the duration.
"Elections comes only once in five years. We cannot depend on this all the time. So, we take part in cultural programmes and have performed in several countries including Malaysia and Singapore," said Satish.
In Tamil Nadu, where movies and actors are being used for politics and campaigning for more than fifty years, film personalities chipping in during electioneering is not new. This time too, actors are around street corners seeking votes for the candidates in the April 24 polls. Popular comedians Senthil, Singamuthu and actresses Kuyili and Vennira Adai Nirmala are among those from Kollywood now busy campaigning for the ruling AIADMK.
Actress Kushbu, comedians Kumari Muthu and Vasu Vikram will hit the campaign trail soon for the DMK.