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Film and Politics in India

Cinematic Charisma as a Gateway to Political Power

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Dhamu Pongiyannan

In the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, all five of the Chief Ministers since 1967 have been former actors. This provocative book debunks the notion of Bollywood as the synecdoche of Indian cinema to explore the hitherto less studied, yet highly influential cinema in South Asia. Developing the concept of the politics of sentiment, the author examines the ways in which actor-politicians constructed their cinematic charisma, projecting themselves as messiahs saving the people from injustices, to create a political appeal to voters. The resilience of cinematic charisma, as Indian society undergoes massive socio-economic changes, provides a compelling study of modern politics, cinema, celebrity and the culture of the subcontinent.
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Chapter Four: Rajinikanth: The Political Influence of a Mystical Sensation

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Rajinikanth: The Political Influence of a Mystical Sensation

Come June, Class VI students going to schools opting for this textbook will learn about actor Rajinikanth, his life, and how he grew to become one of the top actors in the country.

The Hindu May 2008

The success story of Rajinikanth (popularly known as Rajini) and the trajectory of his stardom fascinate everyone in Tamil Nadu, including school children. From a carpenter to a coolie, to a bus conductor, Rajini rose to become one of the iconic film actors in Asia with more than 1.5 million registered fans (more than the population of Mauritius), and over 63,000 registered fan clubs (Raja M 2007). He is the second highest paid actor in Asia, next only to Jackie Chan. His salary in one of his recent films, Sivaji (dir. S Shankar 2007) was US$ 9.87 million (Raja M 2007). The blockbuster film, The Robot (Endhiran, dir. S Shankar 2010) was made with a budget of US $35 million (Appachi 2010) and was released in 2,250 screens worldwide, including China (Narasimhan 2010).

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