This Is Why Our Heroes Fear Stage Shows Abroad
Cultural programmes involving Telugu film stars, which are regularly organised by NRI associations abroad — especially in the USA — are fast losing their sheen with more and more A-listers preferring to stay away as these dos have gained a notoriety for sleaze and flesh trade by B-grade actresses. Sources say cash-rich NRIs send a list of their “favourite starlets” and the Telugu Movie Artistes Association (MAA), which co-ordinates the tours, allegedly includes them in its 200-member entourage every year. Often, many of the starlets are repeated. While these shows are meant to bring stars and their overseas fans under one roof, their credibility has taken a beating. A TV anchor-cum-actress reportedly went missing for 60 days before returning to India while other small-time starlets have been known to escort rich NRIs for weeks and return with expensive gifts. There was a time when these associations would attract big names likeChiranjeevi and Nagarjuna, not anymore. Apparently, Mahesh Babu, Pawan Kalyan, Jr NTR, Allu Arjun and Naga Chaitanya have all declined invites from the NRI organisers this year. Earlier this year, only Balakrishna went as the chief guest for the American Telugu Association (ATA) and raised funds to the tune of Rs 60 lakh for his cancer institute, whereas Ram Charan Tej participated in a function organised by the North American Telugu Society (NATS). Among top actresses, Shriya Saran’s is the only big name among the 200-odd members. Otherwise, the troupe mostly comprises B and C-grade actresses including Jothi, who was arrested for prostitution in Hyderabad. “That’s the sorry state of these shows and some actresses have polluted the atmosphere. Sometimes, NRIs, too, behave cheaply with actresses, but the organisers look the other way. It’s better to decline these offers,” says a leading actress, who discontinued after two trips. She doesn’t mind losing the “fat packet” which is anything between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on their popularity. A decade ago, there was only the Telugu Association of North America (TANA). It would invite Telugu artistes, composers and playback singers for shows for the Indian community residing in the US. But differences among medicos, IT professionals, engineers and others led to the association being split into the American Telugu Association (ATA) and North American Telugu Society (NATS). The two associations started competing with each other and even raised the pay packets for reigning performers and singers from $2,000 to $10,000. “I discontinued since I was unhappy with some issues. Although I have a high regard for the American associations and have participated a couple of times, the space is shrinking for people with dignity and values,” rues leading playback singer Sunita. A music composer blames the nouveau rich NRIs. “Earlier, the NRIs behaved with dignity but new-age professionals look down upon actresses… don’t respect them as performers and if any actress protests their advances, few organisers do anything about it,” he says. “It’s unfair to make sweeping allegations against these events since they are meant to promote our culture and talent in the USA. But repetition of actors can be avoided by widening the selection process and by including actors with specialised talents,” says Kadambari Kiran, executive committee member of Movie Artistes Association.
(Source: Deccan Chronicle)