Tamil Nadu

Nadigar Sangam elections: a star-studded affair

The elections to the South Indian Artists Association, popularly known as Nadigar Sangam, held on June 23, marks a pause in the slew of controversies between industry bigwigs in the run-up to the polls this year.

Last held in 2015, the election is supposed to be held every three years. But the then-winner, actor Vishal and his team Pandavar Ani, were given an extension. However, this time Vishal is pitted against veteran filmmaker-actor K. Bhagyaraj’s Swami Sankaradas Ani. His close confidantes —actor Udhaya and Ishri Ganesh — have also shifted to the Opposition camp.

The controversy around a Nadigar Sangam building coming up at a prime location in Chennai has also made these elections particularly significant. While Pandavar Ani accused Sarathkumar and Radha Ravi for irregularities in its construction in 2015, Vishal landed himself in a Twitter controversy with Sarathkumar and his daughter Varalaxmi.

Over the years, the post of Nadigar Sangam chief has become crucial in Tamil Nadu as it provides power, political connections and a considerable control over Kollywood. On June 19, the District Registrar of Societies had indefinitely postponed the elections citing doubts over the electoral rolls. However, the Madras High Court later cleared the elections for June 23, directing the association to not to release the results until further orders. With both the factions working hard to woo over 3000 voters, it remains to be seen how the winning team will complete the uphill task of raising funds for the Sangam building and face the growing voices of dissent.

Actor Vishal arrives at the polling location to cast his vote. He won the 2015 polls and was elected to the General Secretary’s position by defeating Radha Ravi by 307 votes. However, this year, his candidature was shadowed by several social media and political controversies. Photo: R. Ragu
M. Nasser, the incumbent president of the Nadigar Sangam, arrives at Mylapore’s St.Ebbas Higher Secondary School to cast his vote. The actor-director will be locking horns with Bhagyraj’s Sankaradas Ani as he spearheads the Pandavars. Photo: R. Ragu
Actress Kushboo casts her vote for the Nadigar Sangam elections. Known for Chinna Thambi (1991), Kaalia (1981) and Irattai Roja (1996), the veteran actress has been active in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu film industry. In the 2015 elections, Kushboo had openly backed Vishal and his Pandavar Ani. Photo: R. Ragu
The elections are being held at the St.Ebbas Higher Secondary School in Mylapore amid tight security. Police officials were deployed in large numbers at the polling booth. Photo: R. Ragu
Actor-director Ponnvanan with his wife Saranya. Ponnvanan was appointed as the Vice President of the Nadigar Sangam in 2015. However, he resigned from the post in 2017 expressing his disapproval for Vishal contesting the R.K. Nagar bypolls and members of his faction having political affiliations. Photo: R. Ragu
Noted choreographer and actor Gayathri Raghuram arrives to cast her vote. The artist was elected as the party secretary for arts in Tamil Nadu under the BJP government. Photo: R. Ragu
Actor Suriya with his father and veteran actor Sivakumar. Suriya has won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and three Filmfare South Awards. His latest movie, NGK, directed by Selvaraghavan released earlier this year on May 31. Photo: R. Ragu
Actor Charle at the St.Ebbas Higher Secondary School. Widely popular for his comedic and character roles, the actor has appeared in a number of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films. Photo: R. Ragu
Vijay, aka Thalapathy, at the Nadigar Sangam polling location. Although he has steered clear of electioneering for the Nadigar Sangam, he backed the association’s silent protests in 2018 for the formation of a Cauvery Management Board and against the Sterlite Plant. Photo: R. Ragu
Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan is being received by Nasser, the incumbent president of the Nadigar Sangam, as he arrives to cast his vote. Pandavar Ani leader actor Vishal Krishna and its rival team leader actor K. Bhagyaraj met actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan separately on June 15. Later, Mr. Bhagyaraj said, “Mr. Kamal’s main desire was that the new Nadigar Sangam building should be built at the earliest and we certainly will do it.” Photo: R. Ragu
Recommended for you