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Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022
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Chennai Corner

Rajni went to Mumbai, showed Endhiran to top Bollywood folk, then hugged Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and called the latter his “God”.

Chennai Corner
Chennai Corner
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The Amma saga
AIADMK chief Jayalalitha is confident of winning in the assembly elections slated next summer. However, there’s a big BUT. She says if the elections are free and fair, it will be a cakewalk for her. But will it be? She’s not confident of that. Is this her escape clause in case the DMK comes back after the assembly polls next year? This week she received another death threat. This is the first threat after the CBI was handed over the case by the state government last week. But she has had to fend off allegations that she is setting up a scenario to cancel her Madurai rally on October 18. Azhagiri has accused her of dreaming up the threats so she could back out of the rally “because it was bound to fail”.

But she says she will go and hold her rally in his pocket borough and make it a success. But even if she does hold her rally, will people come? Azhagiri’s hold over Madurai is such that people will be too scared to venture into her rally. Besides, he has weakened her party by poaching leaders and MLAs over the last few months, so she might lose face. She boasted that while eight lakh people came to her Coimbatore rally in July, 18 lakh people came to her August rally in Tiruchi. “Apart from Jaya TV, all media virtually blacked out what was a historical rally, she gripes, underlining that she had to battle alone always and that she has "won despite the press”.

Azhagiri sulks and Stalin travels

If Azhagiri is smart, he’ll let Jayalalitha fall on her face without getting involved. But, Azhagiri has not inherited smart political maneouvres from his father, Chief Minister Karunanidhi. And that is why he sulked and kept away from the DMK party anniversary recently. And that is also why he stayed away from the five-day millennium celebrations of the Big Temple in Thanjavur where his father and assorted members of “the first family” soaked in the limelight. But then how could he go there knowing that brother Stalin’s followers organized the event? 

If there was any doubt that he and brother Stalin don’t see eye to eye then one just had to notice all the banners, hoardings and posters on the road leading to the temple. One referred to Karunanidhi as the Chola king (cholar mannarey) and his younger son M.K. Stalin as Chola Ilavarasey, meaning crown prince. There was no place for Azhagiri in Stalin’s supporters’ scheme of things.

So clearly he is petulant because his father favours Stalin, who is just back from a successful trip to South Korea and China where he was wooing businessmen to come and invest in Tamil Nadu. He swapped his dhoti for spiffy suits and wife Durga, swapped her saris for trendy salwar kameezes as the couple took in the tourist sights including the Great Wall of China.

Sonia’s potential headache

When Sonia Gandhi comes here this weekend for a rally at Tiruchi to celebrate her becoming the Congress president for the fourth time, she has her job cut out for her – to keep her flock from each other’s throats. Congressmen do not believe in presenting a united face even if their high command comes here. The Dravidian parties, in contrast, are more disciplined.

There’s a new reason to squabble now because the post of Congress Legislature Party chief is vacant since MLA D Sudarshanam died in June. The urgency is because an assembly session is due on November 8, and the 34 Congress MLAs need a leader and also need to avoid the embarrassment of being incapable of electing a leader. But the problem is every MLA considers himself a leader and is either aligned to union minister P Chidambaram, union minister G K Vasan or TNCC president Thangkabalu. And none of these groups can sail together. 

Deputy legislature party leader D. Yasodha, party whip S. Peter Alphonse and Tiruvadanani MLA K.R. Ramasamy have their hats in the ring. Chances are that Alphonse might get the coveted post because he’s G K Vasan loyalist. What will tip the scales is his proximity to Karunanidhi and deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin.

On the other hand, Chidambaram groupie Yasodha might emerge successful because she’s a woman and a Dalit to boot.

Rajni  promotes Endhiran

 
Rajni went to Mumbai, showed Endhiran to top  Bollywood folk, then hugged Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and called the latter his “God”. Perhaps after what happened to his Kuselan at the height of the Hoganekal controversy, when he had to eat humble so the film could be released in Karnataka, one can forgive him for covering his bases. Even so, promoting his film is a first for him.

What was not was the milk abhisekams, beer abhiskekhams and deeparadhana for the mega-sized cut outs of Rajnikanth in all the theatres and special poojas in temples. This might be passé for his films though, as fans have done this for every film of Rajni. Three years ago they did it for  Sivaji, The Boss. When Kuselan  hit the theatres there was not such a mega-buzz. If anything, the producer tried to cash in on the Rajni charisma and extrapolated what should have been a cameo and failed so badly that the star, as his wont when his films flop, refunded some of the money to theatres, exhibitors.
 
What fans do for their beloved Rajni
 
Fans also cash in on the Rajni magic – it’s not all mania. But how do you explain about 100 fans between the ages of 14 to 60 from Sholingur town climbing the 1,305 steps of the famous Arulmighu Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Thirukoil at Sholingur on their knees to pray for the success of Rajini’s yet-to-be-released movie Enthiran. That’s real devotion and the Gods would be jealous that a mere mortal evoked such zeal. The fans chose September 19 to carry out their three-hour climb and all along the arduous climb chanted the name of Rajniknath. Once in the temple they carried out special poojas for the film’s success

“We are not bothered about the difficulties involved in climbing 1,305 steps on our knees. All we want is the grand success of our beloved superstar’s movie Enthiran. We want the movie to create a world record by running for 1,000 days,” said N. Ravi, district treasurer of Rajini’s Fans Club of Vellore.

The fever has been building up for several months and has reached a crescendo now. In Madurai, on July 31, even as Rajni was in Kuala Lumpur for the audio release of his film, fans took out a procession to a Rajni cut-out carrying milk on their heads (for abhisekham), dragged a fattened but frightened goat along as they set off firecrackers. Once they reached his cut-out, paal (milk) abhisekham was done, the goat slaughtered (wonder what PETA will have to say to that?) and about 250 persons feasted on mutton biryani.

“The goat sacrifice was made so that our thalaivar (leader) forays into politics soon after the release of Enthiran which is sure to ring in success at the box office,” said Madurai district Rajinikanth fans’ association president S.R. Elangomani. Like I said, the Gods will turn green with envy! Again all this demonstration of devotion probably will not go down so well with someone who has made his name synonymous with humility and who is very devout himself and might not agree with his name being included in the pantheon of gods.

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