The coastal district of Srikakulam has suffered a huge loss after the onslaught of cyclone Titli, with many villages completely destroyed. It will take time for the people of that particular region to recover and rebuild their homes and lives. Interestingly, our film stars, who responded immediately and donated huge amounts to the Kerala and Chennai flood victims, woke up very late to help their own in Srikakulam. After being trolled on social media, many of these stars then responded and have announced their donations to help Srikakulam.
Telugu stars always respond to issues in other states, but when it comes to their own state, they seem scared to get involved even in social causes. A few responded to the Jalli Kattu issue in Tamil Nadu, but they were silent when the issue about special status for AP was being discussed, or the Swachh Bharat mission or any other social concern like honour killings. But when it comes to wishing the CM’s son and minister K.T. Rama Rao for his birthday, they are all very prompt.
Onscreen, they play larger than life characters and acquire a huge fan following. In real life, however, these same stars fail to even urge their fans to make the right choices. In comparison, other film industries like the Tamil and Hindi ones, have many stars who are vocal about important issues.
Though none of the superstars or A-listers stick their neck out, few actors like Nikhil, Sundeep Kishan, Sai Dharam Tej, Manchu Manoj and Sampoornesh Babu, have voiced their views on granting AP special status. Nikhil tweeted about the special status issue and has also talked about the petrol hike on social media. He even visited Srikakulam to help the cyclone victims there. “I personally feel I have to express my views to create awareness, irrespective of political parties and irrespective of any government,” he says. He adds that he only realised the extent of the damage after AP CM Chandrababu Naidu posted a picture of the cyclone hit area. “Then I realised that it is a huge loss and I wanted to donate some money. I later decided to meet the people there personally. When I went there, people hugged me and appreciated my coming to see them. I became emotional after seeing the situation,” recalls Nikhil. Generally, actors don’t talk about political parties or politicians, even when their films are releasing. Mahesh Babu, who played a chief minister in the political thriller Bharat Ane Nenu, was very diplomatic during his media interactions when he was asked questions pertaining to politics. Vijay Deverakonda, however, spoke about politicians before the release of his film NOTA. “I like Chandrababu Naidu because he is the person who developed the city of Hyderabad and created the software boom. I also like K.T. Rama Rao for his work and the way he helps through Twitter and responds to many causes,” says Deverakonda. The actor was the first person to offer financial aid of Rs 5 lakhs after the Kerala floods and did the same again for Srikakulam. Later, many other stars like Allu Arjun, Jr NTR, Kalyan Ram, Prabhas and Balakrishna donated money to the CM relief fund. Even Ram Charan announced that he wants to adopt a village and his team would decide on one soon. “It is the people who watch our films and encourage us. The next time we go for a film promotion, they will definitely ask us where were we when the natural calamity happened in that area. So I feel it is our responsibility to respond when something happens,” says Nikhil.
Better late than never
Few actors, however, do tweet about controversial issues like the recent honour killings. Though rather late, Ram Charan had expressed his anger at the recent honour killing that shook the state. “Extremely disgusted with the so called ‘honour killing’. Where is the honour in taking a life? Where are we going as a society? Deepest condolences to Amrutha Varshini and the rest of Pranay’s family. May his soul rest in peace!,” the actor tweeted. Another actor Ram Pothineni too reacted on Twitter about the honour killing. He tweeted that everyone needed to learn to live like humans for the universe to be filled with love and peace. But what about others? Most actors fear negative reactions to their opinions. They are also concerned about their words being taken out of context. They do not want to be seen as for or against any political party as it may hurt their films.
Surprised at their attitude
Actor Jeevitha says, “When Kerala was affected by the floods, our stars were quick to respond and eager to announce their help. I was surprised that when the same happened in our state, their response was slow. I don’t understand the present generation of actors as they are confined to themselves and do not come out in unity. If you look at earlier times, many big stars like NTR and ANR mobilised the others in the film industry to show their unity and help people. But the present generation is not keen to respond to any issue or cause.” She and her husband are now travelling to Vijayawada to meet the AP CM to handover a cheque of Rs 10 lakhs, and then they will be visiting the cyclone affected area.