Wanting to put up a 30-foot flex banner of their favourite actor Mahesh Babu between two electric poles in the Maredubaka area of Mandapet village in West Godavari distcrict, five youth climbed up the poles at around 11.40 pm on Thursday night. But they appear to have wanted to fix the posters as high as they could. In their bid to do so, they accidentally came in contact with high tension wires and got electrocuted.
Naresh (20), Prasad (18) and Durga Prasad (16) died on the spot and the other two are injured but recovering.
Durga Prasad’s aunt Sasi is heartbroken. “He was a die-hard fan of Mahesh Babu and he used to watch first day first shows of all his movies.”
It is unclear why the five youth wanted to put up that poster on Thursday, but it coincided with the trailer release of Mahesh Babu’s upcoming film Brahmotsavam.
“This is a big shock for us. We are feeling really helpless as we don't have any financial support from anyone now,” Sasi said.
Durga Prasad's mother mourning- Picture by Ee Nadu
The only son of Sasi’s sister, Durga Prasad was not just the only breadwinner for the family, but also a huge emotional support to his mother. Sasi said that Durga Prasad’s father did not earn; he drank a lot and often beat his mother. “He would support his mother (when she was beaten),” Sasi said, appearing uncertain of what the future held.
Prasad’s family too, was poor. Veramallu Sattibabu, his uncle told The News Minute that the young man’s adulation for Mahesh Babu had always worried the family.
“We were always worried about his madness for the actor but today our fears proved to be justified. Youngsters should not be so influenced by film stars and instead of wasting their time running behind them they should devote their time for better and fruitful things,” Sattibabu said.
There is something else that bothers Sasi. A banner of size Durga Prasad and the others were trying to put, would cost around Rs 5,000. She doesn’t know how they got the money, but it is possible that all of them pooled together whatever money they had to order that banner.
While such adulation may appear to be an impractical thing, it is not uncommon. According to research published by the British Journal of Psychology, a third of the 600 people surveyed felt extreme adulation for famous people.
Riddhish K Maru, psychiatrist and relationship counsellor, says, “People have always been fascinated by the lives of famous people. The increase in the number of entertainment outlets and rise in the use of the internet may explain the rise in hero-worship in India.”
Such tragedies are not uncommon in the Telugu states. In a similar incident, three youngsters had died in the year 2013.
From standing for hours in front of actors’ houses to crowding in front of theatres under the scorching sun for first-day-first-show tickets, fans will do almost anything to catch a glimpse of the object of their worship. Seeing someone they have admired in the darkness of a cinema hall is different from seeing them in person.
In fact, the phenomenon is not limited to the Tollywood, but is prevalent across south India in varying degrees. In several places in south India, fans have built temples dedicated to celebrities and actors like Rajnikanth and Khushboo.
But now that the curtains have closed on the already precarious lives these young men led, their families find themselves on even more shakier ground.
Both Prasad and Durga Prasad’s families are hoping for help from any quarter.
“We are very unfortunate to lose our 18-year-old son in this unexpected incident. We are really shocked with our fate. His dad was not well and he was the only bread winner from this family but when our family needed his support, he died. It is a big loss to our family. We are hoping for help either from the government or from Mahesh Babu,” Sattibabu said.