In the sixteenth State legislative assembly elections of Tamil Nadu held on the 6th April 2021, the DMK won the majority of seats and its president M K Stalin, son of previous Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanithi, will reportedly be sworn-in as the Chief Minister on May 7.
When Superstar Rajinikanth dropped out of of Tamil Nadu politics in December 2020 on the basis of ill health, he was in effect, acknowledging the impossibility of religious politics in Tamil Nadu. It seems that neither his spiritual politics nor the BJP’s Hindutva, for which he was allegedly a proxy, had a chance of victory in the political milieu of the South.
In the meme pictured above, Rajinikanth’s visage in a still form the Mani Ratnam film Thalapathy has been replaced by that of MK Stalin. This meme also presents Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the place of Mammooty, who plays Rajinikanth’s friend in the 1991 film.
Both the Dravidian MK Stalin and the Communist Pinarayi Vijayan are avowed atheists.
After decades of anticipation in the Tamil Nadu polity, SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth announced his entry into politics on December 31st 2017. Despite much toing and froing since then, he never did launch his party and then, on December 29th 2020, he announced with finality not to enter politics. For those of us who admire his charisma and spirituality but disdain the Hindutva politics he seemed set to bring into Tamil Nadu by virtue of his patent alignment with the BJP, this is a happy outcome! Thailava Valha! (Salutations to the Leader!)
The above image from the series was shot at the Singapore Art Museum. It was shot during a performance at the site of my photographic installation which was part of the Singapore Biennale 2016. It is one of 12 images that make up the upcoming Kiasu Cowboys Series of the Koboi Project.
The Election Commission of Tamil Nadu has allotted the “Auto-rickshaw” symbol to a newly registered party called ‘Makkal Sevai Katchi,’ (MSK) which is, according to Outlook, believed to be the party floated by Tamil SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu State Assembly elections. The article cites the lyrics Autokkaaran, autokkaaran, naalum therijna rootukkaaran (I am an auto-driver who knows all the ways) from the introductory song from his blockbuster film “Baasha” (1995).
The Melaka Gateway Project is cancelled again! According to the Edge Markets, the Melaka state government terminated their RM43 billion contract with KAJ Development Sdn Bhd. The Edge notes that this mega project had been cancelled before. In 2018, KAJ Development’ had their licence to operate the port and terminal revoked by the Federal Ministry of Transport, to be reinstated in 2019, following court proceedings. Curiouser than Alice’s Wonderland, FMT reports that Melaka Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali has, even after this second cancellation, pledged to continue the project, thereby providing the circumstances under which the project might be canceled yet again!
The Melaka Chief Minister is reported to have indicated that the project now falls under the state’s new economic corridor called the Melaka Waterfront Economic Zone. Sulaiman is supposed to have said, “The development will continue, but we have some technical issues that we need to fix,” which might be read as a criticism of KAJ Development. The Melaka Waterfront Economic Zone or M-WEZ which was announced on the 10th of October 2020 refers to a 15,000-acre sea reclamation area running from Umbai to Tanjung Bruas. This 22km stretch includes the area covered by the Melaka Gateway land reclamation.
The above image from the Kaza Nunteng Porta series was shot in the Portuguese Settlement, Melaka. I made my way out onto a rickety fishing jetty to raise my Rajinikanth flag with the Melaka Gateway development behind me, obscuring the horizon as well as the fishermen’s access to the sea. The rest of the series was shot in Belem, Lisbon at the sites of two monuments, one of which includes the depiction of the fall of Melaka to Alfonso de Albuquerque.
According to Nikkei Asia staff writer Kiran Sharma Rajinikanth said on the 3rd of December that he will formally announce the launching of his party to compete in the Tamil Nadu state elections on Dec. 31, 2021. This leaves a very short lead time to the start of voting which begins in April 2021. The SUPERSTAR is reported to have said “It’s now or never.” Indeed, time is of the essence! As D Govadran observes in the Times of India, his fans and followers have been waiting for over 24 years.
In the above image from the Momotaro San series, Takedawala meets Koboi Balik Kampung in Shinjuku! I was privileged to be collaborating with Takedawala (Hiroyoshi Takeda) who is an artist, a South Indian chef, and a renown Rajinikanth fan. With his support the performance included an Auto-rickshawas well as Mango PachadiDango, a Japanese dumpling with a South Indian filling, that was especially conceived and developed for this performance.
Keling Maya: Post-traditional Media, Malaysian Cyberspace and Me, presented at the Aliran Semasa Symposium, 2013, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.
Please Note: In this video the Japanese term ‘Dochakuka‘ is mispronounced ‘Dochakaku.’
“In the late 1990’s, as our children were growing up in Kuching, Sarawak, far from a Tamil milieu, I was always looking for ways to expose them to the sounds and images of Tamil culture. I found at the local night-market a copy of the 1995 film release, Muthu, starring Rajinikanth. I bought it for them and, to my delight, they loved it. What’s more, I found that I loved it too. Shortly afterwards, on a visit to Tokyo, I was surprised by a large billboard image of Rajinikanth in the Shibuya district. Somehow, Muthu had become a box-office sensation in Japan! Something ineffable in this icon from the notably colloquial Tamil cinema, had enabled the film to achieve its unlikely crossover success in the equally idiosyncratic Japanese film world or nihon eiga kai. I recognized, in this anomalous crossover, the antithesis of the homogenization that was taking hold in the global arenas of contemporary art. “
The second series of the Koboi Project includes an image of Koboi standing before his alter ego, SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth. This image was shot in Penang in 2013. This series which is titled Kedualan Si Koboi, was published in 2015.
“The borders are blurring through art!” – A. R. Rahman retweeted Will.i.am, who as appears Rajinikanth (Chitti) from Enthiran in a new music video titled ‘Action’ using what he calls ‘deep fake technology.’ Other films reprised in this music video are Singham, Maryada Ramanna, Aambala and Kopps.
I have, in my Koboi Project (2013 -present), been using the image of Rajinikanth as a signifier for just this kind of cross-boundary cultural communion. Please see –