A 1995 dialogue that Rajinikanth spoke on screen in Muthu has gotten a clarification 22 years later.

In the superhit film, Rajini, in a politically loaded line says, “Naan Eppo varuven, eppadi varuvennu yarukkum theriyathu. Eppo varunamo appo correct-aa varuven (When, where and how I will make an entry, no one will know. But when I do make one, it will be at the right time).

Rajinikanth in a still from Kabali.

On 26 December, Rajinikanth announced the time is just five days away. Which means just before 2017 is history, the Superstar will announce if he will enter politics. Though just in case it be construed as an affirmation of his political plunge, Rajini issued a health warning.

“I am not saying I will come into politics. I said I will announce my decision on 31st,” he said.

This is typical of the man. To keep everyone guessing, trying to read his mind. He has done that for over two decades ever since he condemned Jayalalithaa to defeat in 1996. Throwing his weight behind the DMK-Tamil Maanila Congress combine then, Rajinikanth said, “Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa returns to power”. All the DMK had to do was to play this line at its public meetings, to throw the AIADMK out of power. Ever since the ‘will he, won’t he‘ question has dogged Rajini all the way.

If he does announce his entry into politics, it will be the biggest blockbuster of 2017.

It’s been a year that saw the Marina uprising over Jallikattu, Panneerselvam’s dramatic revolt, Sasikala’s conviction, Kamal Haasan’s political plunge and the RK Nagar surprise. Rajini, despite the skeptics doubting his ability to deliver a political superhit, will have the ability to create ripples in the Cauvery.

The timing of his entry is extremely significant. It comes within days of the RK Nagar verdict where each one of the established political players was a loser. The ruling party suffered a humiliating loss and worse was the fate of the DMK, that would have hoped to mop up the anti-AIADMK votes. It lost its deposit as did the BJP, seen to be punching above its weight in Tamil Nadu on the back of its power in New Delhi. TTV Dhinakaran even though he won the battle from the constituency, is deemed to be corrupt and there are many who resent the return to power of Sasikala and the Mannargudi family by proxy if he goes on to topple the government.

What it shows is that there exists a political vacuum at the moment. Though it may not be very accurate to extrapolate the RK Nagar verdict to the entire state, it does indicate a sense of dissatisfaction with the ruling party. At the same time, the manner in which the DMK has lost shows that people do not see it as the automatic alternative. Dhinakaran admittedly gained in RK Nagar but it also means Rajini can fancy his chances in this political vacuum.

So will Tamil Nadu politics become a case of Rajini vs Kamal, should the former announce his plans this Sunday?

Rajinikanth fans who had assembled in Chennai pointed out that the two superstars made it a point through out their career never to clash at the box office. “Ideally they should be in politics together and if that is not possible, one of them should make way for the other,” said Madhusudanan, one Rajini fan who had come to get a picture clicked with his idol.

Kamal Haasan. Image from News 18.

Through 2017, Kamal emerged as the voice of the people of Tamil Nadu, with the actor using Twitter to express himself on a variety of issues agitating the people – be it corruption, NEET, environmental issues or acts of terror. But since mid-November, while in the US to finish work on Vishwaroopam 2, Kamal has been silent on just about everything.

Does Tamil Nadu want a part-time politician is a question that is being asked and Kamal has done great disservice to his nascent political career by taking a sabbatical from public life at this moment.

Even in terms of a connect, Rajini is seen as easier to understand despite his tendency to couch his thoughts in spiritual clothing. Kamal, in contrast, comes across as an intellectual, more Shashi Tharoor-ish in expression in Tamil.

Rajini has two releases lined up in 2018 and they seem the right vehicles to launch him mega-size. Tamil Nadu has always liked its leaders to be larger than life, be it MGR or Jayalalithaa and Rajini will fit the bill. While Shankar’s 2.0 will reaffirm Rajini’s status as a box office hit besides appealing to the youth with its sci-fi 3D entertainer content, Kaala will target the socially backward classes in Tamil Nadu. Like MGR, it seems Rajini is going to appeal to the electorate through the big screen.


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