Hyderabad: “A R Rahman, who?” If this question is posed by any common man, who has absolutely no general knowledge, forget about his filmy knowledge, it would have been no surprise.
But certainly not by a senior actor like Nandamuri Balakrishna, who has been in the film industry for nearly five decades.
Son of legendary actor late N T Rama Rao, who reigned supreme in Tollywood, Balakrishna, fondly called “Balayya” by millions of his fans, refused to acknowledge the existence of Oscar-winning music composer Rahman, leave alone recognising him as one of the greatest contemporary musicians in the world.
Ironically, Rahman had composed the background score for Balakrishna-Vijayashanti-starrer “Nippu Ravva”, of course as an assistant of Raj-Koti, in 1993.
Balakrishna made this comment as a passing remark about Rahman, while talking to a television channel about maestro Ilayaraja who composed for his super-hit Telugu film Aditya 369, released 30 years ago.
“Every music director has a style of his own. Like, Rahman.. I don’t know who this Rahman is. I don’t care about him. He delivers a hit once in a decade and got an Oscar,” Balakrishna said.
The senior actor might have his own reasons for making such a nasty comment on Rahman – may be the latter had refused to compose music for his films. But the comment was certainly in a bad taste.
Needless to say, Balakrishna came under heavy trolling for his remark against Rahman. Very soon, hashtag #whoisbalakrishna was trending on the social media, with twitterati taking a dig at the actor for his head-weight attitude. Many people wondered why he was spoiling his father’s name – NTR had a great respect for his music composers, who delivered several masterpieces for his films.
“My father smacked Sridevi’s butt”
What is worse, in the same interview, Balakrishna made nasty remarks about popular actress Sridevi, who passed away three years ago. He was explaining about how new actors should learn by observing seniors and better-performing co-actors.
“Take the case of Sridevi. My father taught her how to act by smacking on her buttocks and stamping on her feet. When heroines like Sridevi were making soft moves during the dance, my father, who was rough in his approach, used to thump on their backs and tweak their midriffs to adopt his style,” Balakrishna said.
“Even big actresses like Madhuri Dixit became good dancers by imitating Saroj Khan,” Balakrishna said, imitating the obese body of the choreographer.
Balayya, the incorrigible
This is not the first time that Balakrishna made such nasty comments about people in the film industry and outside. He came under fire from women’s organisations for his sexist comments during an audio release function of a film in 2016.
“My fans will not accept me, if I play the role of a hero teasing girls or running after them. I should either kiss them or make them pregnant. We have to commit ourselves, if we do roles,” he said.
The comments made viral, drawing huge criticism from various quarters, forcing Balakrishna to tender an apology.
When Balakrishna speaks Hindi
Not for just loose-tongue remarks, Balakrishna has hit the headlines and become the subject for trolling in the social media for his Urdu and Hindi poems, of course in his typical Telugu-ised style.
At yet another film function in October 2018, Balakrishna sprang surprises on the audience by belching out a Pankaj Udhas ghazal in his inimitable style to shower praises on heroine Pooja Hegde:
“Lagta hai aasman se farista utarnese…….
Har khali mastekhab ho jaati hai …
patti patti gulab ho jati hein
Kyun na dali mein fida nadhaniya ..
Varna shabnam bhi sharab ho jathi hein …
Of course, nobody on the stage understood what Balakrishna said and even those who knew Hindi could not make out what he was saying because the way he read out the poem. Audiences, however, burst into loud applause.
When Balakrishna takes to political speeches, he is just unstoppable. He shifts his gears in such a way that it is difficult to make out which way he is wishing to drive.
Balakrishna, the Telugu Desam Party MLA from Hindupur and brother-in-law of former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, was at his aggressive best when he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public meeting in Vijayawada before 2019 general elections.
While making an attack on the NDA government for betraying Andhra Pradesh on the special category status, he suddenly shifted to Hindi to launch a tirade against the Prime Minister. “Bhagaawat hogayee, abhi jung baaki hai,” he thundered.
He went on to say: “Yeh Andhra Pradesh hai, aapka Gujarat nahi jis par aap ka hukumat chalasakte hai. Hamara har Telugu log ke rag ragon mein NTR ka khoon beh raha hai!”
And Balakrishna foul-mouthed Modi with choicest epithets in Hindi: “Gaddar, Namak Haraam, Abhi bol raha hun mein, bahar aa… agar logon ki baat sunne ka mann hai toh sun, nahi toh maar maar ke bhagayenge tumhe… Tu agar logon ke paas gaye toh logaan tumhe daudayenge, maar peet ke daudayenge.”
He also described Modi as “Makhichoose” in his typical style, which sounded an abuse for many leading to the BJP leaders attacking him and demanding an unconditional apology from him.
But Balayya is Balayya. He is incorrigible!
A Srinivasa Rao is Senior Journalist based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He has over three decades of reporting experience.