Chennai: Politics took centre stage at the inauguration of Sivaji Ganesan’s memorial on Sunday when Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan — two heavyweights of the Tamil film industry — shared the dais.
Speaking at the event, Rajinikanth said “fame and money” alone were not enough in politics. “If you have to succeed in politics, merely name, fame, and money are not enough. It is something else that is needed," he said.
"There is something bigger that transforms an actor into a politician. May be Kamal Haasan knows what it is. If I had asked him two months ago, may be he would have told me. Now, when I ask him, he says ‘come with me, and I’ll tell you’,” the actor, called Superstar by fans, said.
Haasan, too, had his share of fun, but at the expense of the AIADMK, when he took a dig at the government for the delay in inaugurating Ganesan’s memorial.
“Sivaji was an actor whose popularity and influence goes beyond politics. We need not request or beg anyone to unveil this staute. I would have attended this function no matter who opposed by presence. I would have been standing outside, but I would have been here,” the ulaga nayagan (global hero) said.
At the start of the event, the two actors were seen sharing a comfortable camaraderie, belying the intense speculation over their respective political debuts.
Of the two, Haasan has been more vocal of his political ambition, saying he would launch his own party soon as none of the existing ones can provide him a platform for his “reformatory” ideology.
If you have to succeed in politics, merely name, fame and money are not enough. It is something else that is needed: Rajinikanth in Chennai pic.twitter.com/6Hm1rU5rds— ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2017
He has also held meetings with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but dismissed speculation of joining either. At loggerheads with the ruling AIADMK, Haasan has also ruled out siding with the DMK or the BJP, saying Rajinikanth is a more suitable ally for the latter.
Rajinikanth, meanwhile, has said he wants to enter politics to “clean up the system” and BJP leaders have been quick to woo him. Last month, the actor had joined cause with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign, fuelling the rumours.
The event which the two actors attended on Sunday was also not bereft of politics.
Inaugurating the late actor Sivaji Ganesan’s statue was deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, who was picked for the job two days ago after Ganesan’s family had objected to the government sending “just a minister”.
Earlier, the government had announced that Information and Publicity Minister 'Kadambur' C Raju would inaugurate the memorial, following which Ganesan’s family and the Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Samooga Nala Peravai, a social welfare body run by the actor's fans, said it should be done by the chief minister.
The 28,300 sq ft memorial has been built by the Public Works Department at a cost of Rs 2.80 crore at Adyar in the Dravidian style of architecture.
In 2015, then chief minister Jayalalithaa had announced in the Assembly that a memorial will be built honouring Sivaji Ganesan, who ruled the Tamil film world since the 1950s.
A winner of the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke award, Ganesan had acted in over 300 films most of which were big hits. He passed away on July 21, 2001.