20 June, 2021

Raising The Dead

The late MGR breathes new life into the state's electoral scene

Raising The Dead
THE logical result of fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life
—Walter Benjamin

IN a Dravidian state where the subaltern masses keep alive a kitsch culture, it is no surprise that Tamil Nadu worships two kinds of anthropomorphic gods: film stars and politicians. The deification is easier if they are rolled into one. While the film star performs larger-than-life histrionics on screen, the politician dominates thoroughfares in larger-than-life cut-outs.

The easy transition from filmdom to politics has its best example in Marudur Gopalamenon Ramachandran. Venerated by the masses as MGR, it was proved in the last election that dropping the late chief minister's name is one surefire way to mesmerise the masses. He is a phenomenon in that both his own party and others have unashamedly revoked his ghost after his death and continue to do so to garner votes.

And it's not much different this time around. With Rajnikant having failed to don the mantle of the new messiah and Chief Minister Jayalalitha's popularity having...

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