news Monday, July 20, 2015 - 05:30
  In Pattali Makkal Katchi’s rehash of their age-old campaign against tobacco, history is repeating itself. Back in 2002, when PMK founder S Ramadoss had criticized Rajinikant for glorifying smoking, Rajni would not have thought that a few years later his own son-in-law Dhanush would be on their radar for the same reason. It has been 13 years since, but PMK continues to target actors who like their cancer-sticks on screen. Dhanush’s latest movie, Maari has had a blockbuster release, with fans have loving the action comedy. But the PMK seems to be upset with the film. Former Health Minister and S Ramadoss’s son Anbumani Ramadoss has asked Dhanush to stop promoting smoking through his films. In 2002, Rajini’s antics with the beedi in Baba provoked the PMK. It was the story of an atheist named Baba who smokes  and drinks extensively, even though he was considered a reincarnation of an ancient priest who lived in the Himalayas. The movie was a flop, and the controversy only added to its woes. PMK workers ransacked theatres running Baba because of the smoking scenes shown in it. S Ramadoss, the party’s founder had openly criticized Rajini for encouraging the youth to take up smoking and also said that it was irresponsible. To take upon Rajni it itself was a big news, because by then, Rajni has established a name for himself and had a huge army of crazy fans who worshipped him. Baba had ample smoking scenes. PMKmade this their political agenda. Soon after their founder criticized Rajni, PMK supporters ransacked theatres showing the movie, destroyed films and even stopped it from being showed in certain parts of the state. Clashes erupted between Rajni fans and PMK supporters. There were reports of a few Rajini fans being wounded in Madurai. But Rajini was not someone who would take such violence lightly. Hecame out in support of his fans and warned Anbumaniof legal action and held him responsible for the disturbances that were caused in the state during those days. The fight was out in the open and soon turned into a political turmoil. In an interview given to Tamil magazine Kumudan in 2004, Rajini stated that “Kalaignar has helped a lot in this issue. The clash between me and Ramadoss could have gone in a different way. During and after the elections if it has been peaceful on both the sides, the reason behind that is Kalaignar. Both - me and Dr. Ramadoss - should thank him for that.” In the same interview, Rajini even warned PMK of taking similar action against any of his future movies. Rajini’s secretary, N Sathyanarayana, had even issued circulars to fan clubs to start campaign against PMK. Eventually though Rajini had to finally quit smoking because of his health. Rajini’s next blockbusters, Chandramukhi and Sivaji, did not have even a single scene of the actor smoking. Rajini even asked actor Ambareesh to quit smoking later. Anbumani praised Rajini for this and urged all actors to follow him. In 2007, Anbumani Ramadoss urged actor Vijay to stop portraying smoking scenes in his movies. S Ramadoss had openly criticized Vijaykant for being drunk. And now it has targeted Dhanush, Rajni’s son-in-law, for his movie Maari. In the movie, Dhanush has played the role of a ruffian who smokes, fights and smacks down anyone who comes in his way. PMK has only urged Dhanush to quit smoking on-screen in the interest of youngsters. In a letter written to Dhanush, PMK has asked Dhanush to follow his father-in-law who not only quit smoking on-screen but also appealed to his fans to quit smoking. With the elections round the corner in Tamil Nadu, perhaps PMK’s campaign against smoking is also politically calculated.