Padayappa – How Rajini Missed the Bus to Politics

Rajinikanth Padayappa

Rajinikanth PadayappaEn vazhi, thani vazhi…

That was the punch dialogue of Padayappa, the blockbuster movie of the year 1999. The dialogue, literally translated as ‘my path is the distinct path’, was widely interpreted as ‘I will form my own party’. The moviegoers saw in Padayappa the movie version of Rajini’s sustained tiff with Jayalalithaa, then reigning supreme in AIADMK, who had crossed swords with former since her first tenure as CM. The movie liberally incorporated real life features such as the hero having two daughters and the villain being an egoist, arrogant lady. Ramya Krishnan, the Rajmata Shivgami of today, was wicked and cunning Neelambari in that movie constantly plotting against hero Rajini aka Padayappa.

The movie had a windfall making records at the box office. However, that was not the distinction for which it is remembered. It was seen mostly as the reflection of Rajini’s political aspirations. It was seen as a definitive statement on Rajinikanth’s entry into politics. Had Rajinikanth jumped in fray then, he would have everything on platter. The ruling DMK combination was facing anti-incumbency and a defeat was a writing on the wall. Tamizhan Express, the Indian Express group’s Tamil weekly had an interesting report in one of its issues then. Making apparent references to CM M. Karunanidhi, it said that he had visited a nadi expert and asked reports of a certain Marathi individual. The expert in turn had told him that he had danger from that individual who had gained popularity after 32-years of age. True or false whatever, the report indicated the insecurity in DMK camp and predicted Rajini’s rise.

Jayalalithaa, on the other hand, was in opposition facing a barrage of corruption charges. She had been to the jail and trying to regain power by reinventing herself. She was writing a novel with a Tamil superstar with a protagonist having Thanjavur Marathi origins.

In such a scenario, Padayappa hit the screens in February 1999. It was lapped up by eager Rajinifans who were hungry for their icon’s exploits. True, he had chided politicians in 1992 in Annamalai; he had taunted Jayalalithaa in Mannan and Muthu in 1994 & 1995 respectively. However, Padayappa was a direct head-on collision between two meteorites – a fierce hero with all the heavenly qualities at his feet and a woman, trying to dominate everything around her and habituated to winning at any cost. Their on screen clash spoke itself that here was Rajinikanth ready to shed all his inhibitions and start his political venture.

If there was any point where Rajini would have entered politics, it was this. Alas, it did not happen. The people were robbed of a starry political drama. Rajini promised ‘his own path’ and he didn’t took it.

All this comes to mind as Rajinikanth meets his fans yet again. Today, he has given us the deadline of December 31 to finally declare whether he would be entering politics or not. One just expects him to say, “Ippudu Choodu” and come to politics with a bang. All the best wishes for the superstar!

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