Sri Lanka fighting continues to dominate Tamil tinsel town

Chennai, Nov 20 (IANS) In a bid to show his solidarity towards Sri Lankan Tamils, superstar Rajnikant has urged his fans to avoid celebration of his birthday on Dec 12.

Chennai, Nov 20 (IANS) In a bid to show his solidarity towards Sri Lankan Tamils, superstar Rajnikant has urged his fans to avoid celebration of his birthday on Dec 12.

'When every Tamil heart is wounded over the sufferings of our brethren in Sri Lanka, it is inappropriate to celebrate my birthday,' Rajnikant was quoted as saying in a press statement issued by Sudhakar, the new aide to the star within hours of announcing that the star will head his own fan clubs' association.

Kamal Haasan, the other top Tamil thespian, did the same Nov 5.

'An individual's birthday loses credence when genocide is practised in our neighbouring island with renewed vigour. Refrain from celebrations when our (Tamil) neighbours (in Sri Lanka) are hopeless spectators to genocide and mass funerals,' Haasan had said in a press statement.

Actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth had done the same a few years ago.

Other actors Vijay, Vikram, Sathya Raj are a few other actors who are mulling similar moves.

While Vijay had organised a day-long hunger strike by over 35 of his fan clubs all over the state four days ago, the entire Tamil film industry's mainstays had participated in a day-long hunger strike Nov 1.

Despite Rajnikant having discouraged his fans from celebrating his birthday for a few years since an automobile accident killed a few of them while travelling to Chennai, admirers of the star defied him every year.

Some fans are known to pour milk, coconut water and even beer over the icon's cardboard cut-outs in the busy Dr. Radhakrishnan Road in the heart of the city situated 100 metres from the residences of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Leader of Opposition J. Jayalalitha.

Some of Rajnikant's critics, however, saw the announcement as the star's tactics to shore up his image amongst his fans.

'Fans of the star expressed misgivings over the bombing of his latest movie 'Kuselan' and his uncertain future during an interaction with him earlier this month. To salvage his marketability, Rajnikant is trying to use the prevailing Tamil sentiments and nothing more,' P. Shankar, a movie scriptwriter, told IANS.

'Kuselan' starring Rajnikant had been sold at a cost of Rs.650 millio, but bombed at the box office triggering a crisis in the Tamil film industry.

Releases of two movies connected with producers and distributors of 'Kuselan' have been stalled by distributors' associations.

Following the development some fans are said to have repeated their demand that Rajnikant enter politics. The star, however, continues to defer any move in that direction.

But for one exception of O. Panneerselvam of the current opposition AIADMK, all the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu since 1967 have had celluloid backgrounds to their political careers.

The list includes DMK founder late C.N. Annadurai, present Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, late M.G. Ramachandran, his late widow Janaki Ramachandran and Jayalalitha.

Some Tamil Nadu politicians have natal connections with Sri Lanka.

The late MGR was born in Hewaheta, situated near Kandy in the central hill country of the island.

The mother of Raadhika Sarath Kumar, a media mogul and mainstay of the All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, headed by her husband, was a Sri Lankan citizen.

The Tamil film industry depends on expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils for roughly 30 percent of its Rs.60 billion annual turnover, according to industry insiders.

Ayngaran International, owned by a Sri Lankan Tamil expatriate Karunamoorthy, is producing 'Robot', starring Rajnikant at a reported cost of over Rs.1.2 billion.

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Kamal Haasan

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Sarath Kumar

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M. Karunanidhi

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