Khaidi, Satakarni Make Sankranthi For Telugu Youth

Hyderabad: Sankranthi festival is being celebrated more in cinema theatres than at homes. Release of two mega films in which two film cum political stars representing two political cultures and two different castes acted in the main roles has been the topic of discussion all through the Telugu-speaking States. It is more in Andhra Pradesh than Telangana State, the reason being that both the heroes hail from, and have their support base in Coastal Andhra.  The stars in question, of course, are Chiranjeevi and Balakrishna.

AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu made full use of the opportunity provided by the release of the hundredth film ‘Gautamiputra Satakarni’ in which his brother-in-law Balakrishna played the lead role. He brought Union Minister for Information and broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu to Vijayawada by a special flight from Delhi for the audio release function of the film. Since the Satakarni was understood to have ruled from Dhanyakatakam, Chandrababu wanted to highlight Amaravati, the new capital of AP. The entertainment tax for the film was waived as it is a historic film. The film was sought to be produced long ago with NTR acting as the hero. But it was abandoned due to various reasons thus helping Balakrishna to don the role.  The script of the film had a lot of dialogues on Telugu race, its prowess and self-respect. References to Amaravathi and its glory have been additional factors that made Chandrababu to offer tax waiver. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR), a fan of NTR, was very friendly with the latter’s son and film hero. He attended the muhurat at the time of starting the shooting to convey his good wishes. KCR has also met Balakrishna before the release of the film and granted entertainment tax exemption. The justification is that Satakarni was born at Kotilingala in TS. This fact was disputed by historians.

There are some historians who accused the film producers of distorting the history to suit the present-day political interests. Satakarni was not a Telugu but a Maharastrian, claimed Lingala Panduranga Reddy, president, Voice of Telangana. He said Satakarni never fought with Demetrius. Both were about 400 years apart. Reddy said Satakarni and Kanishkas ruled different parts of India at the same time. Satakarni, a Maharastrian, ruled Telugu land for some time, he said. Reddy told media that he is going to file a petition in court of law protesting against distortion of history for the sake of promoting Amaravathi and Telugu race.

Chiranjeevi, on the other hand, acted in his 150th film titled ‘Khaidi No 150’. He acted in the lead role of a farmer who fights against multinational companies which eyed the farm lands in the name of industries. Acting in a film after nine years of political activity, Chiranjeevi got his film release one day in advance thus scoring a point over Balakrishna. ‘Khaidi No 150’ did well at the box office for the first three days giving back to the producers their investment plus some profit. The very fact that Chirajeevi acted in a film after a long gap was enough to make his fans go crazy. But here also the story was changed here and there to suit Chiranjeevi. The original Tamil film, Kathi, based on which ‘Khaidi No 150’ was produced, did very well and there was no departure from the storyline to suit hero’s image. While Chiru’s fans drawn mostly from Kapu community celebrated ‘Khaidi’, Balakrishna’s worshippers, mainly comprising the youth from Kamma community, thronged the theatres showing ‘Satakarni.’ Those who are not aligned to either of the two heroes opined that ‘Satakarni’ was a better movie than ‘Khaidi.’

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