“I am sure that Tamil Nadu with all its population has several potential leaders that can take it forward.”

Rajinikanth has right to decide if he wants to get into politics Mani Ratnam
Flix Kollywood Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 14:56

Ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam has never shied away from addressing contemporary politics in his movies. And in a recent interview to television channel Times Now, the director of the soon to be released Kaatru Veliyidai has been very straightforward in his answers to political questions.

Speaking about the political situation in Tamil Nadu, and the ever-raging debate over whether or not Rajinikanth should join politics, Mani Ratnam said, “If Rajinikanth has to get into politics, it is his decision. He has to decide that he will be able to do it well and whether it is the right time for him.”  

Arguing that it is unfair for people to urge him to join politics, the ace filmmaker notes, “He is a citizen as much like you and me. He has the right to do or not do anything. I am glad that he has an opinion and he is willing to share it when he wants to. He is a clear man. He has no agenda. I am sure he will do what is right and what he thinks he can do well and what is right for everyone around him.”

Following the demise of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and with the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi becoming inactive in politics owing to his poor health recently, Tamil Nadu is witnessing a political vacuum in the state.  

“I am sure that Tamil Nadu with all its population has several potential leaders that can take it forward,” points out Mani Ratnam.

On anti-Hindi movement

On being asked whether he believed the anti-Hindi sentiment was still alive in Tamil Nadu, the ace filmmaker observes that it is no longer an issue in the state, while adding that he still has the “resistance” having grown up in the 1960s, when the anti-Hindi agitations were at their peak in Tamil Nadu.

Milestones along certain highways in Tamil Nadu now have names in Hindi, Tamil or Kannada, at the expense of English. While political parties were quick to attack the Centre for attempting to “impose” the language on non-Hindi speaking states, social media saw the hashtag ‘Stop Hindi Chauvinism’ trending recently.

Mani Ratnam, however, notes, “It was way back in the ‘60s that it was strongly felt. I don’t think it is really an issue anymore. I have grown up in the ‘60s, so I might still have the resistance. I don’t think it’s a criteria at all. I think people are open to it. It will be difficult for people to learn to practice and to get into a different language. It isn’t a political resistance. It isn’t a political movement against it.”

On fringe groups

With a number of films in India having been targeted by fringe groups recently, the director, whose 1995 blockbuster Bombay angered Muslim outfits, with violent protests witnessed in many parts of the country then says, “It can happen but we have to be strong. Each one of us have not let the fringe element dominate and be scared and go into a shell very easily. As long as you are right and know what you are doing is honest. And care for everyone around you and not just yourself. You should be strong, you should be able to resist the smaller elements that are trying to dominate.”

He also emphasises, “We don’t need moral policing. We have a culture which has been there for a long time. We don’t need an individual that tells me what I can and should not do. We don’t need a small group that dictates rights and wrongs. Rights and wrongs have been passed on over generations. I don’t think law and order should let small groups ever try to intrude into an individual’s privacy and individual’s freedom of thought or behaviour.”

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