How films have influenced Tamil Nadu to embrace Jallikattu
It has been a trope to project manliness, valour and the proverbial eligible bachelor.
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It is not just the biryani remark of Kamal Hassan that has influenced Jallikattu supporters in the state. In Tamil Nadu, there are two integral factors - politics and cinema that set life goals for many, right from the way they want to look to to love - to match the macho men and elegant women they see on screen.
Though not always an integral part of Tamil cinema, the now controversial Jallikattu has always had a place in films. "It has never occupied the central plot in a subject. It was always there to symbolise something, a village scene, the macho-ness of the hero et al. It was too risky and the heroes would need a dupe to get the shot done and that made it difficult," said filmmaker K Hariharan.
Yerithazhuvudal (embracing the bull) or Jallikattu has been a trope to project manliness, valour and the proverbial eligible bachelor, and the star who led the show is none other than AIADMK leader MG Ramachandran.
In his film Thaikupin Tharam (1956), the sport, which built the film's climax, helped MGR prove he is macho and win his love interest.
In 1980s, the next big star of the Tamil cinema, Rajinikanth, too had a significant role in promoting Jallikattu in films. One of his most famous outings Muratta Kalai (Rogue bull) is titled so to describe the lead character played by Rajinikanth - of a man who is known to have his own set of rules and known to not following anyone, ensured the film played out to its title.
Rajini has epitomised the character and the movie has a Jallikattu scene.
Another hero to have brought the sport to the forefront is Sharatkumar, actor-turned-politician, in his film Cheran Pandiyan, which grossed well at the box office in the early '90s. The Jallikattu scene in this movie has also been played out well and gained a lot of appreciation.
The most realistic stunt of them all, a movie that had a significant part for the bull, is Virumandi. "This is a film in which the bull plays an integral part in the plot. It is not just for one scene to show the macho-ness of the hero. It is weaved into the plot of the movie itself. It plays a part in bringing Virumandi (Kamal) and Annalaksmi (Abhirami) together and it is there for bringing together the two rival groups in the village and also it appears in the scene where Annalakshmi dies," said film critic Baradwaj Rangan.
The appeal that these films have on the state's youth is immense. In fact, most of the people who try to justify the sport start off by stating that it is a valour sport and is important to showcase our bravery. "I have performed Jallikattu and I will be one of those few actors who can claim of actually performing the sport," said actor Kamal Hassan, during a recent interview.
But animal rights activists in the state who have heard these protests are quick in their response. "What valour is there in fifty men jump on one bull? People who support the sport have political or other motives. The Supreme Court has clearly stated the reason for the ban and the ban should continue," said an animal rights activist in the city.
While the debate continues, the goals set by some prominent stars in the state have a strong influence on the people in the state.