Kamal Haasan hints at possible alliance With Thalaiva

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Both Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth have been looking to fill the leadership vacuum in the state after the death of AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalitha in December 2016

CHENNAI, AUGUST 1: Before he launched his party Makkal Needhi Maiam earlier this year, Kamal Haasan, 63 had a “secret” meeting with Tamil cinema’s other mega star and politician-in-waiting, Rajinikanth, 67. At this meeting, they decided to “maintain dignity” if they politically find themselves in opposite camps. But if they end up on the same side, wouldn’t they be unbeatable, like fictional superhero group, Avengers?

“That is an easy epiphany but it has to happen… Yes, if we do come together, it can happen,” Kamal Haasan told NDTV in an exclusive interview. “We will have to work carefully on that.”

But he pointed that the two of them hadn’t really worked together in many movies as a conscious decision.

The two superstars, contemporaries in Tamil cinema and now politics, have shared screen space in some iconic films, mostly in the 1970s, often with Kamal Haasan playing the straight-laced hero and Rajinikanth the stylish villain with shades of grey.

But the Tamil film industry’s highest-paid actors stopped when they realized that they could both earn a lot more money if the producer didn’t have to pay two stars, but only one.

Their last film together was the Hindi movie “Geraftaar” in 1985, also starring Amitabh Bachchan.

Last year, Kamal Haasan told reporters that they could act together. But he pointed that their joint appearance would push up the film’s costs so much that it would become a very risky proposition. “…who could afford us?” he had then asked.

“There might be similar reasons in politics too. We don’t know,” Kamal Haasan told NDTV, without elaborating on the reasons.

The superstars, both adored as legends, have been taking baby steps into politics.
Both have been looking to fill the leadership vacuum in the state after the death of AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalitha in December 2016 and the 94-year-old DMK chief M Karunanidhi pulling out of active politics because of poor health.

In politics, Kamal Haasan has raced ahead.

In February Kamal Hassan founded Makkal Needhi Maiam (or People’s Justice Centre), and the next month, gave his party 180 days to come out with its policy.
He has got his party registered with the election commission and told has NDTV that his party is going the field candidates in next year’s general elections.

He hasn’t spoken yet on any possible alliances but was among those invited to Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s oath ceremony this May that had turned into an opposition unity show. In June, he was back in the national capital and had meetings with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

In contrast, Rajinikanth announced his political plunge on 31 December last year and delivered his debut political speech in March. He has announced that his yet-to-be-formed party will contest all 234 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu’s 2021 elections but is seen a little iffy about next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

What about Kamal Haasan’s party?

“Of course, (We will contest) at least in Tamil Nadu,” Kamal Haasan told NDTV.
“In Tamil Nadu, we will try to challenge the status quo that is there. That is the primary purpose,” Mr. Haasan said.

“We are not just there to rabble rouse. We are working on a policy and we are going to be reading it out very soon,” said Mr. Haasan.

The actor-politician has been sharply critical of the ruling AIADMK government for some time, has had frequent run-ins with state ministers on the issue of corruption and came out strongly against the government for its handling of the anti-Sterlite protests and later, for arrest of environmentalists including Piyush
Manush for protesting an eight-lane highway between Chennai and Salem.

The two superstars have fended the question about a possible alliance with a “time will tell” remark. Mr. Haasan had earlier insisted that the color of his politics is not saffron, but “black”, indicating that he follows the Dravidian ideology.
Rajinikanth, who had announced that he would follow “spiritual” politics, has said his “style” was different from Kamal Haasan’s, “even in movies” indicating that he would cut his own path in politics.

But the two have kept the promise made to each other at their secret meeting.
In April, both of them shared the stage with top Tamil actors to protest the delay in the setting up of the Cauvery Management Board by the government. When Mr. Haasan was asked about a whisper campaign by rivals against Rajinikanth’s Marathi origins, he had backed him saying this is not a point that he would discuss in a debate.

Many weeks later, when Mr. Haasan was attacked for reaching out to Karnataka Chief Minister to get water released for Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth had defended him, saying Mr. Haasan and Mr. Kumaraswamy were “not enemies” and “even big things” could get resolved through talks.

First published online on NDTV.COM

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