Controversy erupted in the Telugu film industry after actor Nandamuri Balakrishna told the media that he was not invited for the recent meeting of the Tollywood fraternity with the Telangana government or other meetings happening in the industry.
There were several Tollywood biggies, including actors, producers and directors, who attended the meeting at Pragathi Bhavan.
In one instance at NTR Ghat, Balakrishna speaking to the media, said, "I was not aware of the meeting, I heard there are some meetings going on only through the news in papers and in TV channels. There would be clarity on shootings only if the government issues a proper Government Order. The shootings might start in a phased manner in the month of June, probably in the second week."
However, in another instance, Balakrishna told the media that he was not invited for the meeting at actor Chiranjeevi's house and that he would have gone if someone had invited him. He also alleged that the meeting had been about the real estate business.
"Did they call me? No. What were they doing? They were doing real estate business and discussing land sale with Srinivas Yadav!? Nobody called me to the meeting," he said, adding a cussword for good measure.
Srinivas Yadav is the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Cinematography.
Soon after this, actor Naga Babu, who is the brother of actors Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan, released a video countering Balakrishna's comments on his YouTube channel.
"When the idea of restarting shooting came up, some of the people who were affected by the lockdown, got together and conducted a meeting," he stated. "I am not commenting on whether it's right or wrong not to invite Balakrishna. Balakrishna should have asked the person who organised this meeting directly. But the way he commented, stating that they were selling land, doing real estate business and then ending whatever he said with a cussword, is not fair. As an industry person, I was affected by this statement. It should be immediately withdrawn and it's not correct to speak whatever comes to one's mouth. There are several people who are ready to give it back. So, one should control their mouth while speaking."
Naga Babu also said that Balakrishna had insulted the industry and the Telangana government by insinuating that they were discussing real estate during the meeting. He said that the actor should apologise to both.
Naga Babu further took a political dig at Balakrishna. Referring to the comment on real estate, he said, "Go to Andhra Pradesh. You will understand who has done real estate business and destroyed the state. It's the Telugu Desam Party (founded by Balakrishna's father NTR, of which he's a part) which has done real estate business and destroyed the state. It's the TDP which has indulged in real estate looting. Nobody will spare you for your words here. You're not the king of the industry, you're just one part of it. You should learn to control your words."
Balakrishna is an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Andhra Pradesh from the Hindupur constituency. Naga Babu belongs to Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena party.
Producer C Kalyan, who was at the meeting, has also reacted to Balakrihsna's comments.
"There is no group or anything, everybody is the same in the industry. Representatives from all sides were there -- producers, directors and actors. We are just trying to get the shootings to restart as quickly as possible with the help of government. Until recently, Dasari Narayana used to initiate such things. Now, we asked Chiranjeevi to come and talk, as the weight he carries would help."
The producer added that when TDP had been in power, they had asked Balakrishna for help several times.
The Telangana government recently gave the green signal for shooting to resume after it met with representatives from the film industry.