History of MAA Maa Elections 2021: The Story So Far | The Movie Artists Association (MAA) elections for the tenure 2021-2023 will be held on October 10. The announcement was made by senior actor VK Naresh, who is the incumbent president of MAA. The Disciplinary Committee (DRC) of MAA headed by veteran actors Krishnam Raju, Murali Mohan, Mohan Babu, Giri Babu, and Siva Krishna recommended the above date for the elections. There has been a keen interest in who will compete and who will win the MAA Elections 2021, as it has become a prestige of sort ever since the MAA body was constituted 26 years ago for the welfare of the movie artists.
The Movie Artists Association (MAA) was founded 26 years ago with Megastar Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Venkatesh, Murali Mohan, Mohan Babu along with Tollywood veterans Akkineni Nageshwar Rao, NT Rama Rao, Dr Rama Naidu, Dasari Narayana Rao, UV Krishnam Raju, among others who started the association for the welfare of the Telugu movie artists. This decision was taken after the Telugu film industry shifted to Hyderabad from Madras where it was operating for the past 75 years. After the thespians and senior actors shifted base to Hyderabad, and other actors slowly following suit, it was necessary to create one body for the interests of the Telugu artists.
This apart there was a need to establish a body to ensure the funds collected by the artists through various shows and programmes should be put to use and ensure transparency in the funds' utilization.
The acronym MAA was coined similar to the Kerala movie artist body AMMA - which is the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, meaning mother and indicating that the body was akin to a mother taking care of the welfare of its children. The association first operated from actor Murali Mohan’s residence and later moved to a room in the Film Nagar Welfare Society in Jubilee Hills.
The body was formally launched in 1993 with more than 250 members with Chiranjeevi as its founder member and the first President of MAA. In its initial years, there were no elections and the post of the President was a unanimous decision made by the members of the association. Chiranjeevi, Murali Mohan (six times), Nagarjuna, Mohan Babu, and Naga Babu served as the Presidents of MAA which was a position held for two years.
Internal rifts and politics between the members over who should be the next President resulted in the Body conducting elections for the post of President and the governing body members.
Since 2015, the elections to MAA had become a much talked about topic amongst the film fraternity and the media who covered the polls extensively. Several factors, including political, division of members into camps, caste, and regional affiliations due to the bifurcation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh had added new dimensions to MAA elections which made it look as if it was a typical general election.
Image Source: Deccan Chronicle
Senior actor Rajendra Prasad won the 2015 elections where he defeated actress Jayasudha who was the first woman to contest for MAA presidency.
She was the only woman to contest for the presidency to date and there has been no woman president of MAA so far. While Rajendra Prasad had Chiranjeevi’s support, Jayasudha had her co-actor and close friend Murali Mohan’s support. However, she lost to Rajendra Prasad by a mere 85 votes.
After this in 2017, MAA Members decided not to go for Elections and for the first time since MAA was established in 1993. All the members were elected unanimously with Sivaji Raja elected as the President, Banarjee & Venu Madhav as the Vice Presidents, Naresh as the General Secretary,
Hema & Edida Sriram as Secretaries and Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao as the Treasurer.
But a year later Naresh had come up with allegations of funds misuse (Rs 5 Crore) in MAA and conducted a press meet against Sivaji Raja and Srikanth. He shared a call list history with Sivaji Raja which clarified that Sivaji Raja was avoiding Naresh since 2017 over the alleged fraud. He called for a fact-finding committee to probe the alleged misappropriation of funds. However, the team that is supporting Shivaji Raja opposed the proposal. The money apparently was collected as part of the events for the MAA Silver Jubilee Celebrations held in the USA.After the rift between Sivaji Raja and Naresh was exposed, things simmered down and their terms ended.
When the elections were held on March 10th in 2019, a panel headed by Naresh emerged victorious in the polls which had become a much talked about event in social media. He beat the two-time MAA President Sivaji Raja, where more than 472 voters of from the association turned out to vote which is considered the highest voter turnout since its inception.
His team comprised Dr Rajasekhar as Executive President, Director SV Krishna Reddy and character artist Hema as Vice Presidents, Jeevitha Rajasekhar as General Secretary, Gowtham Raju, and Siva Balaji elected as Joint Secretaries and Rajeev Kanakala as treasurer
Now with his term ending in September, the MAA Elections 2021 came to the fore. But due to COVID pandemic and the subsequent lockdown had led to a delay in the announcement of the date of the elections.
Even before the announcement was made senior actors Prakash Raj, Vishnu Manchu, and advocate-turned-actor CVL Narasimha Rao jumped into the fray to contest for the coveted post of MAA president. The MAA Association has already been divided into camps, each supported by the bigwigs of the Tollywood fraternity and the MAA founders.
While Prakash Raj has got the support of the Chiranjeevi camp, Manchu Vishnu has the support of senior actor Krishna and Nandamuri Balakrishna. Jeevitha Rajasekhar and character artist Hema who first wanted to contest for the post of MAA president suddenly changed their stance and joined the Prakash Raj camp. It seems like they were allegedly convinced by the senior members to quit the contest and join Prakash Raj’s team.
Prakash Raj team goes by the name CineMAA Biddalu ( children of CineMaa) where he announced 25 members from his panel, some of who are contesting for various positions for the artists’ association.
Prakash Raj in his imitable style had spoken about his mandate and development plans for MAA which was appreciated by one and all. But after he came into the picture there was opposition from few members about him being a non-local ( he hails from Karnataka) and that he was not eligible to contest for an association that was meant purely for the Telugu film industry. He brushed aside the “non-local tag’’ and stated there film actors are all universal and there can be no regional disparities. That apart he has the strong support of the founder president Chiranjeevi and senior members of the film industry including Murali Mohan and Jaya Sudha.
