Films and politics is family business, especially in South India. Star-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s brother Pawan Kalyan’s fiery histrionics against the Telangana movement is the latest twist in the plot.
The man, who in the run-up to the 2009 elections had campaigned with enthusiasm for his brother’s now-defunct party, Praja Rajyam, and famously called upon call to voters to “rough up Cong leaders and pull off their dhotis,” has taken on Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar in his latest film, Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu, directed by the highly regarded Puri Jagannadh. Pawan plays a journalist in the movie.
The first half of the film shows the villain killing an idealistic journalist. The plot unfolds with the villainous politico borrowing a leaf out of Raj Thackeray’s diary and delivering a powerful speech while drunk, exhorting the people to drive away all non-Telugus from the state who he declares have looted and exploited ‘Telugu Talli’ (Telugu Mother).
The movie ends dramatically with the arrival of a large number of youth in response to a call given by the hero to prevent the nefarious politician from becoming the CM. The film is fashioned along the real-life character of the late YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Clips of YSR Congress chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Chiranjeevi are played during the opening credits.
A couple of days after its release, the film caught the attention of Telangana activists who realised the indirect attack on their leader. Telangana sympathisers went on a rampage attacking cinema halls in Hyderabad and the Telangana region. TRS leader Sravan Kumar slammed the director for making a film that hurt the sentiments of the people in Telangana.
He said, “We want the film banned. Not just cuts (the state government ordered nine cuts in the film after the hue and cry by the TRS).” Ironically, it was Pawan Kalyan who promoted him in public life when the latter was in Praja Rajyam. Director Puri Jagannadh, producer Danayya as well as exhibitor Dil Raju who hails from Telangana took pains to clarify that the movie wasn’t against Telangana and announced major cuts in the film.
The TRS leaders lodged a complaint with the police. The screening was stopped for a few days. The State government stepped in and appointed a panel and recommended cuts. Jagannadh apologised, “Our intention was to promote national integration,” he explained. Pawan Kalyan has remained silent and is said to be abroad. He has a following in the Telangana region.
A few years ago, he had floated the Common Man’s Protection Force. After his brother floated Praja Rajyam, Pavan merged the CMPF with its youth wing and headed the same for a time. After the merger of Praja Rajyam with the Congress, Pawan has been conspicuous by his absence on the political scene. Now he is making up for it with the controversial film.