Balakrishna-NTR Jr. ‘double act’ becomes the most talked about subject in Andhra Pradesh

The uncle is pushing fifty and is part traditional and part modern film hero: a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but who also carved a niche for himself in Telugu filmdom.

Equally talented is the nephew, just about half his age, and a personification of all that is Gen X; talented, but who came up the hard way to become the current Tollywood heartthrob. One is the son of the late Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), and the other his grandson. Comparing Balakrishna with NTR Jr. — despite their common Nandamuri lineage — may be a bit odd but with both campaigning for the Telugu Desam Party, it has become the most talked about subject in the State.

There is also the more obvious comparison of NTR Jr. with his legendary grandfather — the two bear a striking resemblance.

Balakrishna had a head start thanks to NTR Jr.’s initial dithering. He made a promising beginning when he was formally launched at the the TDP’s massive ‘Yuva Garjana’ in Guntur. He was the show-stealer who galvanised the cadre and lived up to the party’s expectations of being a perfect foil to the Praja Rajyam’s Chiranjeevi.

Opting for a simple shirt and trouser outfit, he stuck to the party’s script, often breaking into a moustache-twirling thigh-thumping show, giving in to the demands of the party cadre. But he kept drawing the crowds, and kept them entertained with his rapid fire dialogue delivery amid long pauses.

NTR Jr. entered with a bang, after a lot of homework with the help of laptops. For several days he studied, rehearsed and then mastered the senior NTR’s style of campaigning, his dialogues, his delivery, his dress code, mannerisms and trademark waving of the left hand. So when he finally appeared on the famed ‘Chaitanya Ratham’ wearing khakhis, making the most of his resemblance to NTR and delivering a flurry of dialogues, he became an instant hit with the masses. A road accident has put an end to his campaign, but the party hopes he will take to the road before the campaign winds down.

He stuck to the party line but brought about innovations at every stage in tune with the mood of the masses. Picking up one issue at a time, he would demystify it, draw the attention of the crowd and then deliver a punch line, all in a measured and cool manner. No wonder when he speaks and makes a point, it comes with unparalleled clarity and goes straight into the heart of the people.

An example: “Much has been said about the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s padayatra before the 2004 elections. Do you know why he took it up? (pause) It was to survey the available land to hand it over to his family and friends.”

Balakrishna too has shifted gear and has begun to reinvent himself as a speaker. He has started quoting lines from his blockbuster mythological films, which goes down very well with the audience. When nephew hogs the limelight, can uncle be far behind?

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