3 theatres ‘seized’ in Andhra Pradesh for screening Lakshmi’s NTR despite EC stay

The authorities in Andhra Pradesh’s Cuddapah district yesterday seized three cinema halls which screened the Telugu film Lakshmi’s NTR in violation of the orders of the Election Commission of India.

The three theatres screened the film on 1 May. Though the election authorities did not give permission to screen the film, the managements of the three theatres ignored the orders and exhibited the movie in the morning show.

When local revenue officials came to know of this, they let the theatres off with a warning. But the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO), Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, took serious note of the lapse and told the media that he had recommended to the Election Commission to take action against the joint collector of Cuddapah district who had failed to stop the screening.

Following this, joint collector Koteswar Rao ordered his officials to seize the three theatres. The theatres cannot screen any movie now.

Ram Gopal Varma, director of Lakshmi’s NTR, had planned to release the film in Andhra Pradesh on 1 May, but the CEO made it clear that the order of 10 April restricting the film’s exhibition in the state is still in force though Andhra Pradesh voted for its 175-member state legislative assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats on 11 April.

Lakshmi’s NTR, which was released in neighbouring Telangana last month, deals with the late Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and united Andhra Pradesh chief minister NT Rama Rao’s second marriage with Lakshmi Parvathi and the subsequent events, including the revolt by his son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu, and NTR’s death. Naidu is chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

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The Election Commission had refused to allow the screening of the movie in Andhra Pradesh after some TDP functionaries approached it saying the film depicts Naidu in bad light and could hurt the TDP’s electoral prospects.

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