Will Rajinikanth be successful in politics
After Kaala's trailer release, it's clear Rajinikanth isn't swinging in favor of the BJP
For the second time in a row, after the release of his hugely successful Kabali two years ago, Rajinikanth appears to be playing a contemporary Ambedkarite once again.
With barely a year going for the general election, and the state-of-play remaining utterly confused, the most highly anticipated event in Tamil Nadu is Rajinikanth ‘s expression of his political ideology. The superstar has already announced his intention to get into politics and has even suggested he would pursue a brand of "spiritual politics" but kept short of saying which path he would swing.
Bearing in mind his not-so-subtle sympathy for the BJP over the past two decades, many were quick to dub its "spiritual politics" as something related to Hindutva politics. Some have even suggested that "Spiritual" was a cover-up for Hindutva, and that he, by the end of May, as the big-ticket proxy for the BJP, has signed up for a backdoor entry in the state.
But with the release of the latest trailer for his upcoming film Kaala, in which he allegedly plays a do-gooder gangster who doubles as the leader of the oppressed classes in Mumbai's Dharavi slums, it's more or less clear that he's not going to swing in favor of the BJP or his brand of politics. For the second time in a row, after the very successful Kabali two years ago, the man who seems to be playing a contemporary Ambedkarite again.
In Kabali, in which director Pa Ranjith before — a self-admitted Ambedkarite and Tamil nationalist, had shrewdly packaged the legendary Dalit ideologue and message, in a mainstream commercial idiom, there was no explicit reference to the implicit politics prior to its publication ; but in Kaala you don't need to go to Roland Barthes to get the signs. They are there all over the place - the posters, the location stills, the got leaked, the songs and the trailers.
What made it clearer was the latest trailer released on Monday.
When the first advertisement from Kaala came out a year ago, besides the star, his black costume and the dark surroundings that caught people's attention was the “throne” in which he sits - a Mahindra jeep with the license plate advert MH01 BR 1956 After seeing the Ambedkarite incarnation of Rajinikanth in Kabali, including the Führer 's sartorial philosophy, people were quick to discern the hidden message: BR denoted, BR Ambedkar, and 1956 was the year of his death.
Equally significant was that 1956 was also the year when Ambedkar converted to Buddhism as a token of protest against the caste ridden Hinduism.
When the first advertisement from Kaala came a year ago, fans were quick to notice Rajinikanth ‘s“ Throne ”- a Mahindra jeep with the license plate advert MH01 BR 1956.
Regarding the film as a mass media project for the emancipation of the Dalits or oppressed classes, Kaala looks like Kabali version 2, with the territory shifting away from Malaysia to India and the protagonist here taking on a cleanliness-obsessed national leader who doesn't seem like “filth that plagues” in the slums, and their darkness and poverty.
In the first trailer, which was launched two months ago, the national leader, played by Nana Patekar, clad in crisp white, says, "I want this country clean and pure." In the second trailer released yesterday, the same leader makes his intention clear: The “filth plagues the slums; the poverty, the darkness - I want to change it. "
The quick-witted answer from Rajinikanth, or Kaala, is straightforward and simple: “Black is the color of the proletariat. In my chawl dust scatters in a rainbow. " In the earlier trailer, voiceover describes what Kaala really is: "Kala is black, the god of death who fights to protect".
In an earlier trailer, voiceover describes what Kaala really is: "Kala is black, the god of death who fights to protect". It is also one of the symbols of Dravidian nationalism.
There is another politically significant element in Kaala - the celebration of Ravana, the god Rama as an antagonist in Ramayana, as a leader of the lower class, as well as the way he is extolled by Dalit / Adivasi counterculture movements in various parts from India, especially Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
In fact, when his granddaughter asked about the identity of Kaala, the white-clad, national politician, says “he will become Ravan, the demon god”, while the movie's title song extols his virtue as Ravana: “Single headed Ravana; Wear your 10 heads now. " In the Ravana counterculture, ten heads have great significance.
So, the battle lines are very clear in Kaala: Black Vs White, Dirt Vs Cleanliness, and Ravana Vs Rama.
What makes Kaala politically more precise is that it happened in India, more precisely in a terrain where the Tamil regional nationalism was based on the Hindutva nationalism, while In Kabali, the setting was in Malaysia and in politics that was the emancipation of the Oppressed classes as envisaged by Ambedkar. In retrospect, Kabali became the primer and Kaala appears to be the real thing.
And part of the title song goes like this:
Victory over yourself and this land
Bring you a dream that never ends
A thousand years of silence is enough
Organization, change, revolt
Rajnikanth couldn't have loaned himself to Pa Ranjith before the grandiose idea without internalizing the big picture, because at the audio launch of the film last month, he described the back and forth of processes that both went through for both of them Movies. In the same speech, he also said that Ranjith before was not a person who was looking to do well just for himself but for his community as well. He also said that when Kabali was the director of the film Kaala was his too.
So here is the big question that now arises about Rajini's possible political ideology. After playing as an underclass main character, or a proletariat leader, embodies a Tamil nationalist (black means Dravidian nationalism) Ambedkarite who clearly addresses the challenges of North Indian Hindutva politics, can he get support from the BJP?
If he does, his political career is crash-land before it even starts, because in image-based public life, personal, is indeed political. Probably, two of his recent political interventions have been a giveaway: one, his, suggested performing the BJP and the role of governor in Karnataka, and the actor throws his weight behind the agitators against Sterlite Copper in Thoothukkudi.
The battle lines are very clear in Kaala: Black Vs White, Dirt Vs Cleanliness, and Ravana Vs Rama.
Does his observation on Wednesday - that anti-social elements had infiltrated the anti-Sterlite agitation - change the situation because it appears to be government support from the government, which is apparently backed by the BJP-led central government?
Highly unlikely for a working class mass leader to ask his community to use their bodies as weapons in the fight against exploitation on celluloid (kaala) - that's going to be a curving run by June 7th - not turning around and practicing a political ideology that is completely the opposite. If Rajinikanth does, he will be a sink in Tamil Nadu politics.
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