‘Sarkar’: Is Thalapathy Vijay Taking the Political Route?

Unprecedented hype surrounds Vijay’s Sarkar directed by AR Murgadoss and produced by Sun Pictures. The film has been trending worldwide ever since its trailer went viral; Vijay’s speech laced with political innuendos at the audio launch of the film amplified the buzz.

Plagiarism charges against Sarkar director AR Murgadoss, further fuelled the controversies surrounding the film. Assistant director Varun Rajendran had said that the basic theme of the film was similar to a script he had penned. The matter was settled out of court with Murgadoss agreeing to add a 30-second card before the credits, stating that the basic theme of his script was similar to that of Varun.

Sarkar in Tamil with a Telugu dubbed version is releasing worldwide on Diwali day – 6 November (celebrated in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday), in 3000 plus screens, the biggest for a Tamil film. The film is produced by Sun Pictures owned by Kalanithi Maran who is getting back into production 8 years after Rajinikanth’s Shankar directed sci-fi entertainer Endhiran’s (Robo) theatrical rights worldwide were pre-sold for more than Rs 100 crore, putting Vijay on the same pedestal as Rajinikanth.

Vijay according to the Tamil film trade is currently the biggest star in the state. Vijay’s last release Mersal (2017) was a super hit which earned over Rs 100 crore at the box office. The star lovingly called Thalapathy (leader) has a vast reach in Kerala too - as massive as Mohanlal or Mammootty. Take a look at the Sarkar release in Kerala – 402 screens out of the 620 in the state and nearly 43 screens with round-the-clock screening on day one!

Abirami Ramanathan, leading distributor and exhibitor says : “In my book Vijay is currently the biggest star who has the best reach across all sections of the audiences and has a terrific opening. Sarkar which I’m distributing in Chennai city will have almost 65% of the screens in the city playing daily five shows till Sunday (11 Nov). There is only one word to describe the advance booking for the film – Phenomenal!” Vijay is also one of the most popular Tamil heroes in the lucrative overseas market. And with Sarkar (Telugu) releasing simultaneously in Andhra and Telangana, Vijay is all set to conquer his last frontier.

And the way his films were targeted by the late chief minister Jayalalithaa, also raised the actor’s political stocks. Last year his Mersal turned out to be a big hit as it had a lot of political references and it also hit out against GST.

The buzz is that Vijay is keen to enter the murky world of Tamil politics. When the anchor hosting the Sarkar audio launch show asked Vijay, whether he is playing the chief minister in the film, Vijay answered: “If I become chief minister, then I won’t just act like one, but will do my job with sincerity. The first thing I would like to do if I become CM is to make the state corruption-free. Only when the leader is corruption free will the state progress.”

Vijay’s speech went viral as the common man believed that he is echoing their views. It slammed the ruling AIADMK and E.Palanisamy government in Tamil Nadu, facing massive corruption charges. This has led to the ruling party in Tamil Nadu ensuring that Sarkar does not get early morning shows (4 am or 5 am) associated with superstars and illustrating their reach.

Tamil cinema’s big super heroes like Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith always have early morning shows mostly fan shows, where cut-outs of the actors receive paal abhishekam (milk bath) with cracker bursting (especially during Diwali).

Tamil cinema’s big super heroes like Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith always have early morning shows mostly fan shows, where cut-outs of the actors receive paal abhishekam (milk bath) with cracker bursting (especially during Diwali).

In Tamil Nadu the state government controls cinema including show timing and price of tickets. As per the Tamil Nadu government only four shows can be screened daily and a fifth show only on public holidays and festivals. This time the state government issued a G.O that due to Deepavali five shows can be screened during the week but only between 9 am and 1.30 am. The fans see this as another instance of the state government taking on Vijay, as there will not be any early morning shows.

Now the Sarkar story itself is steeped in politics. Vijay plays an NRI tycoon from USA, who comes to India to cast his vote in an assembly election. Vijay’s character according to Murgadoss is based on Google-CEO, Sundar Picchai who completed his early education in Chennai. In fact Vijay’s character is named Sundar in the film. On Election Day he finds that someone has already cast his vote! This provokes him as he decides to fight back and cleanse the electoral system. An overseas distributor who saw Sarkar said: “Mark my words, the impact of Sarkar will be seen in the next assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. The film is the most political Vijay film ever.”

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