Ramya Kannan

The crowd greeted every face they could recognise

CHENNAI: They have done it before, but it is not often that the Kollywood comes together en masse on to the street for a non-film event.

Stars, producers, directors, music directors and television actors were all present at the biggest show ever since Rajnikanth’s fast in October 2002 over the Cauvery water dispute.

The film industry called for a fast to back the State’s stand on the Hogenakkal drinking water supply scheme and to condemn the attacks on theatres showing Tamil films in Bangalore.

Early birds

No one expected it to start on time, but it actually did, with actor-politician Radha Ravi inviting the early attendees on to the stage at 8 a.m. Among the early birds were director Muktha Srinivasan, actor Sathyaraj and his son Sibiraj, actors Vijyakumar and Murali.

Over the next two hours, the stage slowly began to be weighed down by the more popular stars.

The crowd surged forward and cheered loudly every face they could recognise, interrupting often a passionate speech to welcome a late comer. Comedian Vadivelu parodied the fickle audience as they cheered for someone who walked in as he was speaking, “Someone has come. First cheer for them… Yaaay.”

As he walked in about 20 minutes past 11, dressed in his characteristic white and an uncharacteristic black beret-worn Che-like on his head, Rajnikanth also beat out an un-chartered path.

The man known for advising restraint adopted a strident tone:

“We have to nip it in the bud, or we might not even be able to cut it down with an axe,” he said, referring to the stalemate between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Before him Vijayakant and Sarath Kumar were among the seniors who had prodded the audience with their words. Directors P. Vasu, K.S.Ravikumar and T. Rajendhar, producers KRG and Pyramid Natarajan and actors S.Ve. Sekar, Arjun, Khusboo, Ramya Krishnan and Pandiarajan and FEFSI Vijayan were among those who got their turn at the podium. It was easy to see the logic behind the audience response: the shriller the speaker’s voice, the louder their cheers.

Not for all though. For the younger crop of actors, however, it was not so much what they said as their presence itself that brought the cheers on.

Playing to the gallery

Some unabashedly played to the gallery using the occasion to bond with their fans, the protest was only in the form of the black of their clothes. Actors Suriya, Vijay, Vikram, Ajit, Dhanush, Vishal, Srikanth, Namitha, Nayantara, Simbu, Trisha, Karthi and Prashanth had their brief moments at the podium.