A mild storm blew over ‘Toofan’, the Telugu version of the film, ‘Zanjeer’, starring Ramcharan Tej, son of Union Minister K. Chiranjeevi, as it hit the screens on Friday.
People’s sentiment - both those in favour of a separate State and those who wanted Andhra Pradesh to remain unified, had its impact across all regions of the State as at least in three dozen places, the screening was delayed and disrupted. At several places across the State, morning shows did not take place. In Medak district of the Telangana region, morning shows were obstructed in three theatres by activists who vented their ire at Mr. Chiranjeevi for taking an open stand in favour of a unified State.
Meanwhile, pro-Telangana supporters on Friday stalled the screening of ‘Toofan’ at two theatres in Shamshabad. Close to 50 supporters came to Laxmi and Ganesh theatres and raised slogans against Chiranjeevi’s remarks against Telangana. Irate supporters burnt the posters of the film and said that they would not allow Chiranjeevi family’s films to be screened in theatres if he continued to behave in a similar manner. After protestors left the theatres, managements started screening the film from afternoon onwards.
In several locations of Andhra and Rayalaseema though, people were angry, because he had not made his voice ring loud and clear on a unified State, and that he was hanging on to his position as Union Minister. Some managements did not wish to take any chances, while others who apparently tried to go ahead with the screening, were obstructed for an hour or so.
Tirupati, the place where people cast their votes to make Mr. Chiranjeevi an MLA, appeared to lead the protest wave. Against the original schedule of 19 theatres, where the film was to release, only four could actually screen morning shows, and fans were disappointed in Tirupati, Chittoor and Madanapalli towns.
In Kurnool town, protestors ransacked furniture, demanding that the screening be stopped. In Palacole, the place from where his father-in-law and film producer Allu Arvind hails and near Mr. Chiranjeevi’s native place of Mogalturu in Narsapur constituency, screenings were delayed.
A spokesperson for Mr. Chiranjeevi described the disruptions as clearly the handiwork of local elements and alleged that leaders of the YSR Congress Party were behind them all. “In several places, there were indeed delays, but pressure from fans who milled around the theatres forced managements to project the film. Fans swore that while they were indeed for a unified State, they could not be deprived of the pleasure of watching their favourite young star’s film on Day One,” he said.