A pre-release event of Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Brahmastra in Hyderabad was at the centre of controversy on Friday after it was cancelled at the last minute. Though the Telangana Police claimed the event organisers did not have permission to hold the event, many pointed out that Tollywood film star Junior NTR was scheduled to attend the event and the cancellation might have something to do with his meeting with Union Minister Amit Shah last month.
Junior NTR is the grandson of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao, and his father N Harikrishna was a TDP Rajya Sabha MP. The meeting with Shah was held as Shah was reportedly impressed with the actor’s movie RRR. Though NTR Junior does not star in Brahmastra, he is involved in its promotion. RRR director SS Rajamouli is also promoting the movie. The BJP recently nominated Rajamouli’s father KV Vijayendra Prasad, a screenwriter, to the Rajya Sabha.
The meeting between Junior NTR and Shah took place in a hotel in the city on August 21, right after Shah’s address at Munugode in Nalgonda district. At the time, Telangana BJP leaders had said the meeting was arranged because he was “a gem of Telugu cinema,” and that Shah “expressed his desire to meet him”.
The BJP is looking to make inroads in Telangana by winning the high-stakes Munugode bypoll that is expected to be held later this year. The TRS has been going all out against the BJP, with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, calling for a “BJP-mukt” Bharat during a meeting with his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar in Patna earlier this week.
The event on Friday was to take place at Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad. A police official said “police personnel were busy providing security for the ongoing Ganesh Chaturthi festival” and “they could not deploy additional personnel for the security and safety of the movie pre-release event”. Sources in the Telugu film industry said “this may result in friction between the Telangana Government and the industry”, which is dominated by actors from Andhra Pradesh.
A Ramoji Film City official said stage artists had been rehearsing for several days for the event and “hundreds of fans gathered outside were disappointed when the show was cancelled”. A member of Junior NTR’s team confirmed that the event would now be held at a luxury hotel or resort over the weekend.
The cast of Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva includes Amitabh Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia, Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, and Telugu film star A Nagarjuna, among others.