Hyderabad: A Telugu movie titled ‘Kamma Rajyam lo Kadapa Reddlu’ (Sons of Kadapa in a Kamma kingdom), on contemporary Andhra Pradesh politics featuring characters resembling chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, has created a political storm in the state.
The movie’s title itself has run into controversy, as it aims to reflect the politically dominant Kamma and Reddy communities (castes) in the state (which are believed to occupy about 15% of AP’s total population. The movie, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, was scheduled to release on 29 November but has been since postponed due a petition filed at the Telangana High Court to change the title.
Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, advisor to the government of AP and senior YSRCP leader, last week wrote to the Regional Board of Film Certification in Hyderabad to get the title of the movie changed, as “it has caste-based overtones and civil society with social responsibility cannot accept such a title that has a direct reference to two castes".
Since the controversy erupted, director Ram Gopal Varma, who also made a movie in TDP founder N. Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), since then has said that he is willing to change the name of the movie to 'Amma Rajyam lo Kadapa Reddlu’ (Sons of Kadapa in the mother’s kingdom). However, the matter is yet to be decided by the Central Board of Film Certification’s Hyderabad office, which has to issue a certificate.
“While it is true that the Kamma and Reddy communities are always at odds with each other, it is being made to sound as if Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh are the only two representatives of the Kamma community. The movie also makes a reference to Lokesh with the name ‘pappu’, which his political opponents use to make fun of him," said a senior TDP leader who did not want to be quoted.
Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy in his letter also said that the original title of the movie “is not acceptable and it should be changed in better interest of the society". While the movie’s fate hangs in the balance, it is accepted and also believed by political analysts that both the Reddy and Kamma communities, though not high in population, dominate the state’s politics.
In the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh (until Telangana was bifurcated from it in 2014), apart from NTR and Naidu, some of the other chief ministers were Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (Jagan’s father), Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, Kiran Kumar Reddy and Marri Chenna Reddy. Only a handful of others like T. Anjaiah did not belong to either of the communities.
“The title talks about the two dominant castes who have ruled the state for 58 years after independence. Even after AP was formed, both the chief ministers have also been from the Kamma and Reddy communities. Both have been involved in a conflict from the 1950s itself, in a power struggle and it is still continuing," said Prof. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.