Tamil Nadu has historically been a very unique political setup in India, with Cinema playing an important role in shaping our government. From M.Karunanidhi (an acclaimed screenwriter), MGR (perhaps the biggest star of 20th century Tamil cinema) to J.Jayalalithaa (a hugely popular actress during her time), the most influential figures in the political space have all been silver screen stars too. So does it really come as any surprise that Thalaivar has gone down this route as well?
At the time of independence, the Congress party which engineered India’s independence movement was also the force to be reckoned with in Tamil Nadu, under the leadership of Kamaraj
. However Periyar
did not like what they perceived to be the bureaucracy, elitism and “north favoring” politics of the Congress. Hence they pursued the ideologies of socialism, rights for the oppressed classes and various Tamil-first policies under the Dravidar Kazhagam
party banner. Ultimately, Periyar
would have a fallout and Annadurai
went on to form the fledgling DMK in 1949.
Success was limited however during the early days, and the Dravidian parties had very limited traction with the masses in the face of a dominant Congress. This is when Cinema became a crucial propaganda tool to educate people about social inequality and further the party’s own views. Parasakthi (1952), the movie that introduced Sivaji Ganesan and penned by a young M.Karunanidhi full of political fire and reformist ideas turned the political scene upside down at the time. The movie met with much controversy and even a temporary ban due its revolutionary content, but ultimately won the hearts of the Tamil people. With genius dialogues laced with social commentary, underlying themes of political dissatisfaction, and an intense performance from Sivaji who put his heart and soul into his debut – Parasakthi single-handedly brought the DMK movement closer to the masses. The DMK would go on to win their first state elections in 1967, truly kick starting the era of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu.
Who can forget this legendary monologue from the movie?