Director SS Rajamouli‘s period drama Roudhram Ranam Rudhiram (RRR) courted controversy after Telangana BJP state president and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar threatened to burn down theatres if the film depicted protagonist Komaram Bheem wearing a skullcap.
During a campaign on November 1, he said, “If you are going to make a film by undermining Komaram Bheem, by undermining the rights of adivasis and by undermining the sentiments of adivasis, we will hit you with sticks. If you release the film in theatres, we will set fire to every theatre showing your movie.”
Accusing the director of distorting facts, he added: “For sensation, if Rajamouli puts a cap on the head of Komaram Bheem, will we keep quiet? Never.”
On October 21, the filmmakers released a video of Komaram Bheem, played by Junior NTR, introducing him as an adivasi who applies kohl in his eyes, wears an amulet and a skullcap. Soon, the film landed in a controversy regarding the adivasi leader’s religion.
In 2018, when Rajamouli announced the project, he had clarified that the film, which is based on freedom fighters Alluri Sitaramaraju and Komaram Bheem, would not be a biopic.
“My film will not dwell on the stories of their rebellion that we already know. But, it will focus on what would have happened if they had met during their self-imposed exile and became friends,” he had said.
Adivasi leader Komaram Bheem fought against the Nizam’s rule in Hyderabad. The Gond tribal leader came up with the slogan Jal, Jangal, Zameen (water, forest, land) and fought for the rights of forest-dwellers.
In an interview to a local news channel, Adilabad MP and BJP leader Soyam Bapu Rao said, “We have no objection if you want to highlight Komaram Bheem, but if you hurt the sentiments of adivasis, we won’t tolerate it. If you (Rajamouli) continue with ‘let adivasis do whatever they want, I will do whatever I want’ kind of attitude, you will have to face serious consequences.”
“The film has already completed 40% of its shooting, but as there’s still 60% of it left. Remove the surma, skull cap, and pyjama and try to show the genuine Komaram Bheem, or else we will see to that the film doesn’t get released. Even if it does, we won’t hesitate to burn down theatres,” he said.
According to a The News Minute report, the claim made by the MP- that Komaram Bheem was a Hindu has been outrightly rejected by the adivasi community.
The filmmakers, however, are yet to comment on the controversy.