SS Rajamouli's Baahubali: The Conclusion might have put Tollywood on the global map in 2017, but the south film industry, like any other, has seen its own share of controversies that dented its image this year.
It has been a spectacular year for Tollywood as it has delivered some of the most critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful movies. But the row over Nandi Awards, alleged drug and prostitution rackets in the industry hinted at a darker side of the entertainment business. Some issues also attracted foreign media.
These top 10 controversies rattled Telugu film industry this year:
1. Drug racket
The Hyderabad police busted the drug racket early this year and the alleged involvement of celebrities made headlines for weeks. The SIT (Special Investigation Team) interrogated several celebs from the film industry including Ravi Teja, Navdeep, Puri Jagannadh and Charmi Kaur. Though nothing has been proved yet, the damage has been already done.
2. Nandi Awards
For the first time since bifurcation, the Andhra Pradesh government announced the Nandi Award winners for three years at a go — 2014, 2015, and 2016. It sparked controversy as many from the film industry and also the avid filmgoers were disappointed over the jury's decisions. It was alleged by a few that the awards were given to people belonging to a particular caste and in support of the current ruling dispensation at the state, i.e. Telugu Desam Party.
3. Balakrishna slapgate
Actor Nandamuri Balakrishna is known to get rude with his fans many a times. He was caught on camera slapping them on two different occasions — Nandyal by-election campaign and opening ceremony of Jai Simha. The actor-turned-politician faced a lot of flak for it. He faced feminists' ire too after making a derogatory comment on women during a film function.
4. NTR biopic
Balakrishna was also in news for another reason. He announced making a biopic on his father late NT Rama Rao and roped in Ram Gopal Varma to direct it initially. But he gave up on Varma as he did not like his script. Irked RGV went on to announce another biopic on the legendary actor, which he called Lakshmi's NTR. His announcement led to mud-slinging between TDP and YSRCP, the ruling and opposition parties in the state.
5. Arjun Reddy liplock poster
Sandeep Vanga directorial Arjun Reddy kicked up a row for its intense liplock poster featuring Vijay Devarakonda and Shalini Pandey. As part of promotions, the poster was displayed on TSRTC buses too. When former Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao saw the poster, he got enraged for such public display of romance and tore it down from the bus. It led to debates and discussions on TV panels and among the public in general.
6. Chalapathi Rao's sexist comment
Veteran actor Chalapathi Rao faced the wrath of women when he made a sexist remark on them during a film function. The senior actor played a supporting role in Raarandoi Veduka Chuddam, with the tagline 'Girls are injurious to health'. Speaking at the audio launch of the film, he said, "They are not harmful, but they will be very useful in bed." This drew a lot of flak from women's groups.
7. Prabhas' Mr Perfect plagiarism
Mr Perfect, which was released on April 21, 2011, is one of the big hits of Prabhas. Six years after its release, writer Shyamala Rani alleged that the makers had copied the story of her novel 'Naa Manasu Korindi Ninne' without her permission. The argument between the novelist and director Dasaradh Kondapalli created a huge buzz in the media.
8. DJ aka Duvvada Jagannadham
DJ aka Duvvada Jagannadham made news after the Brahmin community objected to the use of words like Namakam Chamakam in the song Gudilo Badilo Madilo Vodilo. Brahmins were upset over 'making fun' of Rudra Strotram and showing their community in bad light. But Harish Shankar put an end to controversy by remove those lines from the song.
9. Prostitution racket
The high profile flesh trade has often defamed the Telugu film industry in the past and it continued this year too. The Hyderabad Police recently raided two five-star hotels and rescued two actresses. This incident exposed the darker side of Tollywood.
10. Gautamiputra Satakarni
Director Krish's Gautamiputra Satakarni (GPSK) starring Balakrishna was caught in a controversy after Captain L Panduranga Reddy demanded the Telangana government withdraw the tax exemption for the movie. He claimed that the film was historically inaccurate and it is not right to make it tax-free. Along with a few groups, he held a press meet regarding the issue, which created a lot of buzz in the media.
Besides these, Suchi Leaks, poster of Fashion Designer S/O Ladies Tailor, censorship of Adirindi, suicides of Pradeep Kumar and Vijay Sai also courted controversies.