Rajinikanth joins politics in Tamil Nadu
Published: 04:40 PM, 31 December 2017 Updated: 11:35 AM, 2 January 2018
Popular Indian film star Rajinikanth, who works mostly in Tamil cinema, announced his entry into politics in his state Tamil Nadu on Sunday; ending the months-long suspense which had kept his fans, observers, politicians and fellow film stars on tenterhooks for months.
The film star said to his cheering supporters that his objective is to change the system and bring good governance to Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth called for a political change and appealed to his fans to bring all sections of society into the fold.
"I do not want cadres. I want watchdogs," the 67-year-old said.
After announced of Rajinikanth, first among those to congratulate him was his cinema, and perhaps, political rival Kamal Haasan. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also welcomed him, saying it shares his ideal of honesty in politics. The AIADMK was more cautious, welcoming the actor in politics, but seeking to know his “blueprint” of politics.
Rajinikanth is one of India`s most popular stars and many of his 175-plus films since 1975 have broken box-office records, mostly in Tamil and Telugu languages.
His political prospects appear bright following a huge political vacuum created by the death of Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an iconic political figure, and the near-retirement of 93-year-old Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.
Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians. C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi were both scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers. M.G. Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong screen presence and following among masses.
Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor for three years before joining an acting school. He started in small roles as a villain in Tamil cinema and worked his way up, landing roles in Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai.
The Indian government honored him with a top national awards - the Padma Bhushan in 2000, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016 - for his contributions to the arts. At the 45th International Film Festival of India in 2014, he was conferred the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year.
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