A must for [anyone] who wants to understand Tamil Nadu politics' —New Indian Express Tamil Nadu is a state very different from the rest of India, both culturally and historically. It has retained a fundamentally separate identity for itself in language and caste structure, and this is most evident in its politics. Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars: The Word of Tamil Politics tells a political story that has all the elements of a blockbuster film, where ironies and larger-than-life characters abound: Periyar, a Kannada-speaker, who introduced the notions of Tamil self-respect and regional pride, yet dismissed Tamil as 'a barbaric language'; the matinee idol MGR, a Malayalee born in Sri Lanka, who became Tamil Nadu's most popular mass leader; the Dravidian movement which, by its own ideology, should have helped the Dalits but has instead supported only the upwardly mobile middle groups; and parties that rose to power by propagating anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin sentiments but have now allied themselves with the BJP. It is fitting that this reel-like scenario is presently dominated by the electoral politics of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, one a scriptwriter and the other a former actress. Well-known writer and journalist Vaasanthi has observed the dramatis personae in this epic drama at close quarters for a decade. Now updated with an additional chapter on the war of succession Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars offers an objective and insightful view of a political world that is both fascinating and perplexing.