Andhra Pradesh

Cultural outfits up in arms against ban on ‘Chintamani’

Representatives of various organisations staging a protest in Vizianagaram against the ban on ‘Chintamani Natakam’.

Representatives of various organisations staging a protest in Vizianagaram against the ban on ‘Chintamani Natakam’.

The Andhra Pradesh government’s ban on 100-year-old ‘Chintamani Natakam’ has triggered a row with the cultural organisations opposing it and terming it as an “attack on the freedom of the artistes, and culture and traditions of the State.”

Following a request from the members of the Arya Vysya community, the government, through G.O. No. 7 issued by Rajat Bhargava, Special Chief Secretary (Culture, Tourism and Youth), had banned the staging of the play recently.

Their contention was that a character in the play, Subbisetty, a trader, had been portrayed negatively, hurting the sentiments of the community members.

The play highlights the age-old social evil, prostitution, and Subbisetty’s characterisation as one who loses his wealth to it, is what is being opposed now.

Endowments Minister V. Srinivasa Rao had said in a statement that the government took the decision following the objection raised by the Arya Vaisyas, who argued that the community as a whole was belittled.

The portrayal had raised the hackles of the Arya Vysyas during the centenary celebrations of the play organised in Eluru last year, after which they had taken up the issue with Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Though the community leaders had expressed their happiness over the ban, the cultural organisations continued their protests both in Vizinagaram and Srikakulam districts.

The play, which was written by Kallakuri Narayana Rao in 1920, was aimed at weaning people away from the social evil. The story revolves around the character, ‘Chintamani’, who seduces people.

Another character in the play, ‘Bilavamangalam’, ignores his wife and visits Chintamani’s house frequently. His friend, ‘Bhavani Sankaram’, encourages him, which ultimately leads to his downfall. ‘Subbisetty’ too is a victim as he loses all his property and respect in society.

Noted actor Bhanumathi Ramakrishna had acted in the movie, ‘Chintamani’, that was released in 1956. While actor N.T. Rama Rao had played the role of ‘Bilvamangalam’, another actor Relangi Venkataramaiah played the role of ‘Subbsietty’.

Though the play was very popular, it was alleged that the organisers had changed Subbisetty’s dialogues, which were allegedly vulgar, to attract more audience.

To mark the centenary of the play, a few cultural organisations had staged the play at several places in the district.

Vizianagaram Zilla Poura Vedika chairman and president of Dr. P.V.G. Raju Kala Vedika Bhisetti Babji said banning the play was highly deplorable.

“The aim of the play is to eradicate social evils. The realisation that dawns on Chintamani is a clear indication that the play’s motto is good. Instead of banning the play, the government should have directed the organisers not to defame Subbisetty’s character as it has offended a particular community,” Mr. Babji told The Hindu .

Along with Mr. Babji, several representatives staged a protest in Vizianagaram to step up pressure on the government to revoke the ban.

Arya Vysya InternationalFederation senior vice-president Perla Mahesh welcomed the ban. “There is a systematic attack on the community under the guise of staging ‘Chintamani Natakam’. Those who are unable to digest the fame and success of the community are trying to portray it in bad light. That is why, we welcomed the ban on the play though we have no objection to the original content in the book,” said Mr. Mahesh


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Printable version | May 28, 2022 9:53:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/cultural-outfits-up-in-arms-against-ban-on-chintamani/article38300080.ece