By P Ramasamy
As though Tamil movies are not enough, live shows featuring famous actors from South India in Malaysia might further drain the economically poor Indian community, the majority of whom are Tamils.
I have been informed that tickets are already on sale for the mega “Natchithra Vizha” (stars’ event) to be held on Jan 6, 2018, at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
Famous South Indian actors like Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan, famous movie directors and well-known musicians will be featured in this event.
More than 300,000 Tamil movie fans are expected to attend the grand event being organised by the South Indian Artistes Association and MyEvent International Business Group, a subsidiary of the tourism and culture ministry.
This is not the first show as many cultural and movie-related shows featuring famous artistes have been held in the past.
In fact, it can be argued that these mega live shows have overtaken the attraction to Tamil movies in terms of raking in profits.
Given the close cultural and economic ties between the governments of India and Malaysia, films and cultural shows have become an important aspect of the Indian cultural landscape in Malaysia.
Rather than Tamil movies, live cultural shows featuring famous actors and actresses have become a common phenomenon in Malaysia. Hundred of thousands of fans attend these cultural shows, spending millions of ringgit.
For movie actors in South India, these shows provide an excellent avenue to earn big bucks that might not be available from starring in movies. They are prepared to travel long distances, not just to Malaysia but also to other places in the world to earn handsome profits.
Even the Malaysian government recognises the value of the shows for tourism purposes. This explains why the tourism and culture ministry takes an interest in organising these events by being a co-organiser.
Whether MIC invests capital in these shows is not clear. But some of its leaders have a hand in organising shows featuring South Indian actors and movie directors. In fact, starting from the days of former MIC president S Samy Vellu, it would be unthinkable for the organisers of these events to omit the involvement of MIC.
Whether MIC leaders derive profit from these ventures cannot be ascertained. However, since they are part of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, they assist in terms of facilitating the entry permits of those coming from India.
Whether MIC’s involvement in these shows gets them political support is another question. Even though hundreds of shows have been held in the country, with the direct or indirect participation of MIC, these shows have not brought any political benefits to the party in terms of getting the support of the Indian community.
There is no reason to believe that the mega cultural show planned for January 2018 is going to make any political impact on MIC or BN in terms of getting political support from the Indian community.
There is nothing wrong with having shows or cultural events featuring artistes from foreign countries. Shows or movies from South India have been featured in Malaysia for years. However, those days they were considered low-budget and there were seldom tickets sold. In other words, they were free of charge.
The scenario today has changed. Cultural events featuring foreign artistes are not cheap. These artistes come to Malaysia, do their performance and get paid mega bucks. They hardly know about the political, social and economic conditions of the poor Indians in the country. All that these “famous” or “infamous” actors think about is how to make quick money before they return to India. I have yet to come across situations where a portion of the funds collected has been channelled towards the welfare and benefit of the Indian community.
It is really ironic that the bulk of those who attend these cultural events featuring foreigners are ordinary Indians – those who have been denied opportunities in this country due to their marginalisation. As though they have not been exploited enough, these cultural events further drain their earnings.
Some would say that these cultural events and movies are nothing but the opium of Indians. They provide temporary relief or entertainment for the community, but in actual sense they rob them of whatever they have for their families.
Unfortunately, the clowns and chameleons in MIC continue to support such initiatives, perhaps being deluded into thinking that cheap entertainment can divert their attention from their everyday political, social and economic problems.
P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.