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The traditional sport used to be a way to show the hero's masculinity but now carries political overtones in cinema.

From Mersal to Karuppan jallikattu is making a big comeback to Tamil cinemaScreenshot/ Youtube
Flix Kollywood Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 13:02

At least since January, jallikattu has become a reigning symbol of ‘culture’ in Tamil Nadu. And Kollywood, has been happy to join the party.

So, you have the trailer for Karuppan, Vijay Sethupathi's upcoming release, which has garnered over 1 million views.

The trailer opens with Vijay Sethupathi's voice asking if 'they' know what 'culture' is, and asking who 'he' is to pronounce judgment. The dramatic visuals that follow these lines show the actor as a jallikattu player, before moving on to a number of action and romance sequences.

The film, directed by R Panneerselvam and also featuring Bobby Simha in the cast, is set to release on September 29

Quite a few Tamil films have capitalised on the sudden popularity of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. Though the traditional sport is played only in a handful of districts in the state, it became a call for people to express their dissent about a number of issues confronting the state and their displeasure with the Centre's cultural imposition. The trigger happened to be the Supreme Court's ban on the traditional sport which led to widespread protests across the state at the start of 2017, the biggest being at Chennai's Marina beach. 

After the jallikattu protests, the sport has taken on political overtones in popular culture. This is evident from the lines that appear in the Karuppan trailer. 

And it’s not just one film. Vijay's Mersal, a highly anticipated Deepavali release, has a poster that shows the actor as a jallikattu player. The actor is playing three roles in the film, including that of a panchayat leader. 

When the pro-jallikattu protests were at their peak, many music directors released songs praising jallikattu. Yuvan Shankar Raja released a song Jallikattu from the upcoming film Santhana Devan, directed by Ameer. Starring Arya in the lead, the song praises Tamil culture, embraces the bull as a child and glorifies masculinity.

GV Prakash released a song titled Kombu vacha singamda, sung by Arunraja Kamaraj of Neruppuda fame. Valorising the bull and the men participating in the sport, the song asks who is anyone to stop a traditional sport like this. Interestingly, the trailer for GV Prakash's next film, Adangathey came out four days after the song was launched.

Santhosh Narayanan released a teaser for his music album Thai engal Thamizh Nadey (Mother is our Tamil Nadu). The video shows a young boy appreciating the scenic beauty and iconic structures of Tamil Nadu, and of course, watching jallikattu in action. There are no lyrics accompanying the images but the intention is clear.

And last year, Hiphop Tamizha's Takkaru Takkaru, which came out in June, was based on the popular conspiracy theory that the ban on jallikattu is driven by corporate interests

The enthusiasm for jallikattu seems to be showing signs of continuing strong. Vettrimaran, who has made critically acclaimed films like Aadukalam and Visaranai, is reported to have obtained the rights for Vadivasal, a novel about jallikattu written by Sahitya Akademi Award-winning writer CS Chellapa. The book was written in 1958. Vettrimaran is currently busy wrapping up Vada Chennai and it remains to be seen if Vadivasal will become his next project.  

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