Balakrishna's comments about AR Rahman have led to a fight between Kollywood and Tollywood fans on social media.

Music composer AR Rahman on the left and actor Nandamuri Balakrishna on the right.Facebook/ AR Rahman, Nandamuri Balakrishna
Flix Controversy Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 12:07

Tollywood actor Nandamuri Balakrishna sparked a controversy with his remarks over composer AR Rahman. In an interview with Telugu news channel TV9, the 61-year-old actor said that he does not know who AR Rahman is and he doesn't care for his achievements. “I don’t know who Rahman is. I don’t care. Once in a decade, he gives a hit and gets an Oscar award,” Balakrishna, who is popularly known as Balayya, stated in the interview. It is to be noted that AR Rahman was one of the music composers for Balakrishna’s 1993 Telugu film Nippu Ravva.

The comment about Rahman was made in the context of a discussion about veteran composer Ilaiyaraaja's music in Balakrishna’s super hit sci-fi film Aditya 369, which released in 1991. Appreciating the music of the film, Balakrishna said that while each music composer has a signature style, the songs from Aditya 369 were different from Ilaiyaraaja’s usual style, crediting the director, lyricist, singers and other artistes for the collaborative effort that resulted in the unique songs. The actor said in the interview that he is now writing and directing a sequel to Aditya 369, which will mark the acting debut of his son Nandamuri Mokshagna. Speaking about Ilaiyaraaja’s work in Aditya 369, Balakrishna drew a comparison between Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman by talking about the latter’s awards and belittling them. And here he commented, “Who is AR Rahman?”

In the same interview, he also stated that he doesn't care for awards like Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, either, since he believes that awards are insignificant and it was not worthy of his late father, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, NT Rama Rao’s achievements. Elaborating further, Balakrishna stated, “(These awards are insignificant). That's why I've said Bharat Ratna is equivalent to NTR’s toenail. The people giving him the award should feel honoured. The honour is not for him. He is so much more than that (award). It's an honour to the one giving it to him. Positions/posts can be adorned by him, he can't be adorned by (mere) positions.”

Balakrishna also went on to take a jibe at Canadian filmmaker James Cameron by comparing his own work ethic with Cameron’s. “I like to wrap up my shootings quickly unlike that Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron, who takes years to complete a film. The way I work, I do more hit films in less time,” the actor stated.

The controversy has snowballed into a fight between Kollywood and Tollywood fans on Twitter, with Kollywood fans tweeting about the achievements of musician AR Rahman and Tollywood fans discussing and celebrating Balakrishna’s films. While Rahman fans started using the hashtag #WhoIsBalakrishna, Balayya fans used #LegendaryNandamuriBalakrishna. After a while, Balayya fans started using the same hashtag #WhoIsBalakrishna to speak about his movies and pointed out that even Tamil actors are fans of Balayya.

Balakrishna recently resumed shooting for his upcoming movie Akhanda in Hyderabad.

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