A standout feature of any dispute involving Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is the pavlovian speed with which the film world enters the picture. Protest marches with stars at the helm, expressions of support in the media, rabble-rousing speeches, black-badge demonstrations, dharnas, etc, are all quickly whipped up as the distinction between the reel world and real world are erased. In some cases, as the Bangalore-born Rajnikanth (in picture, right) found out today in Madras, the participation of stars from across the border is used as an instant and public test of their identity and loyalties.
But do the denizens of the world of make-believe—actors, directors, producers, “item girls”, stunt men, composers, technicians—represent a State any more or any less than any other professional? Aside from their not inconsiderable hold on the masses which helps raise the temperature, does their participation help or hamper the resolution of emotive matters of land, language and water? In Tamil Nadu, where cinema and power-politics intersect easily (M.G. Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi) stars beyond their sell-by date (like Vijaykanth and Sharath Kumar) with one foot in the political cesspool, have a vested interest in entering the fray. But should Karnataka blindly follow suit?
Or is it all just eye-candy for star-struck fans? An escape from their maddening lives?