Tamil Nadu has always had overarching amounts of ludicrous unity when it comes to certain things, which essentially to an uninformed north Indian might be a theatre of the absurd, but a plunge into the theatrics will tell you that the fierceness has been present in alarming levels in the culture of the state. The reaction to the Jallikattu ban is a prime illustration. The people of Tamil Nadu love to be united for causes, be it personal or social. The state is one of the prime examples of how culture and religion influence the public sentiment of any region in India. Additionally, if one searches deeper, he should notice that cinema in Tamil Nadu has influenced the rhetoric in the state to a large extent in all walks of life. Tamil cinema as always been deeply rooted and intrinsic to the culture and traditions of the state, and it is evident in all forms of cinema, be it the popular Rajinikanth action movies or the experimental films of Kamal Hassan.
Cultural and political matters in Tamil Nadu are so intrinsically linked to the identity of its people that anything which questions their association with it, garners an emotional charge. Tamil identity means Tamil pride to the people, and it is depicted in all forms of cinema in the state. Unifying together to showcase unease is a form of protest for the people, once there is a sniff of a probable shift in political or cultural paradigm. And why not? The ‘heroes’ in the movies have taught the people, so. While many up north have been thinking why reasonable men like Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth have gone on record to support protests for a sport like Jallikattu, which aggravates animal torture. But, had it not been that, it would have been surprising.
There is another tradition in Tamil Nadu. People in the state have the culture of deifying legends. Be it politics or be it cinema, emotions have always been on a high when it comes to these demigods. From unbounded love for Rajinikanth and unlimited respect for Kamal Hassan to extreme devotion towards Amma and MG Ramachandran (MGR), the people have stood up, shoulder to shoulder in the slightest of disturbance. While MGR’s death caused mass riots, there were reports of suicide on Jayalalithaa’s passing away, and inarguably, the same will happen for other greats when their time comes.But, can you help but notice, there is one idiosyncratic thing in common between swivel-eyed dedication towards them and Jallikattu: Cinema. Not only them, even DMK’s C.N Annadurai and MGR have been put on a pedestal because of their background in bioscope.
Jallikattu, as a sport has been a part of quite a few movies in Tamil Nadu, either as a basis of a storyline or as a tribute and sometimes as the whole narrative. From Rajini mastering a wild bull in Murattu Kalai in 1981 to Kamal Hassan doing the same in Virumandi in 2004; from Cheran Padian in 1991 to Ilami (Jallikattu tribute) in 2016, the sport, however, rooted to the ground, has made a place in the minds of the urban youth marinated in pop culture, as well.