A bitter exchange of abuses has broken out online among fans of contemporary Telugu cinema’s big stars, amid a lean patch in the industry that hasn’t had a successful release since Bahubali — The Beginning.
Upset with the setbacks to their favourites, fans of one star have also been heckling other stars at promotional events and public functions. Recently, overenthusiastic fans of K Pawan Kalyan targeted actor Allu Arjun, demanding that he speak in praise the latter. Allu Arjun refused, much to the chagrin of Pawan’s fans who started heckling him and later trolled him online for days with the hashtag “chooskuntam, brother” (we will see you, brother).
Another actor, Erada Naresh, also known as Allari Naresh, was forced to say that actor Mahesh Babu deserves a national award.
On Wednesday, fans of actor Mahesh Babu called for “lynching” an editor and “firebombing” a newspaper office in Hyderabad for publishing a unfavourable review of the actor’s latest film, Brahmotsavam. Police were deployed at the office following the threat.
As the review was shared on social networking sites, Mahesh Babu’s fans called up newspaper offices randomly and started abusing employees, including women. Sobbing women callers demanded to know why such “harsh” words were written about Mahesh Babu. Calls came from as far as Kolkata and New Delhi.
The film, directed by Addala Srikanth, was released amid wide publicity but is apparently not doing well. Previous Mahesh Babu films would draw full houses at every show. The failure has led to fans of other stars poking fun at him, often going on to abuse.
Fans of Pawan, brother of K Chiranjeevi, have described Brahmotsavam as “Floputsavam” on posts on Facebook and Twitter. Mahesh Babu’s have fans reacted by posting memes calling Pawan a comedian and a cartoon. On one Facebook page, “Troll who troll Mahesh”, fans have posted photoshopped images with derogatory dialogues. Pawan’s last release, Sardar Gabbar Singh, did not do well at the box office either.
One post on another Facebook page says “Monkey found his brother” with a photograph of a popular actor alongside an image of a chimpanzee.
The fans are also attacking film families. As a brother of Chiranjeevi who is known as “megastar”, Pawan is being referred to as “mega family”. Allu Arjun is his nephew and is also being bracketed in the “mega family”. Actor Junior NTR, grandson of Telugu Desam Party founder N T Rama Rao, is being branded “Nandamuri family”. Mahesh Babu, married to Namrata Shirodkar, is the son of yesteryear superstar G Krishna.
“Mega family pays everyone to say or write against other actors,” one fan of Mahesh Babu said. A member of PK Fans (for Pawan Kalyan) said Mahesh Babu fans cannot digest the fact that his film bombed. “So they abuse and make personal comments against actors,’’ he said.
“It is a vicious cyber war,” said a member of the Movie Artists Association.“Tweets against actors are retweeted thousands of times within hours. Facebook posts with derogatory messages get thousands of likes. One comment by fans of one actor is matched by more nasty comments by fans of other actors.”
After he was heckled at an audio release function recently, Allu Arjun lashed out at fans of Pawan Kalyan. “At every function, you guys chants ‘Pawan Kalyan, power star’ and force me to say something about him. I keep quiet not because of Pawan Kalyan but because of you fans. Some of you are becoming a real nuisance and things are getting out of hand. Sometimes you don’t even allow people to speak. You do this even when senior actors like Chiranjeevi is speaking,’’ he said.