With 'Indian 2', Kamal Haasan takes the Senapathy route to impress as neta

opinion | Sunday, October 1st, 2017
TS Sudhir

"The people should know that I am alive. Wherever anything wrong takes place, I will definitely return. There is no death for the Indian. Jai Hind," says Senapathy, sowing the seeds for a sequel.

Indian directed by Shankar released in 1996 and was India's entry to the Oscars. It was a huge commercial success and won three National awards, including one for best actor to Kamal Haasan. 

Senapathy has waited for 21 years to take the flight back to India to light up the screens with yet another vigilante crime thriller. Kamal chose the stage of the Grand finale of the Bigg Boss show to announce that director Shankar has the script ready for Indian 2. Given Kamal's political ambitions that he went public with in September, it is clear the actor is working to a script. 

In fact, sometime in 2011, when Gandhian Anna Hazare fired up the country with his anti-corruption movement, the possibility of an Indian 2 started doing the rounds, only to be denied by the filmmaker's team a few months later. 

What makes Indian so special is that among all his movies, in which he has played all kinds of roles with aplomb, this Shankar movie has the right mix of pop patriotism and content that will be in sync with the kind of public persona Kamal wants to portray in his political avatar.

The actor in recent months has raised his voice against 'corruption in all departments' and that was precisely the theme of Indian. A sequel will see him set the movie in 2017, positioning him as the panacea to all that ails Tamil Nadu today. 

By rubbing shoulders with Arvind Kejriwal who came to power riding on an anti-corruption agenda in real life and playing Senapathy who is one of the iconic characters Tamil cinema has seen, in reel life, it is clear Kamal plans to use the anti-corruption plank as his passport to political success.

A swansong to his long and accomplished film career, as it were. He even used the Bigg Boss platform as he announced, "I would definitely come as a volunteer. I have got a clear signal. Your work is my life from now on."

But given that Kamal has 'Vishwaroopam 2' and 'Sabaash Naidu' to finish besides starting work on 'Indian 2', does the actor have enough time to devote to his political avatar?

Shankar too has to finish post-production work on the Rajinikanth-Akshay Kumar starrer '2.0' which is due for a 2018 release, before plunging into shooting 'Indian 2'. It is a film that will definitely take time, taking into account the prosthetic work Kamal would need to play the part of an elderly man and Shankar's propensity for heavy-duty CG work. 

The grapevine in Kollywood suggests that director Pa. Ranjith, who also helmed Rajinikanth's 'Kabali' will emphasise the superstar's credentials as a man who is one with the downtrodden, including the Dalits and the backward castes.

At the same time, '2.0' aspires to be one of the biggest grossers in India's film history, aiming to more Bahubalian than SS Rajamouli's extravaganza and the Rajinikanth camp feels that will add to his box office aura. Most feel that Rajinikanth has the entire Tamil Nadu social spectrum covered with his two releases, should he decided to turn neta as well. 

But how much will 70mm Kamal and Rajini help Kamal and Rajini, the politicians? Three years before his political plunge in 2005, Vijaykanth acted in 'Ramanaa', a film in which he goes after corrupt politicians and hospitals. The film was a success but it helped Vijaykanth garner only a 10 per cent vote share in the 2006 elections. Proof that the public is discerning and asks all the relevant questions before a date with the polling booth.

While there is no denying that a film like 'Indian 2' will help create a positive impression, the jury is out on whether the electorate will vote for a real Kamal and Rajini just because it has been entertained by a reel Senapathy, Kaala and Chitti, the robot. 

It is interesting that both Rajini and Kamal are banking on Shankar, when they are at the threshold of a political debut. For those asking what does Shankar know about making anyone chief minister should rewind to 1999 when he made `Mudhalvan' (remade in Hindi in 2001 with Anil Kapoor as 'Nayak') in which the protagonist, a journalist, becomes CM for a day. 

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