Posted in Politics

Why South India has more Actor Politicians?

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.



I am a Software Engineer by profession. My interests are in Computers, Science, Technology, Movies, Music, Photography and Writing. I love to do a lot of things, but am still searching for the ultimate thing that I can love to do. You will find here all the volcanic outbursts of my creative side as I explore the world through my perspective. Well, mainly fun, what's world without any fun!

19 thoughts on “Why South India has more Actor Politicians?

  1. Interesting post. Incidentally, I have been working on an article based on M.G.R for a couple of weeks now. So, I can share some thoughts.
    You need to trace the star-politician concept all the way back to the days of EV Periyar and the Dravidiar Kazhagam (DK not DMK). The new wave political party used the then popular mode of entertainment – stage dramas – to broadcast their ideologies. The initial stars were all playwrights and orators. Annadurai being chief among them. M.G.R, Shivaji Ganesan, M.R.Radha were actors in these politically charged drama troupes to begin with before graduating to movies. This is common only to TN and AP in my opinion. Till date there is no ‘kolgai verupaadu’ between DK, DMK or ADMK – hence the chronic switch between DMK and ADMK every four years along with promotion of different actors by sticking with the star politician template. Few have succeeded – many have failed.

  2. Nikhil – Yes, they are interesting to talk about.

    Deep Trance – Yes I could have mentioned all of that history, I wanted to mention some of it. But I wanted to remain to the topic and only explain the MGR Phenomenon behind all this. I will be eagerly awaiting your article on MGR.

    Rahul – You are welcome, and Thank you for the inspiration for making me write this.

  3. Nice article. I think it is more because of the reach that they have. They are known to the masses and they always make it a point to do the ‘right’ thing in the movies – overy exaggerated in the movies. So, maybe the people hope that these people would follow their own prophecies…. It may take generations to grow up, as a civilization. But everyone has the right to hope….

    Destination Infinity

  4. @Dest Inf. – Yes, it is because of this reach that they have with People, they enter politics without fear. There is nothing bad in actors becoming politicians as long as they do good things to people.

  5. The fact that actors here are considered as gods and they attract huge masses is the main reason for this trend..
    I am sure if rajnikant jumps into politics..he would start a new party too

  6. I have not seen any actor turned politician in Kerala except KB Ganesh Kumar whose dad was a minister and that helped Ganesh get into movies.

    It was very natural for Ganesh to get into politics, following the good old theory of political families(they were strong in their constituency)

    So,evidently south is not one.

    In the rest of the south Indian states,actors becoming politicians would have been first capitalizing on the influencing power as an actor, and then would have been a me-too effect with more actors joining in.

    So, from cricketers to actors, any public figure who has the power to influence people join politics for obvious reasons. (to serve the people πŸ˜€ )


  7. Nikhil – I didn’t know much about Kerala and actors into politics in that state. This was a question posed by one of my readers “Why south India has more actor politicians?” and I tried to answer it by keeping Tamil Nadu and Andhra in mind.

    “In the rest of the south Indian states,actors becoming politicians would have been first capitalizing on the influencing power as an actor, and then would have been a me-too effect with more actors joining in.”
    Yes, this is exactly I had tried to convey in my post, the new actors want to emulate the old successful actors in politics and hence the syndrome.

    Thank you for your comment.

  8. Thats a nice post buddy. Surely the screen presence of MGR is much more than Rajini’s and what made MGR a great politician is the fact that he was able made all his fans and fan clubs into votes. And still many votes to ADMK because of MGR only. I don’t know whether Rajini or any other actor will be able to do that.

    But now in Tamilnadu, Vijayakanth is getting popularity among political arena. Last week his party’s youth wing conference and I think it’s a huge success. I don’t think people want Rajini start a party.

    And why you missed Jayalalitha? did she done anything wrong to you else forgotten that she is the present leader of ADMK?

  9. Kanagu
    I don’t know whether Rajini or any other actor will be able to do that.
    I definitely think so. It is not their fault, but people become much more intelligent about their choices.

    And why you missed Jayalalitha?
    She became a politician with the Support of MGR and not the way MGR became with his own movies and his own ideologies. No offense to her!

  10. sir this a student frm 1btech sir iwanna know did actor can b agood poltician sir ifeel that only fame of the actress/actor was said wht abt efficiency of an actor to b in politics i request u discuss on this topic

  11. it is a marvolous post because i am not a proper south indian guy but i came to know so many things after reading this article thanks great work

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