Telegu film star and MLA Nandamuri Balakrishna has courted controversy with his remarks about AR Rahman and Bharat Ratna in an interview. Talking to a Telugu television channel, he said that he was unaware of who Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman was.
Balakrishna said that Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was equal to the ‘toenail’ of his father, late actor-politician NT Rama Rao.
The 61-year-old actor said, “I don’t know who Rahman is. I don’t care. Once in a decade, he gives a hit and gets an Oscar award.”
Interestingly, Rahman had composed the music for Balakrishna’s 1993 film Nippu Ravva.
Balakrishna went on to state that not just the Academy Awards but also Bharat Ratna hardly mattered. “Awards, my foot! No award can equal the contribution of my family to Telugu cinema. I feel Bharat Ratna is worth no more than NTR’s toenail. The award recipients must feel sad, not my family or my father,” he said.
Balakrishna made these comments about Rahman while discussing Ilaiyaraaja’s music in his 1991 film Aditya 369. Appreciating the music of the film, the actor said that while every music composer has a signature style, the songs from Aditya 369 were different from Ilaiyaraaja’s usual style.
Balakrishna did not spare even Hollywood filmmakers in the interview. Taking a dig at James Cameron, he said, “I like to wrap up my shootings quickly unlike that Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron who takes years to complete a film. The way I work, I do more hit films in less time.”
It is not the first time Nandamuri Balakrishna has courted controversy. He is infamous in the public space for assaulting people, including fans.
On the work front, Balakrishna is shooting for his next film Akhanda, written and directed by Boyapati Srinu. He has appeared in more than 100 Telugu films in over 40 years in a variety of roles and established himself as one of the leading actors of Telugu cinema. He has won three Nandi Awards and one South Indian International Movie Award.