Hyderabad: A press meet held by Movie Artistes Association (MAA), a statutory body that handles affairs related to all actors and technicians associated with Tollywood, on Thursday, turned into one of the heated arguments and a walkout! However, what was supposed to be a simple launch of the annual diary of the association, turned into a dramatic affair.

Megastar Chiranjeevi, who was the chief guest at the event, took it as an opportunity to talk about the need for unity between members of the association. While he spoke about the importance of generating corpus funds for the association, he also raised the importance of unity. He talked about how the association members must work hand-in-hand and refrain from fights and conflicts. The actor also indicated that they put forth a face of togetherness in front of the media and resolve issues “within ourselves”.

As a part of his intended motivating speech, Chiranjeevi said, “If there are problems, since they are happening in between family (association members) let us adjust. If there are good things about MAA, let’s say it out loud through the mic, and if there is something negative, let’s say it in the ear. Summon the senior members of the industry if there are problems to address and everyone will be there.”

Citing an example of how he fights with his wife Surekha, he said, “Everyone calls us an ideal couple. However, do you know that we fight every day? Small things happen in a family, and we shouldn’t let them out.”

However, it looks like the good intention of the actor didn’t go down well with actor Rajasekhar, the executive Vice President of MAA. Snatching the mic from senior screenwriter Paruchuri Gopala Krishna, Rajasekhar started agitated ramblings about how “things should be discussed instead of keeping them quiet”. Dramatically touching the feet of everyone on stage as he began to speak, Rajasekhar shared that he hadn’t taken up any film projects since he signed on his role with MAA. Criticising Chiranjeevi, he added that there was no unity amidst the members of the association and asked why things had to be pushed under the rug.

“In our films, we are the heroes who speak out against issues. Why should we keep quiet in real life then? The problems and issues in MAA are affecting my personal life and have been causing disturbances in my family life. I met with a car accident recently due to the same tensions,” he said, as he stormed out of the event, while a miffed Chiranjeevi started speaking.

Rajasekhar’s outburst left everyone in a shock. Other members on the stage — Jayasudha, Krishnam Raju, Mohan Babu and T Subbarami Reddy seemed quite in a state of shock. Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi expressed a rare show of anger in a public space and said, “Disciplinary action should be taken against such behaviour.”

In an exciting update, Jeevitha Rajasekhar, wife of Rajasekhar and General Secretary of MAA, apologised for her husband’s behaviour and shared that they were always in support of Chiranjeevi and that there is no bad intention behind his public ramblings. “He is a childlike person and doesn’t think before he speaks. One shouldn’t read much into this,” she said.

A little background for the uninitiated

Ever since MAA elections in 2019, there has been tension between members of the association. Things took a turn when the association divided into two groups over running the affairs in MAA.

There have been several face-offs too in the meanwhile with a significant turning point happening in October when Rajashekar and Jeevitha called for an informal meeting of MAA executive committee members without keeping President Naresh in the loop. A resignation was demanded from Naresh who was accused of mismanaging and misappropriating funds and for being a one-person committee who didn’t consult other members before making decisions.

Pranita Jonnalagedda

A features journalist who started writing because of her love for newspapers, Pranita Jonnalagedda is now exploring the digital space where she writes extensively on Telugu cinema. After fulfilling a childhood dream of working in the newspapers with brief stints in The Times of India and The Deccan Chronicle, Pranita is now a freelancing journalist who has contributed to several leading news portals like Film Companion, The News Minute, DNA, Telugu 360 and The Hans India among several others. Exploring her joint love for films and writing, she covers cinema in a holistic style and covers all the related trends, news, and fashion developments. An alumnus of Osmania University College of Arts and Social Sciences from where she pursued her Post Graduation in Mass Communication and Journalism, she is travel blogging when she isn't writing.

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