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Type: Theses
Title: Cinematic charisma as a political gateway in South India: the case of Tamil Nadu
Author: Pongiyannan, Dhamu
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: This PhD thesis is about cinematic celebrities who use their stardom as a launching pad for their political careers in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It examines the relationship between film stars (revered as gods) and politics in Tamil Nadu, where all the Chief Ministers since 1967 have been former actors. This symbiosis is likely to continue as current film stars also venture into politics by launching political parties. This study presents an insight into the phenomenon by investigating the charisma of five actor-politicians— MG Ramachandran (MGR), Jayalalitha, Rajinikanth, Vijayakanth, and Sarathkumar— and their films through textual and discourse analysis. This study is the first comprehensive scholarly work that deals with the relationship between Tamil cinema and politics from the emergence of the late legendary actor-politician MGR (1917–1987) in the mid-1970s until the incumbent Chief Minister Jayalalitha (an actress and former mistress of MGR), and actor-politician Vijayakanth, currently the Leader of the Opposition. This thesis adopts a film studies approach within a broader cultural studies context in order to understand those aspects of race, class, gender, and caste that operate in Tamil society and are represented through films and their star actors. The Tamil film industry produces these cultural elements in its narratives by presenting its film stars as 'heavenly bodies‘. By applying Max Weber‘s notion of 'charismatic leadership,‘ and Richard Dyer‘s star studies approach this thesis attempts to understand the adulation of Tamil film stars and their political ascendancy. Looking through the prism of film spectacles and by navigating through the charisma of stars, this study presents a detailed picture of contemporary Tamil culture.
Advisor: Pugsley, Peter C.
McCann, Benjamin Edward
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2013.
Keywords: film
Tamil cinema
Indian cinema
cultural studies
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/598bf9b03ff7f
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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