Kaala and Caste

As we eagerly await Kaala, Rajinikanth SUPERSTAR’s first movie after his entry into Tamil Nadu politics, it is pertinent to reflect on the messages embedded in this and his last release, Kabali. Both films are the directorial works of PA Rajinth, the rising Kollywood auteur of Dalit origins who has successfully presented critical social messages with mass commercial appeal. Rajinth is vocal on Dalit issues off the screen and here is an important document evidencing his rage and articulating his core message – TAMILS ARE DIVIDED BY CASTE … ADMIT IT!  – It is a message that is steeped deep in Ambedker Blue and, incredulously, one that SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth seems to be taking upon his crisp new political mantle whose own native hue is allegedly a Hindutva Saffron.

Rajinikanth Cola Advert

While Rajinikanth seems generally to have, as the myth goes, eschewed all commercial product endorsement. the above Palm Cola advertisement is a notable exception. It was made for the Tamil Nadu Co-operative, some say (see comments accompanying the above Youtube video) to support the Palm climbers. The advert seems to have been made during the shooting of Thillu Mullu in 1981. The ad features Thalaiva, Mahdevi and even director Balachandar. The sheer magnetism of the young Rajinikanth gives us a sense of the brute force he might have wielded in the endorsement of products, had he deigned to deploy his brand to this end. The fact that he has not done so is clearly a testament to his integrity with regard to his fan base, his ambition to partake in public life, or both.