The apparent success of the image politics of MGR and to a certain extent that of RK largely depend on the way they image politics in their fi lms. This is done though the innovative and intricate ‘tactexting’1
(tactical texting) — a narrative technique by which selectively drawn politically loaded acterances are tactically positioned at ‘critical joints’ of the narrative structure2 and inseparably meshed with the story so that for the viewer — censors included — such messages look unassumingly neutral or are so innocently spontaneous that they go unnoticed. Even vitriolic political attacks are made unobtrusive and subterraneous by cleverly camoufl aging them as integral to the story, and the resultant meta-narrative maintains the semblance of political neutrality. But tactexting is not just that simple! While each fi lm as a grand narrative opens up a dreamatic world of fantasy for the fans to temporarily trancelate the harsh realities of day-to-day existence, the acterances at the joints inspire (or instigate) a more specifi c and motivated political reading of the fi lm, offering a ‘double-relish’ to the fans. Even while the viewing is going on, the ardent fans of MGR and RK, being familiar with the political happenings pertaining to their respective heroes, unravel the acterance at each joint and lapse into ‘ecstasy’ by the decoding of the ‘revelation’ of the political stand of the hero. Besides, the decoding of an acterance at one joint leads the viewers to expect more acterances with similar or greater political import to occur with the progression of the story, and the experience of suspense and surprise come into play; not so infrequently, the same expectation leads the viewers to impute political meaning where it is not intended originally. Thus, tactexting makes the narrative at once a parallel political discourse — a delightful one at that — simultaneously with the story’s unfolding. The impact of
tactexting enigmatically does not depend on the number of acterances; rather it depends on the intensity of the star’s political involvement and the potency of the text to catapult a forceful big-bang at current politics. That explains why both MGR and RK resort to tactexting as the most common technique to sustain an on-going para-social interaction with their fans even beyond the screen.