Sun Pictures, one of the big-ticket producers in the Tamil film industry, is back to movie production after a hiatus of nearly eight years with Sarkar, slated for release on Diwali (November 6). Understandably, there is a huge buzz of expectation surrounding the film.

Except perhaps in the DMK camp, that is.

Despite the fact the Marans-owned Sun Pictures is practically from the DMK stable, there has been a sense of unarticulated disquiet over the film in the party's higher echelons.

For starters, Sarkar, as the name suggests is a political film, and is seen as a trial balloon for Vijay --- arguably the biggest star now in Tamil after Rajinikanth --- who may not be averse to getting into politics.

And any film star wanting to get into politics is some kind of a rival for the DMK in the current scheme of things in Tamil Nadu. Its party president, MK Stalin, knows only too well what power Kollywood holds over the masses of the State. After all, Stalin's dad, M Karunanidhi, along with his mentor CN Annadurai and his friend turned foe MG Ramachandran, had adroitly used the power of films to further their political careers spectacularly in the 1960s and ’70s. Stalin, quite obviously, does not want history to repeat itself, but much to his discomfort, seeing the political vacuum in the State in the aftermath of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa's exit from the scene, many a Kollywood biggie is sensing an opportunity on the political front.

Incidentally, at the audio launch of Sarkar a month ago, actor Vijay did use the platform to air some politically-loaded sentiments (on the lines of what he will do if he became the chief minister). It did not, according to sources in the DMK, go down well with Stalin who made his displeasure known to the Marans. The DMK feels Sun Pictures should not throw its considerable marketing weight behind the efforts of Vijay, which in the longer run can prove detrimental to the party. "Stalin was being practical. But the film production house had invested so much in the film that it could not back out at that stage," said a source in the party.  

Further, the needle between Stalin and Vijay also has a personal edge, and is also quintessentially a Tamil Nadu phenomenon. Stalin is known by his political nametag: Thalapathy (Commander). In Tamil Nadu, these noms de guerre are sacrosanct. Karunanidhi was addressed only as Kalaignar. Jayalalithaa was Puratchi Thalaivi. Like politicos, film stars also have these handy handles. And Vijay for long was Ilaiya Thalapathy (Younger Commander). But sometime back, he dropped the 'Ilaiya' from his title and settled for Thalapathy. This, needless to say, set him up in a straight conflict with Stalin. The latter was annoyed (his supporters have spoken about it), but Vijay continues to hold on to his new title.

Stalin, whose style is not openly confrontational, is, perhaps biding his time. Though at the moment, when the AIADMK government, has no real goodwill among the large swathe of the public, the DMK as a party is not able to make the most out of the situation. One of the reasons for the same is the distraction provided by Kollywood stars. Kamal Haasan has already floated his outfit, Makkal Needhi Maiyyam. Rajinikanth is in the process of setting up his party. When Rajini and Kamal are around, the DMK feels that it may not be able to harvest fully the anti-incumbency votes up for grabs. Also, Stalin is facing snide put-downs that he is not cut from the same political cloth as that of his dad. He seems to lack Karunanidhi's charisma as well as his cunning. 

Stalin's increasing sense of perturbation was quite visible when his party's mouthpiece, Murasoli, last week targeted, rather viciously and volubly, Rajnikanth. It was an unexpected attack, and all the more surprising considering that the Tamil Super Star is still to formally launch his political outfit (it is still in the works.) As political eyebrows were arched quizzically at the surprise turn of events, Stalin moved fast to save some face. He reportedly expressed his apologies to Rajinikanth. Though it was also said that he did so when Rajini himself called him up to to convey his displeasure at the unwarranted diatribe against him. Another birdie chirped that Stalin's apology was triggered by Sun Pictures' insistence, who as it happens, has a film (Petta) with Rajinikanth lined up for release in January. With so many crores of rupees riding on him, the Marans cannot afford to antagonise Rajini or his fans. 

Anyway, whatever might have been the fine-print of the events, it did expose the unease in the DMK camp. The DMK also has a blow-hot-blow-cold relationship with Kamal Haasan. Kamal has kept the DMK on the seat of anxiety by saying that he is not averse for a tie-up with the Congress in the State. Kamal has also gone and met with Rahul Gandhi. 

Though the DMK and the Congress in the State are long-standing allies, things are not hunky-dory now as the Congress, which seems to have sewn up a alliance with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh for the next year's general elections, is keeping its options open in TN. Though it is not any big force in Tamil Nadu, Congress, if it does not go with the DMK, will reflect badly on the latter as being unable to retain its trusted ally.

The DMK suspects that these film stars (all of them) are various teams of the BJP, and hence out to queer the pitch for the Dravidian party. "We have a feeling that though their individual strategies and political ideas are different, they are eventually helping the AIADMK and the BJP. Hence our party needs to remain guarded," added the source.

The DMK is also worried that if it openly attacks these film stars, then their (the stars') huge fan base may turn against the party. It is a kind of Catch-22 for the DMK.

In the event, the DMK's future strategy for sarkar may also depend on the kind of fortune that Sarkar enjoys.