An Insider’s perspective…
The year was 2016 & the film was Vijay’s Bhairava. I played a Judge & him, as always an activist rendering pages of dramatic lines much like the Vijayakanth of those days. And I distinctly recall sitting down with the Director to re-write some portions of the Court scene before shooting in order to bring some authenticity to at least the legal procedure depicted there.
Let me put in in the #Mersal context now…
I hail from the film industry, been acting since I was nine. Have married an actor who is about 600 films old even by a discounted count, some fan said he counted 800 films. Have been surrounded by film people all my life. It is true that some actors or should I call them, matinee idols went on to become chief ministers but by and large, actors in the movie business know their job the best, acting. Most of them hardly know politics, arguably don’t wish to understand also. It’s also true that some like to dabble as star campaigners because it fetches them rewards like perhaps an appointment on a board or even an award or perhaps, a membership of the Legislative council.
In TN and Telangana/Andhra Pradesh, most big stars aspire to be CMs just like MGR or NTR or even Jayalalitha. In Karnataka & Kerala few actors have such aspirations because the audience here doesn’t get as swayed as they do in Telugu or Tamil. However, it is public knowledge that after the MGR/Jayalalitha/NTR phenomenon, several there too have attempted-Chiranjeevi, Vijayakanth, now Kamalhassan & so on but none have even made a head start.
What is indeed amazing is that these so-called films meant to build their images to usher them to “CM”hood, are under-researched & as unrealistic & filmy as they can be. They, in their mind skip the entire process of building cadre, achieving a majority in the house before being made CM by the concerned party. The idea is to follow the MGR formula… but They forget MGR was an activist on the ground, Annadurai’s protege…he strived for the Party & ideology before aspiring to be CM.
Most importantly, the audience then was different, unquestioning, worshipped their stars…will they today?
I remember the legend K.Balachander telling Samuthira Kani to cross-check with me if the process in a Court was correct when he was directing a Court scene with me playing lawyer. Do all who write for films have that kind of sincerity I wonder? Seetharam Talagavar has a band of lawyers to consult although he himself is a lawyer & a master at writing them.
Our Court scenes & hospital scenes in films are the most under-researched ones although they provide the forum for the climax where the Hero delivers several pages of dramatic lines. I have often wondered why attention is not paid to detail when it comes to discussing matters that affect the masses, on the large screen, like law, women & healthcare. Wherever I could, have intervened…be it in film or tv & wondered what if a fine actress in my place who wouldn’t know as much law as me or wasn’t educated as I am would simply render what is written. After all, films are a forum which is the best to carry messages to the people at large. Writers have for the longest time made fundamental mistakes, like kin-daughter or son appearing as lawyer or wrong-doer before a parent who is judge & the entire crux of the film would dwell on it…which is barred by basic legal tenets in real life.
The #GST goof up in #Mersal is no different. Under-researched writing that makes punchlines out of falsehoods, impractical comparisons with Singapore which perhaps Vijay, also didn’t care to cross-check because for him, the intent was to take on the ruling dispensation, BJP/Modiji because he is politically differently aligned. Not essentially perhaps because he understands the nuances of #GST or economics but simply because his aim was to receive an applause With a populist punchline! It’s unfortunate that actors intend to achieve political yields through a filmy situation but the question is if the audience still as naive as it was?
Ours is a large country with the world’s largest written Constitution where the powers of the State & Center are differentiated very clearly but alas, actors are actors & it’s not in their curriculum to read the Constitution. It’s time actors who wish to do activism through films & become CMs with a few punch lines thrown here get their writers & directors to do some real research. Perhaps start by reading the newspaper. Please Wake up & smell the coffee…
Malavika Avinash is an Indian actress, television personality and a BJP politician. She is known for her work in Kannada and Tamil films.