Alright, I know you’re judging me. Vijay fans have always been branded dumb, unable to process simple cognitive skills, just so the main-stream, upstanding citizens of Tamil Nadu can feel better about themselves as they palaver Nolan-bred theories to unsuspecting bystanders. What they don’t understand is how effortlessly Ilayathalabathy Vijay has graced Kollywood with main-stream progressive ideas that define our future and beyond. He has constantly been a comrade for all of the values India stands for and in a way that people draw inspiration from. You may see gigantic effigies of Vijay being worshipped by thousands alike as some sort of blind, gullible fan-following, but I (and rest of Thalabathyites) see it as a stand-alone proof that fairytales of loyalty, goodness, and heroism still sell and mean to people who are otherwise seen as cynical. And that is where Vijay is a beacon of hope.
Read on to check how Vijay effortlessly and consciously spreads progressive ideas that blossomed in 12th-century Greece and now has become the prime-time seat holder in major elections all around the world.
(Also, this post is based on the work done by ThinkTank. Over the past years, ThinkProgress organized a collective effort to curate the answers to what it means to be a progressive; the document is free and you can find it here.)
Liberal ideas of freedom is broadly classified into freedom from and freedom to. It is the fundamental political concept that progressives fight for: to have control of over one’s body and private affairs and personal beliefs. It also includes healthily challenging the ruling/governmental body–this is the first clause: freedom from undue interference by the State. This has been an astounding structure in most of his movies and especially in his stand on current affairs of Tamil Nadu.
Vijay has also been an advocate of standing for freedom to be in control of one’s speech, association, and religious beliefs. In the movie Kaththi, for example, Vijay has portrayed as a lone voice of courage in supporting fiscal protection of farmers by questioning the societal responsibilities of big corporates.
There are two components to this: political equality and social equality. The first one preaches the importance of embracing the diversity of people and in not discriminating based on caste, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. To simply not be threatened by new things, but embracing them as means of opportunities. Vijay has done this time aftertime: from supporting admittance of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu to repeatedly advocating the rights of disabled people in his movies.
The second part of this clause is societal opportunity. This ensures everyone has a fair-shot at life: education, a decent job, security, etc. Vijay has, in every true sense, supported and welcomed the demonitisation decision by the Central Government hoping that it would lead to a secured lifestyle of common citizens.
Vijay has also been a constant out-cry with in-house terrorism in India between many states. Here is a roughly translated version of what he said in the movie Thalaivaa.
He is not a Tamil to you today because he is a Bihari until he beats up your brother in Bihar. This is a cycle. Let’s love like the wind that doesn’t care about religion or caste.
With rights and freedom comes responsibility–this is a core liberal idea. It means to ensure a stronger bonds in family and communities. It also means that you put public interests above your private rights (sometimes and not always). Vijay’s earlier-day movies like Poove Unakkaga, Kadhalukku Mariyadhai are not only patronages of love, but also about strong bonds that members of family should have. This means that we live responsibly so that the next generation can live in a greener and healthier earth.
Ilayathalbathy Vijay has not once been in any kind of taxation issues and has actively been a spokesman of fair taxes that ensure public and social justice to all.
Another core fundamental concept of progressives is protection of environment–the very thing that is taking blows by the wealthier population and corporates around the world. The Environmental Protection Act is starved of resources in the USA in interests of multimillion-dollar companies. Vijay has time after time been a proponent of healthy resistance of big corporates. Remember the Coca-cola incident back in the days? Vijay has said, “I have corrected myself after reading [Kaththi] script” and is no longer the ambassador of Coca-cola.
Holy s**t, that diss! He also tweeted to the same dude in another facet of I-know-you-deserve-shit-but-imma-be-calm-because-im-the-bigger-person.
The last tweet is another fundamental concept of progressives: to heed to human mistakes–embracing them in stead of shying away. Vijay has never shied away from difficult questions just like liberals all around the world.
This teaches us empathy–the one which rounds all the facades described above which are primarily directed at rights, opportunities, and duties of individuals. Progressives believe that if we blindly pursue our own needs and ignore those of others, our society will degenerate. As you can see, this is the underlining theme of almost all of Vijay’s movies.
Namma pasi poga sappidura aduththa idli innoruththanodathu.
This brings together all of the core-values of liberals–you should have empathy and put other people’s needs before yours as long as they don’t affect yours. This is the facade Vijay has in almost all of his movies: to fight for the common good even if he is the lone voice and is crushed by big systems (especially the Government) both on and off screen. This is what fairytales are made of–to have belief that simple things matter in life and they are worth fighting for.
I don’t think Vijay knows he is a liberal, but the best of liberals are the liberals that don’t know they are liberals.