Speaking at an event earlier this week, Pawan Kalyan dubbed the YSRCP government's ministers as “useless” and “idiots".

The actor-politician found fault with the Andhra government’s decision to regulate ticket prices
news Controversy Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 08:37

Equating Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, actor-politician Pawan Kalyan has kicked up a political storm in Andhra Pradesh by alleging that the YSRCP government has banned screening of Telugu films in the state in order to force the industry to “cower before their feet.” The latest update in this ongoing bitter episode is that actor Posani Murali Krishna was attacked by self-proclaimed fans of Pawan Kalyan on Tuesday evening at the Press Club in Somajiguda, Hyderabad. 

On September 25, speaking at the pre-release event of Republic, a political drama — starring his nephew Sai Dharam Tej, Aishwarya Rajesh, Ramya Krishnan and Jagapathi Babu — Pawan dubbed the YSRCP government ministers “useless” and “idiots.” The Jana Sena Party chief alleged that the government has been hostile to the film industry solely because they want to target him. “If you want to ban films, ban my films, why are you stopping the films of others?” he thundered, amidst cheers and applause from his fans. Pawan Kalyan was referring to the controversy around his film Vakeel Saab. The government during its release in April, had cancelled morning ‘benefit’ shows of the film, which Jana Sena’s ally, the BJP, claimed was done with a “political motive.”

The actor-politician found fault with the Andhra government’s decision to regulate ticket prices and further criticised the move to introduce a government portal for the online sale of cinema tickets. He questioned why cinema producers owing private companies should be regulated by the government. He alleged that this decision was taken as there is no money left with the government.  

These remarks evoked an equally similar response from YSRCP ministers. Water Resources Minister Anil Kumar Yadav, wondering why they would go after the Tollywood industry just to target Pawan Kalyan asked, “Who exactly is he?” Pointing out the flaw in Pawan’s allegation about the government exhausting its treasury, he said, “If the state exchequer doesn’t have money, would they increase the ticket rate or decrease it?” 

Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani), the Minister for Information and Public Relations, who also belongs to the same caste as Pawan Kalyan — Kapu — referred to him as a “dog” and a “fool” who has been making absurd allegations without having any knowledge over the issue. Pawan Kalyan and Nani resorted to online attacks as well. 

What is the ticket pricing issue? 

After the YSRCP came to power in 2019, the government has cancelled special ‘benefit’ shows. Usually, in the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the practice was that the ticket rates would be increased for the first few days of big hero films, to encash on the frenzy. The tickets would be sold as high as Rs 1,000. However, citing the AP Cinematograph Act, which allows only four shows per day starting 11 am, the government had banned the practice.

Further, on April 8 this year, the Andhra Pradesh government introduced a Government Order (GO), fixing a cap on the ticket rates. The rates were fixed based on the locality and the amenities provided. The maximum price was fixed at Rs 250 for a premium ticket in a multiplex, with the fare coming under a municipal corporation, while the minimum price was fixed at Rs 5 for an economy seat in a Gram Panchayat. The decision was welcomed by Eluru Surendra Reddy, the Chairman of Telugu Film Chamber’s Producers Sector who said that the decision would help both the audience and also low-budget films.  

However, the film exhibitors had opposed the decision saying that they would not reopen the theatres unless the ticket prices are increased to mitigate the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The theatres were reopened in the state with 50% occupancy from July 31.

Transparency in tickets sale

Rubbishing the allegation made by Pawan Kalyan, minister Anil Kumar Yadav said that the online portal by the government for sale of tickets online was done to bring transparency. 

Before the allegations made by Pawan Kalyan, producers Dil Raju, C Kalyan and G Adi Seshagiri Rao had a meeting with minister Perni Nani on September 20, and gave their consensus to set up the portal. The minister had earlier said that this decision had been under consideration since 2000. 

While actors Nani and Kartikeya backed Pawan Kalyan and asked the government to reconsider their decision, the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) distanced itself from the controversy. A day after Pawan Kalyan’s allegations, president of TFCC Narayandas Kishandas Narang in an official communication stated, “Various individuals have expressed their views, opinions and anguish on different platforms. These are not the voices of the industry as a whole.” 

In this regard, producers Sunil Narang, Dil Raju, DVV Daanayya among others called upon minister Perni Nani on Wednesday in Machilipatnam.