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Focus on fighting corruption, says Kamal Haasan after meeting Kejriwal

Kamal Haasan said he was honoured by Kejriwal’s visit and his endeavour was to seek advice from anyone fighting against communalism and corruption.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2017 21:51 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Arvind Kejriwal,Kamal Haasan,Chennai
New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal greets actor Kamal Haasan at the latter's residence in Chennai on Thursday.(PTI Photo)

Tamil movie superstar Kamal Haasan on Thursday called Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal his mentor and guide in fighting communalism and corruption, and the Delhi chief minister asked the actor to join active politics.

The two met over an hour-long lunch at the 62-year-old actor’s Eldams Road residence in Chennai’s Alwarpet neighbourhood, reinforcing speculation about Haasan taking the political plunge.

“Kejriwal has a national image as a fighter against corruption and communalism. And for me it is a learning curve, meeting him and discussing national and state politics and a wide range of issues,” Haasan said during a joint interaction with reporters.

For his part, Kejriwal called himself an avowed fan of the multifaceted actor who has given hits such as Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Saagar, Sadma and Apoorva Sagodharargal, or Appu Raja in Hindi.

He said he also admires the man for his “tremendous integrity and courage” and promised to meet him again. They had met twice before.

“We are at this point of time in the country when it is facing strong forces of communalism and corruption and it is important that likeminded people speak to each other on these issues and work in tandem,” Kejriwal said.

“...there are rare people who have the courage to stick their neck out. And Kamal Haasan-ji happens to be one of them, who has stuck his neck out and he has decided rather than curse from outside that he should enter politics.”

The Delhi chief minister told reporters that the actor should enter politics.

Haasan sent his younger daughter and Bollywood actress Akshara to receive the activist-politician at the airport.

This was the second high-profile interaction Haasan had with a political figure in three weeks, since meeting Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram.

Tamil Nadu has been abuzz with talks of its two top movie stars with cult followings, Rajinikanth and Haasan, joining politics after yesteryear matinee idol and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s death last December created a political vacuum.

The legions of fans want them to make their debut in hero-worshipped Tamil politics. AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran, his protégé Jayalalithaa and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi came from celluloid in the southern state where politics and films are inseparably intertwined.

Political observers, however, said the current political scenario does not guarantee a successful opening to a film star as it used to in the past.

Ramachandran and Karunanidhi were backed by movements and they were politically conscious and cultivated their image accordingly for a political role even when they were working in films, they said.

“These days there are stars, other than the two superstars, who have their own pockets of influence among the youth. Tamil Nadu politics is still dominated by the Dravidian majors (AIADMK and DMK) and this is unlikely to change drastically,” said Ramu Manivannan, a professor in Madras University.

Haasan is apparently making the moves but there was no clarity whether he would start a movement first and then convert it into a political platform, just as Kejriwal had done in New Delhi.

The ruling AIADMK called his meetings with leaders “political tourism”.

The actor has been critical in his comments on the AIADMK government over several issues, including corruption.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 18:39 IST