A small play irks Jagan Govt? True story of electoral politics throughChintamani ban
Since a week, playwrights and writers of Telugu literature along with readers have been blasting the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy-led government over the bank on a 100-year-old pay. A famous play known as Chintamani, written by Kallakuri Narayana Rao, hogged the limelight with the state government specifically banning its staging in the state, from here on.
Though many youngsters might not be aware of the play which had enthralled the audience in yesteryears, the ban orders had raised the interest as to what had triggered the extreme step by the authorities.
Story behind the ban
What is the story behind the ban? And, why single out one play? What’s the government’s problem with it? It is learnt that last year when the centenary celebrations of Chintamani were held in West Godavari district, the representatives of AP Arya Vysya Sangham in the state had raised objection to staging the play citing that it had hurt their sentiments and submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy following which he had issued orders to the officials concerned to do the needful.
The Arya Vysya community members also threatened to launch an agitation if the play was staged in the name of centenary celebrations.
One of the popular characters in the play, Subbisetty, also belonging to the Arya Vysya community and hailing from a reputed family, spends all his wealth getting attracted to a woman outside his family and his life gets ruined. The character which holds prominence in the comedy track of the drama was aimed at preaching a moral that men should not get attracted to women outside their families.
At the same time, the play also spreads another moral on the necessity to abolish the ‘dasi’ system. Meanwhile, there is another version that the police have not been given permission for staging the play citing law and order problems.
Obscenity to woo audience?
There is information that some artists were taking liberty and manipulating the dialogues to add their own versions, to provoke criticism and violence in the rural areas. The misinterpretation of dialogues and manipulation to convey voyeurism and incorporate vulgar language along with obscene songs have landed the play in a controversy, lamented by a few drama lovers.
However, the government did not take any action when the representatives of the community submitted a memorandum but a couple of days ago, the cultural department had issued orders banning the play. On probing the reason behind the sudden move, it was found that Jagan government had issued the ban orders as part of damage control following the protest by the Arya Vysya community.
No Freedom of Expression?
Going by this, it is clear that Jagan and his party are playing a community-appeasing game which not only gives them a strong Arya Vysya votebank but also is trying to show other opponents how electoral politics works. On the other hand, drama lovers and literature connoisseurs are about why writers cannot have the freedom of expression and artistic freedom, when movies can? Looks like the Jagan government’s interference in every industry and department is not going to stop any soon!
TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.