From Thalapathy to Thalaivar: Revisiting the timeline of actor Vijay's political entry!

For the highly-influenced actors in Tamil Nadu, traversing their journey into politics has been a modus operandi as they had exposed their political will under the light of a surging stardom. The way of approach of such actors, from endorsing an ideology, choosing a story, to delivering dialogues in their movies, have stood with a different vision from their contemporaries. And, with a fact that cinema and politics make a unique recipe in Tamil Nadu, the political entry of such actors became easy and endured by masses. 

Tamil Nadu, a state that has been pioneering in progresssive ideology, has, at the same time, offered no dearth in search of leaders from the cinema industry. The state has precedents when it comes to such political want or transformation that gives a cohort of people - diehard fans to either cheer for their favourite star to enter politics or to endorse them as the political future of the state. Nevertheless, there were times when both of these factors have failed.

When you name some of the most-admired yesteryear and current actors, their cinema trajectory would have sometimes touched the political orbit or would have ventured into a new game of politics. From Sivaji Ganesan, MG Ramachandran (MGR), Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa, Vijayakanth, Khusbhu Sundar, Kamal Haasan to Udhayanidhi Stalin, these people have shined in the cinema industry and went on to wear another feather on their cap as successful politicians. There is no need for a deep delve into a case of exception in this cohort- Superstar Rajinikanth has aspired into politics but eventually, his political entry has never borne fruit. 

Politics is an uphill battle and these people had more ordeals despite their fanfare and stardom. Apparently, it also applies for a newcomer - Actor Vijay, who is now a leading actor in Kollywood and from being a lead actor, has now embarked on a journey to become a leader. Vijay has been in a peak of his acting career and his political entry has long been expected - the transformation of his fan club into people's movement a decade ago became a strong signal that he is traversing towards pursuing politics. 

Vijay, who is fondly called as 'Thalapathy' by his fans, is an actor with millions of admirations from across and beyond the borders. It is known that Vijay has astutely balanced his acting and political career for many years and that's the reason why his political entry hasn't surprised many. The fans and people knew that Vijay will enter politics and all they wanted was when he would start the party, what would be the name, and when he will become a full-time politician. 

On Friday - February 2, actor Vijay has answered all these questions through a single social media post - the political party is ready, so are the vision and bylaws. After a massive social outreach with several welfare events and social programmes for years, Vijay has launched his political party, by asserting that to conduct a holistic development programmes, he needs 'power'. According to our sources, the final touches for his party were made recently and his outfit 'Vijay Makkal Iyakkam' would mostly get transformed into his political party. 

Vijay has announced that his party is named 'Tamilaga Vetri Kazhagam' (TVK) and the timing of announcement had taken the masses by surprise. Earlier, it was reported that Vijay would announce his political entry after the upcoming general elections or during his 50th birthday in June. It was said that the initial legal proceedings were done and that the party's general council and executive council meeting had approved the party's bylaws and resolutions. 

On Friday, thousands of cadres of the Vijay Makkal Iyakkam had started celebrating on streets and their celebrations hinted that the party's name would be announced. Amidst the celebrations, actor Vijay has officially announced his party name and released a statement that contained his political principles. While Vijay has been named as the President of the party, Vijay Makkal Iyakkam's coordinator Bussy Anand has been named as the General Secretary. 

Kamal Haasan was the last high-profile actor to start a political party in 2018 and in five years, Tamil Nadu has witnessed and, of course, welcomed another actor into the political arena. Though Vijay has launched his political party months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, he has asserted that his target is not 2024 general elections but 2026 Tamil Nadu assembly polls. He also assured that after wrapping up the current acting project, he would quit cinema to foster his political future. 

By citing that politics is not a hobby for him, Vijay, in his official statement, said, "I want to devote myself fully to it. The party has applied for registration with the Election Commission. I have already agreed to complete a film without disturbing the party work and fully engage in politics for the service of the people. I consider this as my debt of gratitude to the people of Tamil Nadu." 

