Ahead of elections, Andhra’s season of political ‘thrillers’ storm the box office

Ahead of the elections, political parties in Andhra Pradesh are back to their moves on the big screen to project their leaders either as a villain or hero

Updated - February 24, 2024 11:08 am IST

Published - February 23, 2024 09:02 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

A theater in Vijayawada with a poster of the movie, ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’, in May 2019.

A theater in Vijayawada with a poster of the movie, ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’, in May 2019. | Photo Credit: File Photo

It’s an election year, and political parties in Andhra Pradesh are back to their moves on the big screen to project their leaders either as a villain or hero.

Ahead of the elections in 2019, a series of politically-motivated movies hit the silver screen. In January that year, actor and Hindupur MLA Nandamuri Balakrishna had come up with ‘NTR: Kathanayakudu’, a biopic about former Chief Minister and TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao. A month later, on February 7, its sequel, ‘NTR: Mahanayakudu’, was released.

While ‘NTR: Kathanayakudu’ depicted the journey of NTR, right from his entry into the cinema industry to his foray into politics, the sequel showed a part of his political journey, with Rana Daggubati playing the role of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Both the biopics were directed by acclaimed filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi.

However, ‘NTR: Mahanayakudu’ clashed at the box office with another film, ‘Yatra’, hitting the silver screen a day later on February 8. Directed by Mahi V. Raghav, the biopic about former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy highlighted the ‘Padayatra’ undertaken by YSR before the 2009 elections.

During March-end that year, noted filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Lakshmi’s NTR’ was released. The movie was based on the events that unfolded after Lakshmi Parvathi came into NTR’s life.

‘Rajadhani Files’

Two movies were released this month. The first was ‘Yatra 2’, a biopic about Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, and the second being ‘Rajadhani Files’, which created ripples as it was based on the issue of farmers’ continuing protest in the Amaravati capital region after the YSRCP government announced its three-capital decision a couple of years ago.

Several YSRCP leaders promoted ‘Yatra 2’, and were screening the movie to party supporters free of cost. The ‘Rajadhani Files’ had the backing of the TDP leaders.

Mr. Ram Gopal Varma had lined up two movies — ‘Vyooham’ and ‘Sapadham’, which were said to be based on the events pertaining to Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mr. Naidu and JSP president K. Pawan Kalyan after the 2019 elections. They are scheduled to be released during the first week of March.

Though these movies are acclaimed by supporters, critics and audience, their commercial success at the BO is very low.

Politically-motivated movies are not new, say analysts. Such films are either leader-centric or issue-based, but the motto is undeniably to influence the voters and benefit the political parties, they say.

Director Mani Ratnam’s ‘Iddaru’, and RGV’s Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Sarkaar’ and Vivek Oberoi and Surya-starrer two-part film ‘Raktha Charithra’ were based on the life and events of a few political leaders. The names of the characters, places, and situations used to be changed earlier, but now the filmmakers are hesitant to change the character names.

“Cinema is being used as a platform to showcase leaders as either a villain or hero. Most of the scenes and situations in these films are fictional. There may be some impact on the audience, especially in the rural regions, but are barely received in the urban areas. As all such movies are politically backed, there is no issue of the collections made and targets achieved,” says a senior political leader.

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