Indian Superstar Rajinikanth Sets Out Political Ambitions

Indian cinema superstar, Rajinikanth has announced his decision to join the political arena. The actor had been hinting about his political ambitions since 1996, but no formal announcement was made until Dec. 31, 2017.

Rajinikanth (real name Shivaji Rao Gaekwad) will start an as yet unnamed political party. He says it will contest all 234 seats of the legislative assembly in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu at the next elections.

The stylish actor, who enjoys a cult following, has two film releases lined up for 2018. Sci-fi epic “2.0,” the sequel to 2010 blockbuster “Enthiran,” will be India’s most expensive film with a budget of $70 million. “2.0” is due an April release, with gangland saga “Kaala” scheduled for later in the year.

Tamil Nadu’s Tamil language film industry is one of the country’s most prolific, alongside the Telugu and Hindi language industries. The state has been ruled by members of the film industry for most of the time since India gained independence in 1947. Chief Ministers C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi were acclaimed screenwriters, while M.G. Ramachandran and J.Jayalalithaa were hugely popular film stars.

Rajinikanth’s contemporary in Tamil cinema, the multiple-award winning actor Kamal Haasan has also announced his intention to join politics. The state has been in a political vacuum since the death of Jayalalithaa in 2016. Her party, the A.I.A.D.M.K., currently in power, is factionalized, as is Karunanidhi’s opposition party, the D.M.K.

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