A 'Mersel' political plunge; Vijay sets eyes on film-to-politics winners club

07:26 PM Feb 02, 2024 | PTI |

At last, it has happened. Actor Vijay is the newest and top rated Tamil actor to join politics in keeping with Tamil Nadu’s long time tradition of actors taking the political plunge, with a couple of them having gone to rule the state.


The actor, whose apparent ant-GST dialogues in his 2017 action flick ‘Mersel’ ruffled the feathers of the state BJP unit, announced his political party ”Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam” on Friday. Tamil word ‘Mersel’ could be roughly translated as causing fear. In the context of this Atlee-directed film it meant daring righteous acts. By the early 1950’s, the Dravidian movement had set a definitive trend of using drama and cinema for disseminating its ideals.

Dravidian icon–DMK founder and former Chief Minister CN Annadurai’s writings, plays and films undoubtedly cast a spell on the people and the Tamil film makers. The grand success his follower and late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi in Tamil literary and film world is history.

Vijay’s announcement of political entry on Friday, while being at the peak of his popularity and success in cinema, at a relatively young age of 49 is in a sense, exceptional. Charismatic leader, AIADMK founder and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran dabbled in both politics and cinema since the early 1950’s, when he was in his mid 30’s and his protege J Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK when she was 34.

The scale of success of the two leaders in electoral politics and in running the party with complete control is legendary. Apart from MGR and Jayalalithaa, no other actor, till date, was able repeat their success. Karunanidhi was an orator and writer par excellence and hence he could not be brought under the actor bracket.


Barring MGR and Jayalalithaa, ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth was the only person from the filmdom to achieve considerable success in electoral politics. He became the Leader of Opposition in 2011, though it was following an electoral alliance with the AIADMK.

For Kamal Haasan, who continues to experience the adulation of fans and people, electoral success has been elusive. His involvement and that of his party, the 6 year-old Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) in everyday politics is anyone’s guess. The party contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2021 Assembly elections.

Legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan, a Congress man, floated his own political party and eventually quit politics following his defeat in 1989 in the Tiruvaiyaru Assembly segment in Thanjavur district. Renowned Tamil actor Sarath Kumar, a former DMK MP, continues to run his ‘Akila Indiya Samathuva Makkal Katchi.’ Actors who floated political parties without any success include Karthik, K Bhagyaraj and T Rajendar, also a filmmaker.

Actor Napolean joined the DMK and was elected MP and became a Union Minister of State. Later, he joined the BJP and is now settled in the USA. Actor Khushbu Sundar is active in the Saffron party.

As Vijay himself declared that he has prepared for a long time for his political innings ‘by learning lessons’ on political nuances from seniors, how well is the actor poised for the political game? While his fans who burst firecrackers and distributed food here to people to mark the announcement of the launch of his ”Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam” were confident of an inspiring leadership, political pundits are cautious.

Noted political analyst Sumanth Raman said successfully running a political party by itself is a very difficult task and achieving in politics is more difficult.

”Take Pawan Kalyan (top star who heads Jana Sena in Andhra Pradesh) for instance. Only time will tell (whether Vijay wins in politics or not)…we have to wait and see. He has to specify his policies and the ways through which he will implement them. People will listen to him given his popularlity. But the quality of message matters,” Raman said.

A young fruit vendor said ”the young people will for sure back Vijay, you need not have any doubt about it.” Actor Ramarajan joined the AIADMK, became an MP and he is not active for many years now.

When there were sure signs of Superstar Rajinikanth joining politics around 2018, he was nearing 70 years of age and by the time he decided against it in 2021, crossed 70.

Kamal Haasan launched his party MNM in 2018 when he was 63 years old. Vijayakanth, when he launched the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam in 2005, he was 53.


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