Casting couch has created turmoil in the Tollywood. The issue is taking turns in an unprecedented way. Earlier, it was limited to cinema only. Later on, it led to war of words between Tollywood actress Sri Reddy and Hero Pawan Kalyan, who is also the chief of recently formed Janasena Political Party. The issue further initiated war between Pawan and the media, which in turn also led to legal battle.
The controversy led to a vertical split among Tollywood bigwigs over ban on news channels. The top actors of Tollywood — except Pawan Kalyan, who has become the centrepoint of the issue and Balakrishna — held a meeting in Annapurna Studios and discussed recent developments in the industry. It is learnt that a section of the attendees pushed a proposal for a blanket ban of all movie related contents to the three news channels, which are facing the ire for targeting the film industry.
Actress Sri Reddy, who came to limelight when she stripped in public to expose the casting couch culture, a euphemism, for sexual harassment in Tollywood, has later shifted her focus on Pawan Kalyan. Referring the Pawan Kalyan as Anna ( Brother), she earnestly requested him to question the people at the helm of the industry on her behalf. He in turn advised her to go to the police. Infuriated by this, she slapped herself with shoes in public reportedly,in gesture of regret for calling him brother. She even went on TV live, abusing him and his mother (later she had sent out an apologetic note through her Twitter page).
Her action stirred the hornet’s nest in the mega star family, which includes Pawan and his brother and former minister Chiranjeevi. Claiming he was deeply hurt by Sri Reddy’s abuse involving his mother, Pawan alleged that a smear campaign against him was being orchestrated by a caste lobby, which owns media. However, the media in both the Telugu states, controlled by Kamma community.
Subsequently, Pawan launched a Twitter war against a few leading vernacular TV channels owned by influential businessmen in Kamma community and he even trained guns at Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for allegedly ordering the campaign. He called on the people to boycott channels, who are in nexus with the
ruling TDP in AP and opposition in Telangana. The rift between Kammas and Kapus widened with Pawan’s personal attack on AP Chief Minister Chandrababu and his son Nara Lokesh, who also holds IT and Panchatraj portfolio in AP cabinet, when he levelled serious corruption charges against them. The unholy alliance between politics and film industry and media houses with a caste dominance is not new to Telugu states. The Sri Reddy’s episode has just lowered it to another level.
Tweets and legal notices
As response to the tweets by Pawan Kalyan, managements of two media houses issued legal notices to Pawan, saying that the Janasena Party president is making baseless allegations against them. Pawan’s statements are instigating his fans to attack media, they alleged.
Earlier, Pawan made controversial comments through his twitter account. He wrote, “If I cannot defend the honour of my mother, I better die”. After the strip protest by Sri Reddy, following which she used an abusive word against Pawan, these clippings were repeatedly telecast by some channels, followers of Pawan alleged. Subsequently, Pawan declared an open war against them. He also called for boycott of TV9, ABN Andhra Jyothy and TV5 who, he alleged were making business out of nudity and profanity. Later, he stated that “tweets are personal” and they will never have legal sanctity. What would be the next turn in the controversial casting couch issue is yet to be seen.