While controversial actor/producer Bandla Ganesh was part of the CineMAA Biddalu, left the team as he was apparently miffed with Jeevitha Rajasekhar being selected to contest for the General Secretary post. He quietly quit the team and announced on his Twitter handle that he was contesting independently as the General Secretary, clearly indicating the rift in the team.
Now Vishnu Manchu, who earlier served as Executive Vice president of MAA a while ago, claims that he has the experience to be the MAA President coupled with the experience of his father Mohan Babu who is one of the founding members and former president of MAA. He has not announced his panel of team members so far, has one talking point for development is the construction of a building for MAA , which as of now operates from the Film Nagar building.
Good morning to my MAA family 💪🏽❤️ pic.twitter.com/6j8LddFuRG— Vishnu Manchu (@iVishnuManchu) August 21, 2021
He also stated that he had given 15% of his earnings for the building and would be the ideal candidate as he brings in a fresh perspective and ideas to the industry- with the support of the seniors in the industry.
నా MAA కుటుంబానికి 🙏.To my MAA family 🙏 pic.twitter.com/1TDa3f8lYA— Vishnu Manchu (@iVishnuManchu) June 27, 2021
CVL Narasimha Rao
The third contestant in the fray is CVL Narasimha Rao an advocate in the Telangana high court and also a part-time character artist. With his entry, the question of having a separate MAA panel for the State of Telangana was brought in and pitching forth the Telangana sentiment after the bifurcation of the Telugu States in 2014. The only person to support CVL Rao was actress Vijayashanthi who is currently a member of the Telangana BJP unit. By industry standards, he is not a strong contender to take on the likes of Prakash Raj, even though he brings in the Telangana sentiment.
With this, it is clear that it is now going to be a triangular fight for MAA with the strong contenders being Prakash Raj and Vishnu Manchu. The contestants are leaving no stone unturned to garner the support of the association members. The dates for the nomination, counting of votes, and the declaration of results are yet to be announced.
Another interesting point to note is that though there is so much of brouhaha happening over the MAA elections, the younger generation heroes like Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Jr NTR, Allu Arjun, Ram Charan, Rana Daggubati, Nani, Ram, Naga Chaitanya, Vijay Deverakonda and others are never part of the MAA elections directly. However, it is understood that as most of the founding members are either their fathers or kin their allegiance is subtly understood. They choose to stay away from the political happenings at MAA and are not inclined to speaking about it either.
The exceptions are Manchu Vishnu and his sister Manchu Lakshmi who are the only ones vocal about the affairs of MAA as they have also served in different capacities earlier.
Over the last few years, the reputation of the MAA has taken a beating with the association members getting into loggerheads with each other. Ego tussles over particular issues and public spats sometimes even in front of the media, have become commonplace. Last year in January Dr Rajasekhar spoke against the association during the calendar launch of the MAA where Chiranjeevi, Krishnam Raju, Jaya Sudha were present. Chiranjeevi also scolded him for his outburst and later Dr Rajasekhar apologized and quit his post as Executive Vice President and moved on.
Watch Dr. Rajasekhar Speech at MAA Diary Launch 2020
Recently Chiranjeevi quit from the disciplinary committee and submitted his resignation to Krishnam Raju, the Chairman of the disciplinary committee, and has asked to be relieved of his duties immediately. The Megastar who is the Founder-President of MAA cited “ his busy work schedule and film commitments’’ as the reason. But insiders state that as the twists and turn of events are going out of hand with the junior members not giving enough respect to the senior members, had led to him resigning from the post and staying away from the MAA activities.
Apart from this over the last couple of years, there are reports of misuse of funds by a few board members, several administrative issues, lack of separate building for the body, and high fees to join the MAA which makes it difficult for other smaller artists to join the association. To get membership into the body is also a difficult task.
The membership issue was highlighted when a starlet Sri Reddy conducted a semi-nude protest in 2018 against the Movie Artist Association (MAA) for denying her membership and also about the casting couch issue prevalent in the Telugu film industry. The Association was quick to respond wherein they rubbished her allegations. The MAA President then Sivaji Raja said, said that they were willing to help her if '' she put the past behind''. She was told to pay Rs 1 lakh with two introductory references for obtaining the membership, and that her candidature would be discussed at the executive committee’s meeting. Even though she accepted the terms she went out of the office and stripped, they said. Though the MAA membership fees were not given much importance, the issue that Telugu girls should be given roles in Tollywood films and her claim that filmmakers were sexually exploiting other actresses had come out in the open.
Also Read: Sri Reddy Strips At Hyderabad Film Chambers
This apart the MAA President is never the single point of contact to represent the film industry when there is a crisis. The issues related to insurance schemes, pensions for artists, medical aid for poor artists are taken care of by MAA. There are 24 unions of workers in the Telugu film industry and they operate independently from MAA. This apart there is also the Telugu Cine Workers Cooperative Housing Society (TCWCS) which allots flats and plots in Chitrapuri Colony in the prime Manikonda locality. There have been several cases of plots sold to individuals who are not the actual beneficiaries of the film industry workers, pointing towards the blatant corruption while allocating them. The other latest concern was the movie ticket pricing, which varies in both the Telugu States. When the Andhra Prades State government held talks, it was not MAA president or members who were part of the discussions with the AP Minister Perni Nani.