After a prolonged war of words, Pawan Kalyan and Minister Perni Nani ended up trolling each other online, leading people to lament the quality of political debate in the state.

Collage of Andhra Minister Perni Nani and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan File Photo
news Controversy Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 15:03

The ongoing bitter debate over the proposed online movie ticket portal to be run by the Andhra Pradesh government hit a new low on Monday, September 27, as actor-politician and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan, and state Minister for Information and Public Relations Perni Nani, referred to each other as dogs through implicit and explicit tweets. The prolonged public dispute involving a lot of mudslinging began with Pawan Kalyan’s speech at a pre-release event for the movie Republic — starring his nephew Sai Dharam Tej — earlier on Saturday. In his speech, Pawan Kalyan referred to YSRCP leaders and Minister Perni Nani as “worthless”, using derogatory language. In a rebuttal on Sunday, the minister himself also resorted to using similar language for Pawna Kalyan, while heaping many other insults, and claiming that Pawan Kalyan’s films have not done well enough commercially for the government to purportedly prey on their revenue.  

Hours after the minister’s response, Pawan Kalyan wrote a tweet that said that it was normal for “YCP dogs” to “whine”, like other creatures like bees, peacocks and elephants that make their own noise. 

Soon after that, he tweeted a link to the song “Who Let The Dogs Out”, calling it one of his favourite songs, stepping the trolling up a notch. 

In about an hour came Minister Perni Nani’s response. He tweeted a hastily edited video with visuals that showed Pawan Kalyan appearing to bow in front of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. This was juxtaposed with visuals from the movie Balu, where the villain is seen petting a dog with one hand and Pawan Kalyan, who works under him in the film, with the other hand. The song ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ plays in the background. 

The exchange has triggered a barrage of insulting responses from supporters of both sides, referring to party leaders as dogs, while a few users deplored the poor quality of discourse and trolling between an elected representative and a popular political leader. 

The Andhra Pradesh government is developing a portal for online booking of movie tickets for single screen and multiplex theatres. The portal will be managed by the AP State Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation. The government has said that the decision was taken based on suggestions from the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce and other bodies representing the Telugu film industry. The decision was reportedly taken as CM Jagan and officials felt that the GST collected from films has been low compared to the business actually done by movies, with theatre collections being underreported. The government, therefore, decided to take over ticket sales to bring in transparency. Minister Perni Nani said that each day’s collections will be deposited with the theatre management on the very next day.

Earlier on Saturday, in a speech that went on for about an hour, Pawan Kalyan, whose Jana Sena Party (in alliance with the BJP) is one of the main opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh, heavily lashed out at the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. He alleged that the YSRCP government was trying to control ticket sales and prices with ulterior motives, including targeting Pawan Kalyan in an attempt to politically overpower him. 

Read: Jagan govt plans online cinema ticket portal, film industry taken by surprise

Insisting that the government adopt a laissez-faire approach towards the film industry, he said, “YSRCP leaders think that if they can create obstacles from Pawan Kalyan and the Telugu film industry, they will fall at their feet.” Taking several digs at Chief Minister Jagan and using derogatory words to address Minister Perni Nani, he said the YSRCP government was misusing its power and hindering wealth creation. Noting the weak financial situation of Andhra Pradesh, he also alleged that the YSRCP government wished to show ticket revenues to banks in order to obtain more loans. 

In his counter-argument, Minister Perni Nani said that contrary to Pawan Kalyan’s claims that theatres in Andhra Pradesh were shut, it had more theatres currently screening films than Telangana. He claimed that the producer’s share from recent films released in theatres including Love Story and Vakeel Saab has been higher in Andhra Pradesh than Telangana. He said that the revenue from Pawan Kalyans’ films was too paltry an amount to obtain loans to run the state with. While Pawan Kalyan had earlier made a deprecatory comment that Jagan Mohan Reddy and other YSRCP leaders from the Reddy community should sort out the issue with producer ‘Dil’ Raju as he belongs to the Reddy community too, Perni Nani also repeatedly used derogatory words to refer to Pawan Kalyan while noting that the two of them were from the same Kapu community.