Of late, the SUPERSTAR’s sign (semiotically speaking) was being reconstituted as a unity of two distinct signifiers – one being that of the established screen ‘hero’ and the other, the emerging ‘politician’. Both these signifies had, in the run-up to the release of PA Ranjith’s Dalit-Bahujan (the proletariat majority in the context of Indian caste society) gangster flick Kaala, seemed to be coalescing to signify something like … ‘Common (Tamil) People’s Leader’. In the wake of the Thoothukudi police massacre, however, Rajinikanth’s response, seem to have created a sudden and impactful aporia or space of internal contradiction within this singular signification.
Who is the Superstar Rajinikanth?! ….
As Rajinikanth invests his SUPERSTAR capital in the Tamil Nadu political arena, there is a lot of speculation about his future allegiances and alignments. For those, who like me lament the rise of Hindu Nationalism in Indian politics, the concern is that the waning post-independence secularism in Tamil Nadu politics will finally be dissolved in an alliance between our Thalaivar and Narendra Modhi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In his speech announcing his entry into politics, Rajnikanth is reported to have said, “We have to create a spiritual politics with no caste and religion barrier. My cornerstones would be honesty, transparency, secularity and spiritual politics. Spiritual politics according to me means fair and just politics.” This statement seems wide open in its possible interpretations. Rajnikanth could indeed end up being , wittingly or otherwise, a Trojan Horse bearing Hindutva cadres into the hitherto atheistic milieu of Tamil Nadu politics. On the other hand, it is possible that his statement carries within it the promise of a new post-atheistic post-traditional polity – one that sets the Tamil peoples inherent sacral tendencies within a trans-communal and multi-religious ethos. It might seem be too much to ask of a mere movie star, but in the story of Tamil Nadu there have been no leaders as powerful as Annadurai, MGR, Karunanithi and Jayalalitha …..movie people all!