Awaiting the verdict
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His 76th movie script, Ponnar Shankar, is a dud. Released a few weeks ago, the pseudo-historical film has bombed. Compared with this, his first 25 film scripts, including Parasakthi (1952), were masterful parables of the Dravidian ideology, almost manifestos-in-the-making of the movement that was to turn social hierarchies in Tamil Nadu upside down over the past half-century and install "dialogue" as king in Tamil cinema.
His youngest daughter, a poet and Rajya Sabha MP, is compelled to make haaziris at the Patiala House court in Delhi and might even end up behind bars. She was being promoted as a cultural czarina of a party that puts a premium on cultural politics and was backing her as a possible occupant of the chair of the minister for culture at the Centre.
The TV channel named after him, Kalaignar, is under threat of closure or seizure. His 79-year-old senior wife, the majority shareholder in the channel, too is likely to be hauled over the coals. The advertising strapline for this channel used to be "Non-stop kondattam (celebration)!"
His elder son, a Union minister, has just been cleared of a murder charge, but is under fire and seems poised to lose some political muscle in south Tamil Nadu.
His younger son, so long and carefully groomed to be the next chief minister of Tamil Nadu, might never make it to the gaddi.
His younger grandnephew is a Union minister, and his elder grandnephew runs a multi-billion-dollar media empire that now has saturation control of the Tamil film industry. But the Sun Group hardly gives space to this master of political propaganda who had virtually internalised the Goebbelsian dictum that "propaganda has absolutely nothing to do with truth".
His party might once again concede Tamil Nadu to his archrival — J. Jayalalithaa and the AIADMK — who might then set about on a political vendetta of unprecedented venom, making many supporters of the party run for cover, leading to internal tensions in its top echelons.