When the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur honoured Chiranjeevi with the ‘Indian Film Personality of the Year’ Award at the 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), many people were surprised. Later, as several prominent personalities, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, congratulated the Megastar on Twitter, the subject became the hottest topic of discussion, particularly the timing of the award.
A few days ago, the Prime Minister had met Chiranjeevi’s younger brother, actor-politician Pawan Kalyan (chief of the Jana Sena Party) in Vizag. That had sparked rumours that BJP was tying up with the Jana Sena in the lead-up to the 2024 elections in Andhra. The award for Chiru now has added fuel to the speculation that the BJP is trying to woo the ‘Mega brothers’ to get a firm footing in Andhra Pradesh.
It all started with Modi’s invitation to Chiranjeevi for the unveiling of a 30-ft bronze statue of legendary freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju in Bhimavaram (AP), in July this year. Analysts say that after trying to woo stars like Jr NTR and Prabhas to gain ‘star power’ in Telangana, the BJP has now turned its focus on the other Telugu-speaking state, for a similar advantage.
Senior political analyst Bandaru Srinivas Rao agrees that the BJP is trying to woo the mega brothers. He sees it as part of the long-term strategy of the party to win the 2029 elections too. “After BJP bid goodbye to TDP, they need stars to attract the masses at the regional level. Since Chiru and Pawan have the ability to influence people, I think the BJP is trying to attract them,” says Srinivas, adding that Modi’s private talk with Pawan was an indication of things to come.
Expressing surprise over the ‘personality of the year’ award, Srinivas says, “Chiranjeevi didn’t do anything great this year; in fact, it’s been a bad year for him, so I am a bit puzzled about that.”
There are other points of view too. “It’s just a film award and why can’t it be seen as an appreciation for Chiranjeevi garu’s body of work? People are zooming in between the lines a little too much. Chiru garu has clearly stated his stand on politics – that he won’t come back. So why this fuss?” asks a filmmaker who helmed one of Chiranjeevi‘s earlier films.
Pawan Kalyan’s tweet praising Modi’s work hours after they met last week is proof enough that he’s endorsing BJP. Now the question is, will Chiru do the same? The Megastar has insisted time and again that politics isn’t his cup of tea.
But at a time when BJP is getting close to Pawan, would Chiru like to do his bit to see his brother at the top? In fact, a couple of days ago, at a college alumni meet, Chiru had said that soon Pawan Kalyan would be seen at the highest level (read Chief Minister).
It’ll be interesting to see Chiru’s approach to various ‘political enticements’ as the situation progresses.