Stating that he won't support any political party, he further said, "Our goal is to contest and win the upcoming 2026 assembly election and lead to the fundamental political change that the people want." "Politics is not just another career for me. It is a sacred people's work to know not only the height of politics but also its essence. I have been preparing myself for it for a long time by reading lessons from many of our predecessors, and mentally maturing myself. So, politics is not new for me. It is my deepest desire to fully involve myself in it", he added. 

From Thalapathy (commander) to Thalaivar (leader) - Revisiting Vijay's political push

Vijay's political ambition would have got inherited from his father, S A Chandrasekhar. The latter had a desire that the former should enter politics. Chandrasekhar aspired to plunge into politics three decades ago along with Vijayakanth, but endured fiasco. He had wished that his son Vijay should enter politics under his guidance and we have witnessed father-son conflict between both of them for a long time over establishing a political career. 

It was Chandrasekhar who led Vijay Makkal Iyakkam for many years during which he took efforts to transform it as a political party. Chandrasekhar went on to launch a party years ago, only to get shunned by Vijay who said that he has no connection with the party that was started by his father. Throughout the years, both Vijay and Chandrasekhar displayed their political desire on their own ways - when Chandrasekhar was in odds with Vijay, the latter came to the people and stood with them during pain and plight. 

From supporting Jallikattu protests in 2016, meeting the family members of the victims who were killed in Thoothukudi Sterlite shootings, solacing the family members of Anitha, who died by suicide following her failure in NEET and whose death has sparked an anti-NEET wave in Tamil Nadu, to standing with people during difficult times including meeting those who got affected by floods, Vijay's political strength came from the people. 

Besides his direct concerns for the people who are in distress, Vijay has also tested his political future through the Tamil Nadu local body polls. His outfit, Vijay Makkal Iyakkam, had contested in the local body polls and won dozens of seats and the triumph became a political endorsement for Vijay. The Vijay Makkal Iyakkam is known for conducting several welfare programmes and outreach across the state through which it had reached millions of people and cemented a crucial base for politics. 

Recently, the members of the Vijay Makkal Iyakkam had organized a programme of providing food to the hunger and also started coaching centres for backward students. Vijay has also met and felicitated the top three students in the Classes 10 and 12 board exams from each district to encourage them. When he visited the southern districts of Tamil Nadu that were affected by heavy rains and floods last December, he distributed relief materials to hundreds of people. 

All these social welfare programmes from Vijay gave him good reach and reputation, so were the controversies that arose from his movies. Some of his films 'Thalaivaa', 'Kaithi', 'Mersal', and 'Sarkar' had courted controversies for some dialogues and one-liners, but they didn't affect his growth. In Mersal, he spoke against the Modi government's GST tax regime, which sparked dissents from the BJP leaders. But his stardom didn't collapse and during an audio launch of Sarkar, Vijay said that if he becomes Chief Minister, he won't act as the Chief Minister. 

Vijay has nurtured his political ambition since 2009 and the following years had many twists and turns. In 2011, he met Anna Hazare along with a cohort of celebrities and extended his support to Hazare on his fight against corruption. In 2009, Vijay has also met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Delhi after he divulged that entering into politics was his vision. It was speculated that Vijay would join Congress but there was nothing new under the Sun. Furthermore, when Narendra Modi campaigned in Tamil Nadu during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he met Vijay in Chennai. 

All these meetings gave predictions about how Vijay is going to build his political equation and when he met the students last year, he advised them to study about Periyar, Anna, and Kamarajar. His instruction to his cadres to pay respects to Ambedkar on his jayanti gave talking points about his political ideology. As Vijay has now launched his political party, what remains before him are strong questions and scathing challenges on what would be his political strategy, how he would hit the jackpot of proving him as a leader, whether he would reap formidable support and whether he would follow the footsteps of the successful legacy of MGR, the only Tamil actor so far to launch a party and to rule Tamil Nadu.