They rode both horses -Friday Spl. article by Naveen

The speculated political entry of Superstar Rajinikanth is the talk everywhere now. Adding fuel to it, the top actor, who recently met his fans and made promising statements, has been meeting people from various walks of life and is reportedly discussing ‘important issues’ with them.

This week, takes a look at leading Tamil actors  who took politcal plunge in the past.


Inarguably, MGR’s can only be the first name in this article. After a few years of acting in plays, he made his film debut in the 1936 with ‘Sathi Leelavathi’ in a supporting role.

By the late 1940s he graduated to lead roles and for the next three decades dominated the Tamil film industry. He became a member of the C N Annadurai-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and rapidly rose through its ranks, using his enormous popularity as a film star to build a large political base.

In 1972, three years after Annadurai’s death, he left the DMK, led by Karunanidhi, MGR’s once friend and now rival, to form his own party- the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Five years later, he steered an AIADMK-led alliance to victory in the 1977 election, routing the DMK in the process.

He became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the first film actor to become a chief minister in India. Except for a six-month interregnum in 1980, when his government was overthrown by the Union government, he remained as Chief Minister till his death in 1987, leading the AIADMK to two more electoral triumphs in 1980 and 1984.


Jayalalithaa first came into prominence as a leading film actress in the mid-1960s. Though she had entered the profession reluctantly, upon the urging of her mother to support the family, Jayalalithaa worked prolifically. She appeared in 140 films between 1961 and 1980, primarily in the Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages.

Among her frequent co-stars was M G Ramachandran, or MGR, a Tamil cultural icon who leveraged his immense popularity with the masses into a successful political career. In 1982, when MGR was Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK, the party he founded.

Her political rise was rapid; within a few years she became AIADMK propaganda secretary and was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s Parliament. After MGR’s death in 1987, Jayalalithaa proclaimed herself his political heir and, having fought off the faction headed by Janaki Ramachandran, MGR’s widow, emerged as the sole leader of the AIADMK.

Following the 1989 election, she became Leader of the Opposition to the DMK-led government headed by Karunanidhi, her bête noire. In 1991 Jayalalithaa became chief minister, Tamil Nadu’s youngest, for the first time. She became CM five times after that and died as CM in December last.


Until 1955, Sivaji Ganesan was a staunch sympathizer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Then he became a strong supporter of the Indian National Congress. Due to his popularity, he was requested to be part of the National Congress Tamil Nadu.

His respect for Kamaraj made him to support Congress. He was made the Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

After 1987, he floated his own political party (Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani). He became the president of the Tamil Nadu faction of the Janata Dal in 1989. Unlike his highly successful acting career, his political career was rather unsuccessful.


Former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran hailed K Bhagyaraj, the popular actor and master of screenplays, as his heir.

After MGR’s death, MGR Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (MGR Popular Progressive Federation) was a political party launched by Bhagyaraj in 1989.

Bhagyaraj later joined All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and also the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.


TR was running a party called Thayaga Marumalarchi Kazhagam, before joining the DMK. He then founded the All India Latchiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party in April 2004 after was expelled from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Before expulsion, he was the propaganda secretary of DMK and was elected from Park Town constituency in the 1996 Assembly polls. After 2006 elections, the DMK came back to power and he was made vice-chairman of the Small Savings Scheme. He subsequently, quit the post. He now runs Latchiya Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.


In 2005, he formed Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in Madurai. His party contested in all seats in 2006 assembly elections and won one seat contested by him.

In the 2011 election, he formed an alliance with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and contested in 41 constituencies. His party saw phenomenal success by winning 29 of the 41 seats it contested.

Notably, DMDK won more seats than the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Vijayakanth occupied the position of MLA for the second time, winning the Rishivandhiyam constituency. He also became Leader of Opposition. But the party lost all seats in 2016 polls.


In his early days as an actor, R Sarathkumar was considered to be close to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo Jayalalithaa. In 1996, Sarath Kumar entered politics joining the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

In July 2001, the party made him a Rajya Sabha member, but he resigned before the 2006 Assembly elections to join the AIADMK along with his wife Raadhika.

Sarathkumar launched his own political party the All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi on 31 August 2007.  His party contested as part of the AIADMK alliance and won in two Assembly constituencies in 2011.

By Naveen