Following protests by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma has agreed to delete some scenes allegedly projecting former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao in poor light in his film Rakta Charitra which hit the screens on Friday.
Varma, who is the director of the movie, and producer C. Kalyan said they would delete the objectionable scenes and dialogues.
Their assurance came after TDP activists took to the streets in parts of the state and stopped screening of the movie at a few theatres, alleging that Varma projected the party founder as a villain.
Stating that he is the biggest fan of the late former chief minister and popular actor NTR, Varma said those who had not even watched the movie were staging protests. "They should see the larger context in which the movie has been produced," he said.
The TDP leaders alleged that Varma projected NTR as the one who encouraged factional violence by inducting Paritala Ravi into the party.
Protestors in Anantapur, Hindupur, Eluru, Visakhapatnam, Karimnagar and other towns gathered outside theatres, raised slogans against Varma and burnt his effigy. They demanded a ban on the movie.
The protestors attacked theatres in Visakhapatnam and Karimnagar towns and stopped the screening of the movie.
TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded that the scenes belittling NTR should be deleted and the filmmaker should apologise.
NTR's second wife Lakshmi Parvathi too demanded that the controversial scenes be deleted.
Veteran actor Shatrughan Sinha played the role of NTR in the movie, which evoked tremendous response across the state on the first day.
Anantapur district remained tense but there were no reports of any violence. Police continued their vigil to prevent any untoward incident.
Family of Obul Reddy, one of the characters in the movie, has also taken exception to the manner in which he was projected.
Earlier, Varma cancelled his visit to Anantapur on the advice of the police. Varma was planning to watch the movie in a theatre in Anantapur.
The film, based on the factional war between two families in Anantapur, is the talk of the town as the followers of both the families waited to see if their leaders are projected right and as heroes or villains.
The trilingual film in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil revolves around the feud between gangster politicians Paritala Ravi and Suryanarayana Reddy alias Maddelachervu Suri. Besides Sinha, it stars Vivek Oberoi and Surya in key roles.
Ravi, a former minister and leader of the main opposition TDP in the state, was gunned down in 2005 allegedly by the followers of Congress leader Suri, who is currently in jail for the bomb blast in Hyderabad's posh Jubilee Hills.
The movie triggered a row much before the release with peace activists and NGOs opposing it on the ground that it could lead to a fresh spell of violence. They accused Varma of making factional statements through the movie and appealed to the people to reject it.
Locals also raised objection to Varma using the name of the district in the film. The protests forced him to change the name to Anandapuram.
Paritala Ravi was allegedly gunned down in Anantapur town Jan 24, 2005, by Suri's followers.
Suri had earlier made an attempt to kill Ravi in 1997 at the Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. Though Ravi escaped unhurt, 25 people were killed and many injured in the bomb blast.
Anantapur district is part of the backward Rayalaseema region, is notorious for factional killings. Factions backed by political parties have been engaged in bloody battles for decades for supremacy in villages, especially in Anantapur district.
The factionists are notorious for the merciless manner in which they eliminate their rivals. More than 500 people have been killed in the violence over the past 15 years.