After winding up dubbing for That Four Letter Word around 2 a.m. and getting home around three, the last thing you want to do is to take off to the heartland of Tamil Nadu to get a feel of the election mood. More so, when you’ve been asked to follow Captain on his election trail from Chidambaram to Vriddhachalam just as summer peaks.
Suderman left home sleepless at 4 a.m. for an adventure that covered over 600 kilometers in 15 hours, spending six hours and 127 kilometres with Captain’s convoy, stopping every few kilometres on battered roads and coming face-to-face with Captain’s fan base in the remotest of villages.
Meanwhile, I have uploaded the pictures: Watch the slideshow here and click on the pic to read the captions.
Here goes the account of what happened:
A few kilometers outside Chidambaram, people have come out of their huts and lined up along the road. They know that Captain Vijayakanth would pass that way. Soon enough, a little boy bursts a cracker. Another has a wardrobe malfunction, he hastily fastens his button-less trouser as the convoy approaches.
There’s a sense of urgency as the first car in the convoy, asks people to clear the road. “We don’t have permission to stop here. Please forgive us but you can see Captain from there,” says the speaker from the Tempo Traveller, the third vehicle in the convoy. Seated next to him, Captain waves.
Captain’s convoy has six vehicles in all, including the security bus, the CB-CID personnel following him and his private multi-utility vehicle. Only two cars for party workers. “We have told party workers not to join the convoy. We don’t want to flout election rules. We told them that if they follow, we will not stop the police from seizing the vehicles,” says Captain’s aide.
A few metres away, there’s a huge group of people who plead him to stop. Captain gets out and tells them they don’t have permission to stop, apologises and makes a quick one-line request with folded hands: “I promise you change, help me.”
10.20. After a long stretch of battered roads, he stops at his first stop for the day, Kumarachi.
Within seconds, hundreds of people surround his convoy as Captain emerges from the top of the vehicle. “This is my first time here and what good roads you have,” he says in sarcasm as the crowd cheers. “I heard that the roads have been this way for 15 years. This road, a short-cut connecting Chidambaram to Trichy has been like this for years and you keep voting for the same people?” he adds. “It’s been 20 years since MGR died. Both these parties remember his name every election and you blindly vote for them?”
“Keep the relief aside and think for a moment. Do you have roads? Do you get good ration rice? Do you get water? I have not been idle since September. I’ve been talking to people to understand your problems. Your problems can be solved with inter-linking of local water-bodies. You have five classrooms and two teachers. How is this ‘Porkaalam’?” he said criticising the ruling government, as a party worker goes around with a Dictaphone asking them if that speech is reason enough to vote.
“Why would you now vote for Captain when you’ve been voting for the big two parties all these years,” he asks. “For change,” answers the youth.
As he winds up campaign, a woman asks him to name her baby. “It’s not my job to name babies,” he says. They insist. Embarrassed at the moment, he names her Vijayalakshmi and gets into the vehicle.
As his convoy heads to the next stop, a funeral by the roadside is temporarily suspended as the mourners desert their chairs to rush to the road to get a glimpse of Captain.
Next is a Muslim dominated neighbourhood. Captain emerges out with the Muslim cap and says it felt like home-coming. “If I wanted to make money, I would traded suitcases for alliances. Please vote for my brave decision to go alone … We will not discriminate on the basis of caste or religion,” he says during his stop at Lalpettai, his second pit-stop after Yelleri. “I don’t have to tell you about the other two parties. Watch Sun TV and Jaya TV and you will know what they have been doing,”
At the Kattumannarkoil stop, he’s thronged by hundreds again. “I’m coming here alone without any alliances. The DMK and AIADMK have money power. I’ve come here hoping to win on people power. Don’t let me down,” he pleads. “They say I beg to the people. I say I should and must beg only to the people and not with political parties,” he adds as the crowds cheer again.
As he passes Palayamkottai, he sees huge groups of children in uniform along the road. Captain stops for a moment to enquire. “Do you know me,” he asks. The kids nod. “Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam,” a girl says out loud. “Not bad, you are in tune with politics. Don’t think about all that. Let all that be, study well now.”
“Why are you out in the sun? Have you all eaten?” The kids are thrilled at the gesture.
Outside the Srimushnam temple, he’s mobbed by hundreds, perched on rooftops and trees.
