Varma was planning to watch the movie in a theatre in Anantapur town. The film, based on the factional war between two families in Anantapur, is the talk of the town as the followers of both the families are waiting to see if their leaders are projected right and as heroes or villains.
The trilingual film in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil revolves around the feud between gangster politicians Paritala Ravi and Suryanarayana Reddy alias Maddelachervu Suri. It stars Vivek Oberoi, Surya and Shatrughan Sinha in key roles.
Ravi, a former minister and leader of the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the state, was gunned down in 2005 allegedly by the followers of Congress leader Suri, who is currently in jail for the bomb blast in Hyderabad's posh Jubilee Hills.
Police have made elaborate arrangements at the theatres in Anantapur district to prevent any clash between the two groups. The Bharatiya Janata Party, some student groups and NGOs are also staging protests against the screening of the movie. Anantapur Superintendent of Police Manish Kumar Sinha said adequate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order.
Ravi's widow and TDP legislator Paritala Sunita is unhappy that Varma did not show her the film before release though he promised to during the shooting. She also turned down his invitation to watch the preview in Hyderabad.
Suri's followers are also keeping their fingers crossed on how their hero and his relative Obul Reddy are projected in the movie. Varma had met Sunita and also called on Suri in jail. He also visited Anantapur a number of times to shoot the movie.
The movie triggered a row much before the release with peace activists and NGOs opposing it on the ground that it could lead to a fresh spell of violence. They accused Varma of making factionist statements through the movie and appealed to the people to reject it.
Locals also raised objection to Varma using the name of the district in the film. The protests forced him to change the name to Anandapuram. Paritala Ravi was allegedly gunned down in Anantapur town Jan 24, 2005, by Suri's followers.
Suri had earlier made an attempt to kill Ravi in 1997 at the Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. Though Ravi escaped unhurt, 25 people were killed and many injured in the bomb blast.
Anantapur district is part of the backward Rayalaseema region, notorious for factional killings. Factions backed by political parties have been engaged in bloody battles for decades for supremacy in villages, especially in Anantapur district.
The factionists are notorious for the merciless manner in which they eliminate their rivals. More than 500 people have been killed in the factional violence over the past 15 years.