Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Captain comes calling






The MGR Nagar-KK Nagar junction in Chennai is popular for political meetings. For years, it has been a venue for all kinds of meetings. Since yesterday evening, there has been a lot of activity here. Preparations on for today’s arrival of 57-year-old Vijayakanth, founder of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and a member of the Legislative Assembly representing Virudhachalam. During the 1980s-90s, he was considered the third most popular actor here, after Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan. He is now fondly referred to as Captain, after his popular film Captain Prabhakharan.

It was a long, long wait for those at MGR Nagar who wanted to catch a glimpse of the Captain and hear him speak. There was music and fireworks as the scheduled time of his arrival, 7.30 pm, came up. There were regular announcements asking people to maintain calm; the Captain was on his way the announcer kept saying. When Vijayakanth finally arrived to the sound of deafening firecrackers, it was close to 10 pm, the outer time limit for elections campaigns.

It was evident the Captain had grown in stature as a politician. People in the hundreds listened in rapt attention as he spoke. He took digs at the present chief minister as well as the AIADMK supremo. He was not at all for any kind of drama, he said, the kind that was being conducted by his opponents – his reference was to the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. He was for helping the masses, ensuring that they got food and jobs. He said he was alarmed at the way other political parties engaged rowdy elements.

I managed to take a few shots, but against the glare of lights (the whole place was so well lit with all kinds of bulbs that I wondered whether the state has a power problem at all!) they were not quite the kind of pictures I would have liked.

Pictures here show shots of the Captain speaking, standing up in his van, asking people to vote for his party candidate; of the heads of people before me watching the Captain; a local resident lapping up every word; and passersby soaking in the atmosphere.

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