Cashing in on election fever
Filmmakers are often in need of inspiration and most of the time, the best inspiration comes from those around us. So it’s no surprise when some filmmakers turn to our politicians for their creative fodder. With the general elections around the corner, once again the focus is on our political landscape. In a country where cinema and politics are inseparable, we turn the spotlight on films (biopics) that are being made on influential political personalities.
Political films seem to be the flavour of the season across Indian film industries. While Bollywood is churning out biopics on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bal Thackeray, closer home, films on political personalities like NTR, YSR, Chandrababu Naidu, etc., are on the anvil.
Director Mahi V. Raghav has taken on the task of making the biopic on Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Titled Yatra, the political drama features Malayalam actor Mammootty in the role of the late CM.
But the director says the timing is only a coincidence, “We are not trying to cash in on the political flavor of the season,” adding, “I had registered the title Yatra under my banner in 2012. However, with the recent success of Anando Brahma, I got recognition as a filmmaker and then decided to roll out the film,” he explains.
Another interesting biopic to watch out for is NTR, starring Nandamuri Balakrishna. The biopic chronicles the late legendary actor and former AP Chief Minister’s meteoric rise in acting and his successful political journey. But will the actor’s political inclinations affect the filmmaking process?
“Balayya might be part of the TDP outfit but the party doesn’t have a say in creative matters,” clarifies Teja, adding, “And NTR is a personality on whom you can make a biopic at any time.”
While most of the films focus on previous political figures, our current leaders aren’t being ignored either. It turns out Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao too will be a subject. A biopic revolving around him is still in the discussion stage. Meanwhile, Chandrodayam, directed by Pasupuleti Venkata Ramana, a biopic on AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, is nearing completion.
The most curious part is all these films are releasing in January, 2019, just a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha election, making it seems as though the films are being backed by respective political parties. However, the filmmakers are quick to contradict this assumption.
“No political party (read YSR Congress) is backing it. Moreover, the film will focus especially on the period from 1999-2004, when YSR undertook his famous Padayatra,” shares Mahi.
Meanwhile, Director Teja says, “We planned for a January release because Balayya is also committed to another film, which starts around the same time.”
However, releasing a film at this sensitive time definitely has certain implications. A censor board official says if these films release when the code of conduct is in place then the content needs to go under the scissors. “During the election code of conduct, dialogues with reference to hate speeches, endorsements, or promises about new projects that may sway a voter, etc., will be muted,” he says.