Fan clubs

Hero worship

Print edition : October 18, 2013

Fans of Rajinikanth bathe his banner in milk in Tiruchi. Today, most big star releases in the south are greeted with such frenzy. Photo: R_ASHOK

December 9,1978: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran being greeted by his fans at the Madras airport upon his return from a global tour. MGR’s star power was the key to his political career. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

December 7, 1984: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao addressing a public meeting in Tenali. Several stars in the south have tapped their huge fan following and used films as a stepping stone to politics. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Although Kannada stars Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan did not directly enter politics, their actions were always carefully orchestrated. Here, Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan and other film stars at a rally in 2004. Photo: V. Sreenivasa_Murthy

A makeshift shrine in Bangalore for Vishnuvardhan. Photo: K_Murali Kumar

“Fan of Kannada people” Raja’s auto decorated with the colours of the State and pictures of its film stars. Photo: By Special Arrangement

The fan phenomenon is uniquely south Indian, and if there is one single feature that characterises all fan activity, it is the fans’ acute sense of entitlement. The fan is so invested in the image that he feels entitled to be its guardian, ensuring that the star himself does not digress from it.
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