Chennai, Apr 2 (UNI) Politics continues to attract film stars in Tamil Nadu with a good number of them jumping into the fray for the May 8 Assembly elections to done a new role in real life.
A melange of celluloid heroes, comedians and villains, who have thrown their weight behind various political parties, are all set to test their 'appeal' among the Tamil Nadu electorate in the ensuing polls.
The ruling AIADMK, headed by Ms Jayalalithaa, a yesteryear heroine herself, is apparently a 'box-office hit' in the Tamil film industry going by the number of film personalities, who made a beeline to her Poes Garden residence to enroll themselves as party members.
Actors Murali, Vijayakumar, comedian Senthil, directors R V Uthayakumar and Manobala and scriptwriter Liaquat Ali Khan have been crisscrossing the state, vigorously campaigning for the AIADMK soon after joining the party.
Popular heroine Simran, glamour artiste Vindhya and yesteryear actor Sathya have also pledged their support to the AIADMK supremo.
The Opposition DMK also boasts of a good number of film stars as its supporters including leading hero Sarathkumar, character artistes Chandrasekar and Thyagu.
If the AIADMK has fielded film comedian S V Sekar in the Mylapore constituency in the city for the ensuing elections, the Opposition DMK has pitted celluloid villain Napolean against him.
Napolean, who was elected from the Villivakkam constituency in the 2001 elections, has been shifted to Mylapore to lock horns with his filmi colleague.
Another reel villain Ananthraj has been nominated as the AIADMK candidate for the Orleanpet seat in Pondicherry, the first film star to face the battle of ballot in the Union Territory.
However, among the galaxy of film stars, who have jumped into the political bandwagon, the cynosure of all eyes in this election is the greenhorn Vijayakanth -- fondly called 'Captain' in the film circle for his roles as honest army officer.
While some of his film colleagues, nurturing political aspirations, have extended support to one party or the other, Vijayakanth, who has considerable fan following in northern and southern pockets of the state, has chosen to float his own political outfit 'Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam.' Encouraged by massive turnout of crowds in his public meetings, the Captain has even spurned feelers from two Dravidian parties -- AIADMK and the DMK -- for joining them in alliance and decided to lead his men by going it alone in all the 234 constituencies in the state.
Another film personality, who made waves in the political circle recently was popular hero M Karthik. The actor, belonging to the dominant Devar community, capitalised on his popularity in the Devar belt in southern districts to take over as the state President of the All India Forward Bloc, despite being a newcomer.
The immediate elevation of the actor, who is the son of yesteryear hero late Muthuraman, to the party's top post in the state created ripples in the state unit, leading to the expulsion of party's lone legislator Santhanam.
Despite being spurned by both the DMK and the AIADMK, the actor is confident of his party's impressive show in the elections. Though he initially declared that he would contest against Ms Jayalalithaa in Andipatti, he later backtracked saying he would rather focus on campaigning for the party.
Another film personality in the scene is actor, director, music composer and story-writer -- T Vijaya Rajender, heading the All India Latchiya DMK. A former DMK legislator, he quit the party, following a difference of opinion with DMK chief M Karunanidhi and floated his own party.
Despite being a vocal supporter of Ms Jayalalithaa, he could not get a berth in the AIADMK-led Democratic People's Alliance, much to the surprise of political observers. Silently sulking, the actor-politician is yet to come out with his strategy for the election.
In Tamil Nadu, which has had five film personalities as its Chief Ministers so far, cinema and theatre are part of the ideology of the Dravidian movement.
While DMK Founder and Party's first Chief Minister C N Annadurai and incumbent DMK President M Karunanidhi were known for their powerful script writing, AIADMK Chief Ministers M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa were the leading pair in silver screen for decades.
Ms Janaki Ramachandran, a heroine of the black and white era, had held the office of Chief Minister for a brief time after her husband MGR's death in 1987.
Mr Annadurai made an effective use of dramas, films, journals, pamphlets and other mass media to reach out to the people and succeeded in building up a mass base, especially among the youth with a rural background, for the then unified DMK.
However, not all film personalities were lucky enough to win the battle of ballot in the state as in the case of late Sivaji Ganesan, an actor par excellence.
He founded the Tamizhaga Munnetra Munnani in February 1988.
Following its dismal performance in the 1989 Assembly elections, in which the thespian himself lost in the Papanasam constituency, he wound up the party.
Another yesteryear hero S S Rajendran, who was a member of the DMK and the AIADMK, started the MGR-SSR Latchiya DMK, but it came a cropper. Film actor and director K Bhagyaraj established the MGR Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, but it also folded up quickly.
Superstar Rajnikant, who had the opportunity to start a political party in 1996, developed a cold feet, much to the disappointment of his fans. After locking horns with political leaders like Ms Jayalalithaa and PMK founder S Ramadoss, he has finally chosen to keep away from politics, at least for now.