The Andhra Pradesh government has abruptly banned "Chintamani," a tremendously popular yet divisive drama, alleging it insults the Vysya group. The drama has existed for over a century, and the clamour for its abolition started nearly a decade ago. But why did Jagan Mohan Reddy just now made the decision to scrap it? What's behind the ban's politics?
After the Arya Vysya group complained to the 100-year-old play, stating that it contained offensive content directed at their community, the government made the decision. Since 2020, the community has been calling for a ban on the game. Their complaint is on the portrayal of Subbi Setty, a Vysya trader who is mocked in the film. He is depicted as a comic character who loses all of his fortune as a result addicting to the habit of visiting brothels frequently.
"Our community has been objecting to the play for some years now," M Dwarkanath, head of the Andhra Pradesh Arya-Vysya Mahasabha, told media, "but no government paid regard to it previously." The current administration has examined the situation and reached the appropriate conclusion."
"The play has damaged our community's sensibilities, We are depicted as people who are dark, short, and speak a weird language," he said in reference to the Subbi Setty persona. This may have been acceptable a century ago, but it is no longer ok, It's defamatory."
If anyone remembers, Jagan's YCP party has insulted the Vysya community on at least two occasions recently. Both episodes left a sour taste in the community's mouths, and there has been widespread criticism on AP CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YCP political party.
YS Jagan did not physically call upon a family member of previous Chief Minister K Rosaiah at the time of his Demise. Rosaiah is, after all, the tallest and most revered Vysya leader. Subba Rao Gupta, a Vysya from his own party, was severely beaten in Prakasam district shortly after. Both incidents have enraged the Vysya community throughout the state.
Though few in number, Vysyas wield considerable power in areas such as Nandyal, Adoni, Proddatur, Kurnool, Vijayawada West, Guntur Old City, and others. With close elections expected in 2024, Jagan cannot afford to alienate any community. He realises that Vysyas has the potential to sway the votes in at least 10 to 15 assembly districts.
Leaders from the Vysya community, such as Vellampalli Srinivas, reportedly alerted YS Jagan on the rumblings inside the group. The long-pending demand to ban "Chintamani," in which the Vysyas are mocked, was chosen by an anxious Jagan. The restriction is pointless because theatre in AP is already dead, and drama hasn't been seen in years. Jagan reaps the publicity benefits of outlawing a non-existent entity and ends up as a "protector" of Vysya reputation.