HYDERABAD: While an uneasy calm prevailed in the faction-ridden Anantapur district, NTR fans, TDP leaders and workers kicked up a furore over Ram Gopal Varma's controversial film `Raktha Charitra' which portrays former chief minister N T Ramarao as a man who encouraged violence. The film was released all over the state on Friday.
The film mainly deals with three-decade-old faction feuds in Anantapur district portraying the violence unleashed by the warlords. While Shatrughan Sinha plays NTR, Vivek Oberoi plays the role of former minister Paritala Ravi, who was allegedly assassinated by hired killer Moddu Seenu. Another character was that of Paritala's arch rival Maddela Cheruvu Suri, who spent several years in jail for his involvement in the Jubilee Hills bomb blast case in which Ravi escaped an attempt on his life.
TDP MLC Y V B Rajendra Prasad was vocal in condemning Varma's attempt to showcase NTR as a man who encouraged violence. "Varma is a sadist. He has no respect for human relations and values. He must delete the scenes that defame NTR and hurt his fans and party workers,'' he said and warned they would take up a stir against the screening of the film if the scenes were not deleted.
"We cannot digest certain dialogues about NTR as he did nothing to encourage factionists when he was CM,'' NTR fans association leader Darapaneni Srinath said. TDP MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi called the bluff of Varma. "Camera in his hands is like keeping a stone in a mad man's lap,'' he said. Curiously, a majority of TDP activists (read Kammas) in the coastal region enjoyed the film for showcasing Kamma warlord Paritala Ravi in Reddy-dominant Rayalaseema region as a hero.
TDP activists who were livid with the portrayal of NTR in poor light in the film, staged protests in several parts of the state. Though no violent incidents were reported from Krishna, the native district of both NTR and the director, angry fans and party workers ransacked a theatre in Karimnagar, stopped the screening in two theatres in Vizag and tore flexis, cutouts and banners of the film at some places. TDP workers burnt effigies of Varma in Vijayawada, Karimnagar, Anantapur and other areas.
Police lathicharged TDP cadres for staging protests at a theatre in Anantapur and took 30 activists into custody in Srikakulam. Uttarandhra Parirakshana Samithi activists shouted slogans against Varma and demanded an apology from the director for showing NTR as a leader who encouraged factional violence.
Krishna district TDP chief Devineni Umamaheswara Rao said Varma had no right to portray a great leader like NTR in poor light. "We will teach him a lesson when he visits the district,'' he warned.
`Rakta Charitra' -- both in Telugu and Hindi -- was released in 250 theatres across the state. The Tamil version would be released in Tamil Nadu later. The movie in Telugu and Hindi is being made in two parts. The second part would be released on Nov. 19.
Paritala Ravi's widow Paritala Sunita, MLA and TDP leader, and Suri, a Congress leader now, and their followers and close aides did not react. Curiously, Varma who boasted that he would watch the film sitting among the audience in Anantapur, developed cold feet and did not turn up.
Earlier, in the wake of threat calls and protests by several organisations and political parties, police maintained tight vigil at all the three theatres in Anantapur where the cinema was exhibited. The film could not be shown in Penukonda and Dharmavaram as the film reels did not reach in time, while it got delayed in Hindupur. The film could not be released in eight theatres in the district.
Published in Times of India