Andhra Pradesh

How Mammootty’s YSR is helping Jagan

By B Sreekanth Naidu in Tirupati

In keeping with the symbiotic relationship between Tollywood and politics in Andhra Pradesh, a recently released biopic of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy has emerged as the campaign vehicle of the YSR Congress. The film `Yatra’ released in February to positive reviews but what is giving the film a fresh lease of life is the simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly election in Andhra Pradesh.

Since this weekend, booth level campaign managers of the YSRC in many constituencies of Andhra Pradesh are organising people from villages and small towns in groups to see the film on the big screen. In Chandragiri in Chittoor district for instance, six theatres have been booked and all four shows are screening `Yatra’. Transport and snacks are arranged for the cine goers as well to make it a memorable day out. The filmy yatra of YSR admirers is likely to extend for another 4-5 days. 

There was however, a small hitch. The organisers realised that during the intermission, a political ad of the Telugu Desam was screened, asking people to vote for Chandrababu Naidu’s party in the 11 April election. But the YSRC decided to ignore this irritant, confident that the people would leave the theatre, mesmerised only by Malayalam superstar Mammootty’s portrayal of YSR. 

In Andhra Pradesh, there exists a sizeable YSR votebank and this includes those who were positively impacted by his social welfare schemes like Arogyasri, free power and fee reimbursement. `Yatra’, the party managers believe, would help in tapping into the YSR sentiment effectively ahead of elections. 

The YSRC is also using the film material in its public meetings. In a scene in `Yatra’, Mammootty says “Nenu vinnanu, Nenu vunnanu”, which translates to “I have heard and I am there for you”. This emotional line is being used by Jaganmohan Reddy in his speeches, ensuring the `Yatra’ experience stays alive in the minds of the voters. 

The TDP would have hoped for a similar experiment with `NTR’, the two-part movie produced by NT Rama Rao’s son Nandamuri Balakrishna. But the films did not do well at the box-office. Balakrishna is himself the TDP candidate from Hindupur assembly constituency.

An additional headache for the TDP is Ramgopal Varma’s `Lakshmi’s NTR’ that is due to release this month. This film showcases NTR’s last days including the coup of 1995 when Naidu dethroned his father-in-law. Needless to say, RGV’s film will not show Naidu in a flattering light. Incidentally, NTR’s widow Lakshmi Parvati is now with the YSR Congress party. 

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