Even as social media is agog with news of Pawan Kalyan reprising Amitabh Bachchan’s role in the Telugu remake of `Pink’, the Powerstar himself has not confirmed he is padding up for a second innings in tinsel town. Why this has generated so much attention is because of what Chiranjeevi did.
After floating his Praja Rajyam party in 2009, Pawan’s elder brother did not succeed in doing an NTR in Andhra Pradesh. Over the next five years, Chiranjeevi wound up PRP’s political operations, merged it with the Congress and once the party bit the dust in 2014, he returned to the world of cine glamour. In fact, the trust deficit generated by Chiranjeevi’s decision also contributed to Jana Sena’s abysmal electoral performance in the 2019 polls.
So the question is whether Pawan Kalyan is preparing the ground to follow in his brother’s footsteps?
We don’t know. At the Vizag public meeting on Sunday, Pawan said he would happily go back to acting in films if Jaganmohan Reddy provided good governance. That seemed to suggest that Pawan is still in two minds about facing the cameras.
To give him credit, at least in terms of appearance and general demeanor, Pawan seems more wedded to the political and people cause than Chiranjeevi ever was. But will he able to keep himself invested in politics for long, when his Jana Sena is practically a one-man outfit and the next round of elections are a good four and a half years away. That is a bigger challenge for Pawan than giving a few call sheets to a film.
But should the politically aware citizen of Andhra Pradesh have an issue with Pawan donning greasepaint all over again? After all, like any other person, he has every right to earn a honourable living. And if this craft can help him earn, why not. Don’t businessmen politicians continue to look after their business even while dabbling in politics? Why should we adopt a different yardstick for actor-turned-politicians?
After all, even NTR acted and directed `Brahmarshi Vishwamitra’ in 1991, long after he had entered politics and even done a stint as CM. MGR worked in several films after he entered politics in the 1970s. So is Kamal Haasan now, shooting for Indian 2, while keeping one foot in Tamil Nadu politics. Rajinikanth has announced his political entry but he continues to sign films. Actor Sarath Kumar is a minor player in Tamil Nadu politics and is much more active in Kollywood.
Pawan can in fact, use the movie medium to stay connected with the people and use the popular medium to give voice to causes he holds dear to his heart and ideology. Communication does not necessarily always happen through a public meeting platform, the big screen can be an effective alternative.
The problem as I see it is that Pawan made rather grandiose pronouncements about never having enjoyed the world of celluloid and that he was done with films for good. It will now seem that all that was said only for political effect in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
For Pawan to be successful, it is much more important for him to to fight the perception that he is doing political acting under the Nara Chandrababu Naidu production banner. The suspicion of a secret deal between him and Naidu before the 2019 polls was one of the factors why the Jana Sena did so badly in the polls. He was seen as the B-team of the TDP, fielded only to cut into the anti-TDP votes, a ploy that did not succeed.
For Pawan to be taken seriously despite his second innings in Telugu cinema, he will have to therefore convince the people that Naidu is neither his casting agent nor his scriptwriter or director. Till then he will only be seen as a supporting actor in the YSRCP vs TDP dominated cast of Andhra Pradesh politics.