Shobha, the rani of mudslinging
Monday, April 13
Reacting to my post against Chiranjeevi, PRP mahila president Shobha Rani addressed a press conference yesterday advising me to maintain decorum. I am aghast that of all the people Shobha Rani, who has the dubious honour of mudslinging Roja, should advise me on decorum and dignity. This is like a devil quoting scriptures. I don’t think I should learn to be dignified from Shobha Rani.
If this was the dirtiest election campaign ever, the credit should go to Shobha Rani. I am amazed that she thinks she is an example of decorum herself. It’s time the PRP leader did some introspection or is it a case of memory lapse? Wasn’t she the one who vilified Roja? I don’t want to repeat the objectionable comments and choicest abuses Shobha Rani hurled against the former actress. But calling an actor a club dancer and vamp character does not bring ‘shobha’ to both the smear campaigner and the party. Her abuse of Roja was not only aimed at lowering the dignity of the actor but the womanhood itself.
Perhaps, Shobha Rani doesn’t understand that her deeply personal allegations were aimed at a candidate's most precious asset: her reputation. The comments are demeaning, objectionable and defamatory. But I wonder if Shobha Rani understands the difference between a personal slur and a legitimate political argument. What was ironic was that while High Court advocate Shobha Rani unleashed a vilification campaign against Roja, the advocate of samajika nyayam remained a mute spectator.
I want to ask Shobha Rani and Chiranjeevi if they respect film artistes and women at all? Does Chiranjeevi subscribe to Shobha Rani’s viewpoint on female artistes? Every election campaign has its share of hard-ball political tactics, but nothing is more discomforting than a smear campaign. My criticism and my husband’s criticism against Chiranjeevi was issue based and not personal. My husband Rajasekhar called Chiranjeevi a wolf in sheep’s clothing, something that even PRP leaders like Parakala Prabhakar have been calling though not in the same words.
Can Chiranjeevi silence the popular anger against him over the allocation of seats? Can Chiranjeevi deny that the party tickets were not sold? Can Chiranjeevi deny that party tickets were not given to undeserving candidates? Parakala Prabhakar and Samaram went on record to say that the social justice concept was only an appealing mask. Katari Eswar Kumar, Kesineni Srinivas, Masala Eeranna, M Sudershan and a long list of others remarked that the PRP has metamorphosed into a film production centre where the party tickets were auctioned to the highest bidder. Why even Shobha Rani was quoted in the media alleging that injustice was done while allocating party tickets. Is this the ‘maarpu’ that Chiranjeevi envisaged for the state?
Maa inti ammayi. Maa inti alludu
Saturday, April 11
The last week has been quite hectic. I could not find enough time to blog my views. Braving the heat and dust in this season of elections is indeed a tough task. Hats off to Rajasekhara Reddy garu who tours the state so extensively without a break. I must say the chief minister is a power house of energy. In Tekkali, me and my husband received tremendous response from the people. My husband landed in some trouble over references to a particular community. This was done unwittingly. My husband wanted to make some clarifications through my blog.
My husband Rajasekhar writes
Quoting surveys, I said Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party will not get more than 25-30 seats. Even these seats are because the actor belongs to a certain community whose numbers are high in some pockets of the state. I was critical of Chiranjeevi’s brother Nagababu for trying to influence the voters in the name of caste. But that should not be the criterion why someone should vote. It is in this context I said my wife also belongs to the same community and the crowd immediately responded, “Maa inti ammayi. Maa inti alludu.” This is very encouraging.
In the meeting, I said Chiranjeevi is no Obama. His slogans of ‘social justice and ‘change’ are at best high sounding. But where is the change when his party consists of a group of old discarded leaders of other parties? It is nothing but old wine in a new bottle. All we hear from the megastar is dialogues like ‘Ganji ninchi Benzi’.
Today, the entire state is observing the political developments in Praja Rajyam Party. It is a misnomer to call it Praja Rajyam. In fact, it is dhana rajyam. Only those who can pump in money are being given tickets while sincere party leaders are denied the same. Openly some party leaders have been accusing Allu Aravind of demanding money from ticket aspirants.
A former spokesperson of the party even called the party a ‘visha vruksham.’ I have read reports in some newspapers that some PRP leaders were giving tickets to the highest bidder. Does saamajika nyayam mean spinning crores of rupees?
Chiru, stop poor me, poor me
Monday, April 6 “I used to work for three shifts. When I was newly married, I was busy shooting films and did not go on a honeymoon. I worked for 45 days at a stretch for a film which Jayaprada was the lead actor.” That’s crusader Chiranjeevi ruing about how he sorely missed his honeymoon.
‘“I am from a very humble background. We had just five acres of land. My father was a police constable.” That’s Chiranjeevi again. Here are some more: “As my grandparents were old, I had to perform all the household duties, living on the vegetable grown in our backyard and prawns available in our pond besides rice. While studying BCom, I had to cycle to a near by town, Narsapur daily to reach my college, covering quite a good distance. I used to eat whatever was left over in the night the next day because I did not want to trouble anybody early morning.”
These statements make one wonder if Chiranjeevi suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder or is it narcissistic personality disorder? The megastar seems to be preoccupied with the thought of himself, constantly brooding over his hardships and the sacrifices he claimed to have made. Often times, he slips into the morass of feeling sorry for himself. Occasional self-pity is not really a problem. Only when it becomes obsessive and recurring does it really become a problem.
So Chiranjeevi could not go on honeymoon? How does it matter now? What has that got to do with samajika nyayam? Social justice is not the politics of me, me and me. It is certainly not, the politics of pity. The high-sounding rhetoric of social justice is just a delusion created by Chiranjeevi . Thirty years after earning crores of rupees in the film industry, the megastar’s honeymoon with Tollywood is over and so he embarked on political honeymoon. But politics is not a bed of roses.
