Megastar Chiranjeevi might have joined Twitter and Instagram late, but he’s making it count in a surprising manner. And it’s easily one of the best things to have happened in 2020 on Telugu movie digital space.
In late March, 2020, when Megastar Chiranjeevi joined the Twitter and Instagram bandwagon, it came as a huge surprise for me. From the little I’ve seen, at press meets and events, Chiranjeevi is affable and when he speaks on stage, there are plenty of quotable quotes. In recent years, particularly, he has come out in support of several other actors, including his peers and others from the current generation. One of the reasons could also be the cordial relations which his son, Ram Charan has with his peers in the industry, and Chiranjeevi himself has a great equation with almost everyone in the industry. Now, all these facets of his persona are well-documented, but then, social media is a different ball game altogether. And over the past few months, Chiranjeevi and his digital marketing team have given plenty of reasons to look forward to what he does next.
Take a look at the posts on Megastar’s feed, and you’ll find all sorts of things, including him flipping a pesarettu on the pan (I’m still in awe of that flip!), cooking fish fry which he learnt from his mother, teasing Ram Charan, giving a big shout out to younger actors like Karthikeya…and even highlighting the importance of plants and trees with a caption which reads – “Mokke kadha ani vadhilesthe…” (a reference to his iconic dialogue from ‘Indra’)….and so on.
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Choosing the right photo or a caption, that too for someone of his stature, is an arduous task. I can vouch for this after learning how many iterations a photograph or a poster would go through before it’s released on the internet. And, I can only imagine what sort of brainstorming sessions would be happening with the digital marketing team handling Megastar Chiranjeevi’s brand. So far, they have done a good job at humanising Chiranjeevi’s persona even more, and it’s no less than an achievement, if I may say so.
Some of you might even wonder if this is a big deal or why should anyone care about what actors post on their social media profiles. Well, let me try to elucidate further about how the idea of stardom is shaped in South Indian film industries, especially in Telugu, and why humanising the Megastar feels so different. And it all boils down to the invisible lines that shape an actor’s persona. Work is still the first priority, and the box-office performance of a film determines their stardom. Beyond that, the discourse about an actor’s public and personal life is based on how much of their own lives they want to share with the people.
మై డియర్ బచ్చా …మా అమ్మ దగ్గర నీ ‘బట్టర్ ‘ ఉడకదురా. ఫస్ట్ ప్లేస్ ఎప్పుడు నాదే. How much ever you BUTTER, your position will not become BETTER. But … …అదే guarantee నాకు మీ అమ్మ దగ్గర లేదనుకో 😜 https://t.co/x1AIBZR3lM
— Chiranjeevi Konidela (@KChiruTweets) May 2, 2020
A select few stars guard their privacy to an extent that they won’t talk to the media unless they have a film releasing. And a few others, who consider social media as a necessary evil, will share the posters and important announcements about their films. This effectively turns their social media profiles into noticeboards devoid of any character. Then, a few others use it to promote things that they firmly believe in – this could be about NGO’s they are supporting, social issues, appealing to people to donate blood etc. Some stars reveal a completely different persona, where they reveal what their lives are like with their families, when they are away from the camera.
When you start noticing all these patterns and whether stars like being on social media or not, you begin to wonder where would someone of Chiranjeevi’s stature fit in? What aspect of his life would people want to know? Is there something about him that his ardent admirers don’t already know? In many ways, social media and the way it’s used becomes an extension of the actor’s personality and opinions. That is why it becomes hard to separate their onscreen persona from their opinions, especially if the star is also active in politics. As a result, a lot of people prefer not saying anything at all on Twitter or Instagram.
Two years ago, an assistant director who had worked with Chiranjeevi suggested that I interview him sometime. And it struck me that I don’t know much about him as a person, although I understand his stature as the Megastar. When I expressed my reservations that I might fumble, I was simply told – “Don’t worry about that. He’s young at heart. He has the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old.” In fact, Chiranjeevi himself joked about his age on stage. And his social media presence makes it evident that he has adapted to change very quickly.
Twitter and Instagram are no less than a minefield and one wrong move could undo years of good work. In a world where Covid-19 has reshaped our conversations online, Chiranjeevi’s entry into social media has been a bright spot, for me, this year. He has already revealed that he enjoys cooking a lot…who knows…maybe he’ll throw a food challenge to his friends and family members. Or maybe, he’ll reveal a lot more things about his life which some of his own family members are reluctant to share….or maybe, he’ll teach how to dance gracefully in a video….or maybe, he’ll inspire us to loosen up and chill. The possibilities are endless…but more than anything, I’m grateful that with each Instagram post and Tweet, Chiranjeevi is erasing those invisible lines built around his persona. By revealing a little more about himself, he is pushing us to look at his new persona from a fresh perspective. And that’s why his tweets and digital presence matter.