Why did you join the Opposition, and what did you wish to express with that shirt [half white with stickers depicting poor people crying, half black with rich people laughing]?
I feel PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation, while was aimed to hurt the rich, has hurt the poor people more. That’s why I had to protest. The poor are suffering while the rich are not bothered at all. My shirt, which I designed myself, is a way to depict that.
How do you see the poor affected?
Women like to have some gold in their possession; senior citizens like to keep cash so they don’t have to depend on their children for day-to-day survival. All this has been disrupted while the life of the rich remains unaffected. So who is suffering due to this? It is the poor.
But your leader N Chandrababu Naidu supports demonetisation and heads the government’s sub-committee of chief ministers to enable a cashless economy?
Maybe this is Modi’s way to make my boss take some of the flak from the people for demonetisation. I was Chandrababu’s classmate in school for years so I have a special relationship with him.
Are you not going against the party line on such an important matter?
So what? I am an artiste, acted in cinema and theatre. An artiste cannot stay silent when he sees people suffering everywhere.
Did you take the party’s permission before joining the Opposition protest?
No. I took on various avatars during the protests against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and then again over special status to the state. An artiste is entitled to his artistic expression.