“I’m dark. You are dark. I stand under the same sun as you do,” he says as the crowd roars. Not once does Captain make any personal attack or even name political leaders. He prefers to criticize government and parties. “The DMK says they will give you rice for two rupees. They were in power the last term. Why couldn’t they give it then? I don’t want to lure you with such false promises. I’m not saying I’m going to bring the Himalayas here. I promise good basic amenities. I will get my symbol only on April 20. But I believe that even if get it only a day before the elections, you will remember it,” continues Captain.
As the convoy makes its way into his constituency Vriddhachalam, there are crackers (which Captain pulls up his party cadres for, asking them not to waste money on them) and fan-fare with a band playing and the town has come alive with people taking to the roads just to get a glimpse of the man. Suddenly there over a dozen cars added to the convoy. The roads are clogged with people and vehicles.
“I’ve come here to release my election manifesto in front of the temple, to the public. It will speak for itself. I will spend at five or six days here to talk to you. They asked me why I didn’t contest from Madurai and chose Vriddhachalam. It’s because I believe you are my own people, just like my people in Madurai.”
Good job, Suderman. Kpee us posted on the observations from your trip.
What were you doing on the campaign trail with Captain? Work assignment? I’m confused!
of course! why else would I???
very inspiring work there…I am a new blogger and wondering if you could me how to put a title to the posts.I cant seem to figure it out!!Would you add my link to your blog?I am blogging in partnership with a friend,actually we have just started!!
suderman ,this is arch again….sad that you had to go all the way there…me feels truly pavam for you….hmmm and iam waitin for the blog on this…cheers arch
there is something between u and gabtan…andha paper review,praveen sudhesi review,ippo…
awaiting the travelogue…
Your captain story was poignant (wink, wink)… hope you guessed who it is.
So where is the story!?
Will blog about the eye-opener of an experience tomorrow
i know.. Captain is the next CM. Right? 🙂
Chkd out the pics… Gabtun pugazh padings-ku waiting… 😀
I am eagerly looking forward to your blog about Captain. Even though i am not a great fan of his movies.. he comes across as a honest politician who may do some good work for the people.. well Hmm.. come to think of it, i thought the same about Amma too… Not that i am disappointed about her second innings..
anyway.. i wish he wins atleast a couple of seats.. Its always good to have more leaders
suderman, neenga nejamave Sudhesi produce panna sudhish illaiya? 😉
Captain seems to be crossing your path quite often these days.
when’s the interview due?
For the nil expectations I had and I can’t believe I am saying this, but he does not sound that bad.
Do they all start this way and later on get lured on to the corrupt world of politics.
or is he just bullshitting….
Compared to his movies, his dialogues here are much more sensible.
I got a question. How come ‘the Hindu’ folks asked you to report captain’s campaign? Are you not a lifestyle reporter and movie reviewer? Do they keep shuffling work among you guys? Just curious…
Is there gonna be an interview with him?
Are you voting for Captain now?
i wish i cud go 2 madurai n vote 4 captain..but then i have log parithan in T-bagar…:(
Interesting and whats more interesting is that you have not added your observations on Captain and his political future.I will be voting for Vijakanth’s party. I wouldn’t have believed it a couple of years back, me voting for captain after all the insults he heaped on thalaivar Rajini a few years back over the water problems with Karnataka.
Vijaykanth is not such a bad guy, there has been a lot said about Captain’s garish costumes, his looks and his punch dialogues. But, we dont want glib talking good looking politicians. Captain single handedly brough a bickering nadigar sangam together. He transformed the debt ridden nadigar sangam to an organization that can stand on its own feet. The guy has the necessary leadership skills and I think he truly deserves a chance to bring the “change” that all of us so desparately want.Gosh never thought this comment will turn so syrupy!
suderman …great job ….but what did u feel about the whole thingy? get ot of the reportes shoe and tell us what u felt about the whole thing
u still sudhish kamath?or changed ur name to sudesi kamath?
Good presentation…so wat is ur perceptio abt captains chances i this election?? Since u have met many ppl along the line, do u think ppl r ready for a change??
Today, i read the article in the center fold of your paper … You have come a long way … though i did not see the relevance of such an article in the bangalore edition.
Hi Sudish, r u the one who is contesting in Gudiyatham for Captain’s Party?
If u r the guy. All the best man.
gaptun Oda gudiyatham constituency candidate? *shocked*
Where’s Praveen? Seekkaram sud torchu pOtta thundOda oru photoshop image ready pannu pa! 😛
very cool post man, made for really fascinating reading. I think one of the commentors asked, if he seemed genuine or was he just bullshitting. i’m curious to know too, what’s your take on that?
very well written – I am having goose bumps while reading about the one man army..He is simply the greatest politician alive! He is the best!