April 11, 2021
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It was an honour that one of the most high profile new entrants to the DMK, Khushboo, possessed till now. But now a self-professed atheist like Karunanidhi also gets a temple dedicated to him

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Chennai Corner

Deifying Karunanidhi
It was an honour that one of the most high profile new entrants to the DMK possessed till now. But now a self-professed atheist like Karunanidhi has also been bestowed with the same. Irony apart, observers point to the fact that someone of his stature ended up as a murti in a temple to his name only in his 87th year. They point to Khushboo, the actress, an idol for whom was installed when she was still in her 30s. But then, perhaps it is more of a commentary on the cinema-obsessed average citizen of Tamil Nadu.  

The difference is also that while a DMK-bhakta is building this edifice, Khushboo was deified by fans. But Vellore district panchayat councilor, G R Krishnamoorthy, can also be called a bhakta because he says he was inspired by Kalaignar’s welfare schemes, particularly by the Kalaignar Kappitta Thithu (the Kalaignar Free Insurance Scheme for the poor). “All those who benefitted from this scheme suggested I construct a temple for Kalaignar and that’s why I undertook the task.” Krishnamoorthy says he is aware that the CM is an atheist but insists that he is a “God for the poor.”

The temple, which is almost complete, is coming up on land that Krishnamoorthhy owns at Samireddypalli near Gudiyattam in Vellore district at a cost of Rs one lakh. And Karunanidhi will tower over the temple in his two and a half feet avatar as Kalaignar. The cynical would say Krishnamoorthy has hit on a surefire formula to get a DMK ticket for next year’s assembly election. 

Watch this space.

Right party?
Nearly 20 years ago, when Khushboo was installed as a goddess not only on the silver screen but also in a temple at Thiruvanmiyur, then a sleepy suburb of Chennai (now it is an upscale area where techies congregate and buy up condos on the beach), Karunanidhi is rumoured to have said that it was time to build up another actress to bring the actress down a peg or two. But soon enough, Khushboo went from a much-loved actress to a much hated figure -- just like the voodoo doll which has pins stuck in it -- after her comments on premarital sex. Even her temple came down and anyone felt free to haul her to court, starting with the highly moralistic PMK.

Now, after winning her case in the Supreme Court, and making pro-Congress noises, she parachuted into the DMK some weeks ago. Frankly Khushboo would have been better off in the Congress, she could at least become a Rajya Sabha member. But in the DMK, with Kanimozhi around, she can never be the DMK’s face in Delhi, even if they make her a RS member of parliament. Besides, whatever deal she made before joining the DMK, apparently it did not include making it to the Rajya Sabha this time. “I am not after party posts. I would go by the party decision,” she has said with rumours flying thick and fast about her proximity to Karunanidhi. But as political observer put it, “Kalaignar is keeping her close to stymie her growth. Top leaders will do the rest.”

Teacher’s pet
Apparently Khushboo's access to the DMK patriarch is causing a lot of heartburn amongst career politicians. It’s hard to believe she will settle for a ticket in the next assembly elections and then a ministership if the DMK comes back to power. Because that’s the best she could get now, in exchange for her usefulness to the DMK to pull in crowds on the campaign trail in next year’s elections. She should be wary. Hema Malini’s is a case in point because despite her usefulness to the BJP over the years, she could not get a renomination to Rajya Sabha. Instead that party chose Ram Jethmalani who not only stood against Atal Bihari Vajpayee but even hurled unprintable epithets at him.

At Karunanidhi's birthday, a few weeks after she joined the DMK, Khushboo was on the dais with stalwarts like K Anbazhagan, Arcot Veeraswamy and Durai Murugan. Felicitating Karunanidhi, she said: “I joined the DMK because it is the only party which fights for women and their rights.” Perhaps she did not realise it when she did a game show called Jackpot for eight years on Jaya TV (which has the highest TRP ratings of all the shows on the channel). But now she has no compunction about rubbishing MGR: " MGR films centred on heroes and had names like Aayarithal Oruvan (One among a thousand), whereas in the scripts Karunanidhi wrote, his chief protagonists were women like Rajakumari, Parashakti, etc.," she genuflected. Even the current film (which reportedly has bombed at the box office) is called Penn Singham (Lioness). Of course, she got wolf whistles and thunderous applause from the party crowd.

She did not forget to lavish praise on deputy CM Stalin and Azhagiri either. For the latter she quoted a dialogue that megastar Rajnikanth spouts in one of his films to the effect that his enemies tremble at his very name. Don’t know if Rajnikanth – who has allowed grass to grow under his feet while everyone speculates about whether or not he will join politics – or Azhagiri were flattered by this comparison. 

It must be said that while the Karunanidhi clan was a prominent showpiece at the the recent World Classical Tamil Conference, Khushboo was missing. Strange, considering her film record should have got her a wildcard entry. Or has she already rubbed DMK men the wrong way, being so high profile? Or maybe she has decided to be low profile after rubbing shoulders initially with the movers and shakers in the party.

It remains to be seen what she gets from the DMK in terms of power, because she’s already raking in the moolah thanks to her successful production house, apart from acting.

Khushboo's replacement
But Khushboo’s not going to be making any more money from Jackpot because she has been dropped. After joining the DMK, did she really expect to continue on Amma’s channel in a political milieu where the rivalry between Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi is personal and marked by vengeance? The show’s producers K P Sunil, who happens to head the news section in Jaya TV, and his wife Hema have zeroed in on Nadhiya as a replacement, whose stint in Kollywood included different roles starting with Poovae Poochudava. She made a comeback recently in a range of films including Thamirabarani and Sandai.


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