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November 10th, 2017:

When confusing Kamal was left confused

After Kamal Haasan announced his political plans on his birthday earlier this week, you’d have thought that we in media would be debating whether someone, who so far has been solely focused on his film career, can make  the cut in politics.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Allow us to laugh in your face. We in the media have no longer the time for such reasonable stuff. Before the ink on the news of Kamal’s political entry has dried, we in the media are breathlessly wondering whether Rajinikanth will announce his political plans on his birthday next month. After that, we will probably speculate on, I don’t know, whether AVM Studios will be the Tamil Nadu Assembly henceforth.

On a serious note, we need not worry if Kamal has the wherewithal to become a politico. That is because there is no wherewithal needed in the first place to be a politician in India. Anybody can. Any living organism, above the level of amoeba, can.

But I personally am worried at the prospect of Rajini and Kamal entering politics. I have a valid reason for my apprehension: North Indian media. They don’t get many things, but the Rajini-Kamal phenomenon totally stumps them. To be fair, they know a few Rajni jokes. But the problem is they think those jokes are actually funny. But how can we complain about it, when the best of creative talents in Bollywood come up with Lungi Dance and think it to be a tribute to Rajini. If that is a tribute, then Sellur Raju is Issac Newton.

As far as Kamal goes, admittedly, they have no clue. But North Indian media at least have the reasonable excuse that they are North Indian media. Whereas sitting here, we South India media, covering Kamal’s functions on a daily basis, are equally, if not more, confounded by him.

And the man himself is not helping matters with his communication. He is that sort of man who uses metaphors to explain metaphors, and we in the media are teeming with people who can’t even spell metaphors.

Take the presser he addressed on his birthday earlier this week. I followed it on television to get a reasonable view of him and what he said. On the other hand, if I had personally gone to cover the press conference, I would have come back with a discerning insight into the posteriors of camerapersons clicking Kamal’s pics. (These days, this is what happens at all press conferences so much so that newspapers are veering around to the view that the best way to improve their journalism is by investing in high-fidelity television sets).

Getting back to Kamal, I heard intently to what he said and I jotted down vigorously all the things that my trained journalistic instincts caught. And this is what I had put in my notes: “Kamal looking dapper in red overcoat. Kamal speaking extempore. Kamal has a confident mien about him. (This is surprising especially considering that I don’t know what mien means). The PR woman coordinating the occasion is wearing an oversized bindi. By golly! The PR person resembles my collegemate Kavya

My notes rambled along in this fashion, and as you can sense it was more of what I saw rather than what I heard. Of course, Kamal spoke at length. It is just that most things seemed inscrutable. He was using heavily-laid English words to explain heavily-laid Tamil phrases. He was practically speaking in italics.

The only new takeaway for me was that Kamal’s app for his political foray was to be called Maiam Whistle. (In my notes, I had written down in parenthesis: “the app has been named Maiam Whistle based on the common sense wisdom that most other silly names had already been taken”).

Following Kamal’s speech, there was a brief question and answer session. And the first to take the mike was an RJ from a local FM station (yeah, these days RJs are journos. As you can see, it is easier to become a journo than even a politico. Our standards are that shallow).  And what seemed like a full-fledged Union Budget speech, the RJ kept going on, and Kamal finally stepped in and asked, “what is the question here?”

Kamal has many times over confused many with his answers. But one of our number indeed manged to confound Kamal with a question itself.

Kamal better be warned. As he gets down to test the political waters, he should know what he is up against: An impatient public, a vigorous set of political parties, and, most importantly, a totally muddled media.