Rahul made a comment in my previous post over why South India is seeing a lot more actors turning politicians than North India. I thought I had a few points in mind about this and so I devoted a separate post for this.
First, It is not uncommon to have Actor politicians in North India too. Looking at Jaya Bachan, Rajesh Khanna, Govinda, Sunil Dutt and the likes, they were full time actors who turned into Politicians. But the big difference between the folks up North and South with regards to this phenomenon is that we have South India churning out new Political parties from Actors as opposed to North India where the actors merely try to get a ticket in an existing party.
I am not a political analyst, in fact I am terrible when it comes to speaking about politics, so if you find holes as big as Mother earth in my explanation please forgive me. I will try to project what I think as the reason to this is.
Actors turning Politicians did not happen in South India until the veteran actors M.G.Ramachandran and N.T.Rama Rao did it. As we all know, it was mostly Congress and Janata Party throughout India with a majority of favour towards the Congress. With regards to race, South Indians (from the states Karnataka, AP, TN and Kerala) are considered Dravidians while the Northern folks were Aryans. The drive to form an Original fresh new South Indian party was started from this racial division and reservation of the backward class folks. I can speak for the state of Tamil Nadu that this was the case. The backward classes wanted positions in Jobs and Education since they were neglected and most of the high profile educational seats and jobs went to the Upper class Brahmins. In those days, reservation was an absolute necessity and leaders like Kamarajar fought for the rights of the backward classes.
(Picture: Wikipedia, Still from the Tamil Motion picture – Iruvar)
This was the basis for the formation of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – The party for Progress of dravidians). It was headed by Arignar Anna and supported by many. One among the supporters was one of the greatest Screenplay writer and Tamil Literary Pandit M.Karunanidhi. In fact he was a journalist/politician to start with who involved himself in the Movies. MGR and Karunanidhi were great friends (this is portrayed beautifully in one of Manirathnam’s epic movie Iruvar). It was pure chance and a lot of persuasion from his beloved friend Karunanidhi that MGR took the role of a Politician as an MLA to serve the people. This was a huge event. In fact this I can call the single most significant event like that of a Big bang for the Actors-to-Politician phenomenon.
MGR’s screen presence was unlike anything. In fact with whatever little technology and publicity that was available in those days MGR was probably 100 times popular than Superstar Rajinikanth of today, even though it is unfair to compare both. MGR became MLA and his real presence was even more mesmerizing to common people than his screen presence. When MGR found discrepancies in the DMK party, he had a fall out with Karunanidhi and that sparked him to form his own party ADMK (Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). With politically based movies MGR took ADMK to unimaginable heights. MGR is dead, but if MGR’s spirit stands in election today in his constituency, he will win by a huge margin. MGR made history with his party ADMK. Similarly in Andhra N.T.Ramarao did what no other actor/politician did. NTR was as much popular in Andhra as MGR was in Tamil nadu.
Unfortunately after MGR there was no one who could take over his place fully. ADMK became just another party and it broke into pieces and followed into a series of not so good metamorphosis. It was Congress Vs DMK in those days that made MGR bring out the ADMK and win squarely to give people the much needed change. Today it is DMK vs ADMK and we are back to the state we were in those days. The age old parties DMK and ADMK are quickly becoming irrelevant. To make another change in this equation people wish and people think that the crown has to be taken over by another popular actor who can form his own party and win against DMK or ADMK. This is exactly why actors in South India turn to politics. Because it has happened hugely once, they believe that they can make it happen again.
That is the driving force behind actors like Vijaykanth (although people would prefer Rajinikanth to enter politics) and Chiranjeevi forming their own parties, to bring change to the people. These are folks who probably considered MGR as their idol because they were fans of his when they were young. They have the mass appeal, they have huge number of fans and supporters, they have a strong faith in history and hence they are not afraid to try and do that again.
If there are other reasons/motives for actors becoming politicians in South India, I believe it is not as huge as this one.
My fellow South Indian Readers ( or anyone who is knowledgeable in this subject) please feel free to correct me or add your view points in the comments.
P.S: Please take a few minutes to vote on the poll in my previous post on Stars turning politicians.