Today, the central challenges staring the nation in the face are elimination of poverty, empowering women and ameliorating the conditions of millions who are migrating to urban areas and eking out a precarious livelihood. The need of the hour is a politics that reconnects individuals with each other, a politics that looks outwards as well as inwards, a politics that is not all about ME.
Junior NTR immatured
Wednesday, March 25
I was reading a Telugu newspaper yesterday and I found some comments made by Junior NTR in one of his roadshows. He said Rajasekhara Reddy’s padayatra is to measure how much land he can grab. The statement reflects his immaturity.
I am sure the soul of N T Rama Rao is not at peace with his son Balakrishna and grandson Junior NTR campaigning for Chandrababu Naidu. Did Balakrishna forget that it was Naidu who backstabbed his father-in-law? Did Junior NTR forget how the Nandamuri family treated his mother? These are not the real issues. There are many pressing problems that need immediate attention. Sadly, people like Balakrishna and Junior NTR do not address them and try to divert the attention of the people.
Blood has one colour
Monday, March 23
I would not normally disclose my religion, but I feel uneasy now. I am shocked by the cynicism of Varun Gandhi's election campaign in Pilibhit. I cannot fathom the fact that this young man is a product of the London School of Economics.
The inflammatory speeches of the grandson of the late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru have shocked me. That he wants to toe the Hindu hard line is evident. There are several issues Varun Gandhi could have addressed like the farmers’ plight or the welfare of people.
Are we a step closer to the Taliban? What are we teaching our children? My children ask me sometimes, “Amma, are Muslims our enemies?” I tell them, “No they are not, blood doesn’t come in different colours." I hope they are convinced.
I keep telling my children that when disasters like tsunamis strike, they doesn’t see whom it is devouring. Tsunamis and earthquakes do not see religion when they kill people.Varun Gandhi should set an example to youth. Resorting to such divisive tactics is truly sad.
Are women less corrupt?
Friday, March 20
I remember that Madhu Dandavate, railway minister in the 1970s, once said that he would recruit only women as ticket collectors because women were less corrupt. The statement became controversial because many people said there was no guarantee that women would not be corruption. It’s a debatable point, but what is true is that if you help women develop, all of India’s problems will disappear. If we keep women down and depressed, we will never develop as a nation.
I read somewhere recently that women do 62 per cent of the work in this country. I don’t mean to denigrate men but it is true that women are the real carriers of this nation’s burden. So by improving their lot, we can improve India itself. I think our films can make a difference in this. How? Let’s start by projecting women as individuals with their identities. Not only as mother, sister, wife/mistress and so on. Why can’t a woman be her own person?
Thursday, March 19
When I saw the debated movie Slumdog Millionaire, the thing that hit me was that communalism and slums are somehow connected. The movie show how when a communal riot breaks out the slum dwellers are the most affected.
They become victims because they are the weakest in our society. That’s why I could never get myself to support a communal party like the BJP. Development must come first, all communal issues will be automatically resolved then.
Wednesday, March 18
1) No child should go hungry. 2) No mother should have to beg for food for her child. 3) Get rid of caste discrimination 4) Eradicate poverty, poverty, poverty, poverty, poverty! 5) Take care of farmers and they will take care of you. 6) Every child must be put in school. 7) Pay their families money to send their kids to school if that is what it takes. 8) Crack down on corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption! 9) Empower women. Development will be achieved just by this. 10) Every educated person should do one thing to help society: pay for a poor child’s schooling, donate Rs 100 every year to the government’s relief fund, whatever.11) Get rid of terrorism.
Why YSR, why not?
Monday, March 16
With a sustained focus on the farmers' plight, neglect of agriculture, irrigation, rural employment and industry, Rajasekhara Reddy garu has led the AP Congress back to issues of relevance. The welfare measures being implemented by his government in the past five years and his pro-farmer policies have turned the tide irrevocably in favour of the Congress party. The people of our state are about to make a dramatic statement in support of the Congress party’s policies. The pre-poll surveys are a clear indication of that.
As far as development schemes are concerned, YSR’s focus has always been on farmers. Not that he is ignoring IT but he has always been leader who gave more importance to basic necessities like water and electricity.
Hooliganism is no politics
Monday, March 16
Mother Teresa, Gandhiji, Ambedkar and Jotiba Phule are all respected for the service they rendered to society. Chiranjeevi uses the images of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, but his partymen have done everything that is against those two apostles of peace. It does no credit to their leader. I was shocked by the behavior of PRP supporters last year. They attacked me, my husband and my daughters merely because my husband expressed some innocuous views on Chiranjeevi’s political entry. Does Chiranjeevi believe in democracy at all?
The outbursts of his brother Pawan Kalyan are even more appalling. In one of his speeches, he even made some very distasteful comments against Y S Rajasekhara Reddy garu. I wouldn’t bother to repeat his exact words but cinemalalo oka laga, nija jeevitamlo oka laga undadam hypocrisy kada? What message is Pawan Kalyan sending to young people? Hooliganism is no politics.
Actors are at home in politics
Tuesday, March 13
My friends ask me “Why do actors click in politics?” I think they do because they have a connect with the public. Their movies reach millions of people. People already know something about them. So they have a head start in politics.
I draw inspiration from Jayalalithaa, Nargis Dutt, Shabana Azmi, Hema Malini, all actors before they became politicians. When actors join politics, they may have to don a new set of costumes, read from a different script, and abandon the world of make-believe for the harsh realities of leadership, but that has not deterred actors and actresses across the world from opting for a life in the world of politics.