Historically, until recently, Bollywood has had an unwritten rule of not mixing cinema and politics overtly. Members of the fraternity don’t easily own up to political allegiance, and even when they do join a party, they are well past the prime of their careers, for example Jaya Bachchan or Jaya Prada. It is only recently that some of them, both men and women like Kangana Rananut, Vivek Oberoi, Anurag Kashyap, Tapsee Pannu, Swara Bhaskar, have openly taken a political stance.
But this is not the case down south, especially in Tamil Nadu. Cinema and politics here are so intertwined and entangled with each other, they can give the cables of any earphone a run for its money. While the political and film careers of personalities like Kalaignar M Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran, J Jayalalithaa, Vijayakanth, Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan might be more obvious, there are a host of other film personalities who have worn their politics on their sleeves. This includes actors Sivaji Ganesan, Sathyaraj, K Bhagyaraj, Sarath Kumar, Khushbhu Sundar, Ramarajan, Karthik and S Ve Shekher among others. So when a Tamil film personality speaks openly on electoral politics, Tamil identity or socio-political issues, they are merely doing what is expected out of them. This is more so true for male actors who aspire to become stars.
The rise of any male film star almost always follows a familiar trajectory. In the initial phase of their career, they act in romantic, comedic or family oriented roles. Here the actor attempts to prove his versatility as a performer. After a successful run through this stage, he moves on to action based films. The entry into the action genre is considered an important shift in the actor’s career and it mostly begins with the actor playing a cop. This is then followed by other commercial entertainers in the same genre. The actor’s hold on his fans and the market is solidified in this phase and he rises to become a star.