NTR, “The Last ‘Hero’ of Indian Politics”?

NTR, TDP, NTR Birthday
The title ‘The Last Hero of Indian Politics’ may amaze the readers but the word HERO is rather used figuratively in Indian literary context and predominantly while referring to Heroes of Silver Screen vis-à-vis Heroes in life

This item looks into the possibility if any prominent filmy hero from any state rewrites the political history either in his state or at national level, with several film stars like Kamal Hassan, Prakash Raj, Seeman, Pawan Kalyan, Sunny Deol and others throwing their hats into elections 2019 ring in their respective states. Nevertheless analyzing the present Indian politics and the recent election results it may not be impulsive to conclude that the above query may remain a wish. In the recent elections Pawan Kalyan in Andhra Pradesh and Kamal Hassan and Seeman in Tamil Nadu contested in elections through their own political outfits, while others like Prakash Raj (Karnatak), Sunny Deol (Punjab) and several others contested on behalf of other parties. Pawan Kalyan and Kamal Hassan could garner some votes but couldn’t win any seats. In AP Pawan Kalyan succeeded in spoiling the chances of TDP in more than 2 dozen constituencies. Kamal Hassan, one of the top actors in India, and his party Makkal Needhi Mayyam (MNM) couldn’t get deposits in all the seats it contested. In 2009, Pawan’s big brother and Mega Star of Telugu Film Industry, Chiranjeevi tried his hand in politics but could win just 18 assembly seats. Latter he merged his party Prajarajyam in Congress.  

The last one who entered into politics renouncing a flourishing and wealthy filmy career and scripted a success story was Late Shri Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao from Andhra Pradesh in 1983. Prior to him it was his Tamil contemporary Maruthuru Gopala Ramachandran (MGR) who rewrote the history of Tamil politics by becoming the first film actor to become a Chief Minister in India. And NTR is the second. Incidentally both the heroes are famous for their mythological roles and folklore movies.  

But unlike NTR for whom launching a political party, contesting elections, and sweeping them to come to power just happened in a span of 12 months, MGR was into politics for decades before launching his own party AIADMK in 1972. MGR joined Indian National Congress during his tender years even before he was into films. But during 1940s, when MGR was at zenith of his career he joined Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in early 50s attracted by its founder C.Annadurai. Post the death of Annadurai he differed with his friend Karunanidhi, who expelled MGR from DMK 1972.  MGR than started his own party AIADMK and won the battle against Karunanidhi in 1977 to became Chief Minister. MGR remained CM of Tamil Nadu for 10 years before his soul left this world. Of course the much discussed politician in Indian politics and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalitha needs a mention here as she was the first film actress to become Chief Minister in India by taking over the mantle of AIADMK succeeding MGR.  Thus NTR remains as only filmy hero who launched his own party and captured power without any previous political affiliations.

Even though NTR was not actively involved in any political activity for his extremely busy profession doing 10-12 films a year (NTR in total acted in more than 400 films. He also produced, directed and offered screen play to dozens of films) NTR always kept himself connected with public and extended support several times to people when they got effected by colossal natural calamities along with his co-stars. Couple of such instances includes the most infamous Rayalaseema famine of 60s and the severe typhoon of 1977 that shook Krishna, Guntur and other coastal districts killing 100s. And most importantly, for the people of Andhra Pradesh, NTR was not just an actor on silver screen but was Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and even Duryodhana, Karna, Ravana, Arjuna, and every important character of Indian mythologies. Every character NTR enacted on-screen mesmerized the audience confusing them if original Rama or Krishna look like NTR. NTR played the role of Lord Krishna 18 times and Lord Rama around 10 times. No hero in Indian film industry had this record.

Why other Heroes couldn’t repeat NTR’s history? 

NTR, when he forayed into politics and became Chief Minister, had created a several revolutionary benchmarks by executing his pre-election promises and people of Andhra obviously compared Mega Star Chiranjeevi when he entered politics through his entity ‘Prajarajyam’ in 2009 and his brother Power Star Pawan Kalyan through ‘Janasena’ in 2019 with NTR. Experiments by both brothers have remained flop shows, while Pawan Kalyan’s performance might stay dismal in the history of Andhra Pradesh. In future too it looks pretty difficult for any Film Star to dominate AP political scene. And in Tamil Nadu, we have most interesting development waiting for forthcoming assembly elections. Thalaivar, Rajini Kanth is gearing up to foray into political battle via his own political outfit. Tamil fraternity is eagerly waiting for decades to see Rajini in active politics. Fear or strategy, whatever one calls it has confined Rajini’s political entry only to news items and discussions. Now it looks complex for Rajini with too many players in the fray. His co-stars Kamal Hassan and Seeman have their own shops and DMK is looking intimidating by sweeping 37 out of 38 seats in the recent parliamentary elections. In this multifaceted race, can Thalaiva paraphrase the history created by NTR? We need to wait till next assembly election Tamil Nadu due in 2021.

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