Recently, talking to Ananda Vikatan, a Tamil Magazine, megastar Chiranjeevi put the entire blame on the money power of the opponent for his (2009) and his brother Pawan Kalyan’s (2019) defeat in elections.

And with equal vehemence, Chiru asked Tamil superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan not to venture into politics.

This clearly makes apparent his political wisdom or lack of it. Politics, after all, is a high-stakes game based on deception. The media which reported Anandavikatan interview did not say if the advice applies to his brother and Janasena leader Pawan Kalyan as well, who is caught up in catch 22 situation where he can neither move forward nor remain where he is nor go back.

This is the problem with all movie stars who entered politics after NTR. NTR was the last thespian to create powerful magic both at the box office and the ballot box, with equal ease. Because his persona transcended reel life penetrated into real life, it developed a special bond with all moviegoers. What kind of bond was this?

Recently I watched ‘Mahanati’. On that day, to my surprise, the movie hall was full of elderly people. While walking out of the hall with a heavy heart, I asked an elderly woman, ‘how was the movie?’. For a few seconds, she was not able to answer. Finally, with a voice choked with emotion she replied that the move was excellent.

This audience’s bonding with Savitri has been surviving for five-six decades. This type of bonding which goes beyond fans’ association cannot be seen around now.

It was this social capital that helped NTR win the election and create history.

It is not possible for any of the contemporary actors whatsoever his box-office collection is to regenerate that social capital. Here lies the reason for the miserable failure of all South India stars, including Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan, at the hustings.
Its true comparisons are odious. However, sometimes, they help us understand things well. The reasons for the poor performance of Pawan Kalyan’s, for that matter Chiranjeevi’s also, lie not in the opponent’s money power but in their inability to offer something new to the people.

Pawan and Chiranjeevi were under the misconception that their massive fan following would catapult them to political stardom.
Though in 2009, Chiranjeevi offered a new slogan of social justice, a novelty then, could not digest its rejection by the people. So he chose lateral entry into corridors of power by merging the party with Congress.
Then, Pawan Kalyan, who produced more heat than the light, could not offer anything new through his Janasena. His entry into politics was too theatrical.

He made common cause with BJP and TDP which undermined his chances of emerging as a third alternative in Andhra Politics.
In the run-up to the 2019 election, instead of reinventing himself, he employed the language of TDP and got ended up being dubbed as the B team of Chandrababu Naidu.

This way he lost the battle before he fought. Predictably, his party won just one seat in Assembly out of 175, and Pawan himself tasted defeat at both Gajuwaka and Bhimavaram Assembly constituencies. Now he has to wait for five years for the next election- a painful delay for a man who lost the election.

Now, in spite of a political action plan he released last week, there has been talking that Pawan is mulling going back to movies.
Maybe he is influenced by the enormous success of his brother Chirajeevi’s Syeraa. Some time back media reported that Pawan wants to don the role of a producer and was toying with the idea of making a movie with nephew Ramacharan.

Now the buzz is that he is planning to do a movie with Krish. It is said the script is being discussed.

His political future depends on what difference he will offer to the public. Mere agitations against corruption or misrule do not take smaller parties like Janasena anywhere. They ultimately help strengthen the hands of bigger opposition parties like TDP.

It’s really a Hamletian dilemma for Pawan, to remain in politics full time or go back to movies.

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a Hyderabad based journalist. He covered the entire spectrum of political activities of Telugu states from Hyderabad and New Delhi for about 3 decades. He represented Vaartha in New Delhi during the most happening decade of 1996-2006. He was political correspondent of Times of India from Hyderabad for 10 years. He was editor of Asianet’s Telugu digital platform. He contributed to many digital media outlets such as Al Jazeera, News 18, Newsable, South Post, The Lede ,Down to Earth etc. He is known for his Anthropological approach in the news analysis. He studied Physical Anthropology and prehistoric archaeology with Human population genetics as specialization, and his area of interest is Political Anthropology and Media Anthropology.

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