Film songs beamed onto a giant screen, laser shows and film star bowing repeatedly to the crowd… You could have been forgiven for thinking it was a movie premiere.
It was a premiere, all right, but of a political party. One launched by Andhra superstar Chiranjeevi, before a 10-lakh-strong audience in the temple town of Tirupati. <b1>
The massive crowd clapped, whistled and danced as Chiranjeevi announced the name of the party, ‘Praja Rajyam’ (People’s Rule).
"Who called me into politics? It was you," he said dramatically. "It should be rule by the people, for the people." He added: "The new party will… strive to make this state ‘Santosha Andhra Pradesh’ (Contented Andhra Pradesh) and ‘Ananda Andhra Pradesh’ (Happy Andhra Pradesh).”
Chiranjeevi, the son of a constable, started off recounting his childhood spent in a remote village in coastal Andhra and how his mother struggled to raise him.
"It’s a war," he declared. "I am a soldier and so are you. There is no general." The meeting was interspersed with film clips showing him as a farmer dragging a plough and as a soldier. "I know ganji (rice gruel eaten by poor) and I know Benzi (Mercedes Benz)," he said with a flourish.
Chiranjeevi, however, skipped controversial issues like the demand for a separate Telangana state and backward community status for his own Kapu community. “We have a lot of thinking to do,” he explained. “We will come out with clear policies after that.”