A father and son are sitting on the dining table. The father having his daily dose of wine and the son looks at him, wishfully, drinking his own glass of bournvita with a monotonous effort. The father looks at him, seeing his son come of age, pours a glass of wine and nudges it towards him. The son wants to have it, but he is afraid, afraid of something new and decides to stick with his milk.
Tollywood, the second largest movie industry in India, is in the same position. For years now, it showed the signs of transforming into something different, something beautiful, something which was necessary. But right now, in the glorious era of corporationalism, where budgets reach dizzying heights and collections are soaring in the sky, Tollywood finds itself in one of the most dangerous situations it has ever been. No it is not under the threat of extinction (like the Kannada film industry ,no offence meant), but something worse-The threat of stagnation.
The later half of 2005’s has seen a tremendous inflow of cash into the tollywood. Big stars started getting big movies and the lesser one’s were pushed into the abyss of second rated films. Though the money has ensured a sky-growth in terms of technology, graphics and recording techniques, it also brought monopoly into the industry which changed into “if it is big then it is a hit,if it is bigger then it is a blockbuster.”
Remember the movies Khadgam,“7/G, Brindavan colony”, Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, Aithe, Missamma, the reason they were so memorable was because they were never made to be industry hits, they were a product of enthusiasm and support given to talented directors who wanted to do something new. Where do we find these kind of films now-a-days? All everybody hears is what is Mahesh Babu’s next signing, what is Pawan Kalyan’s next project, what is the budget of Ram Charan’s new movie? If everybody looks at how big a film is, then who is gonna enjoy what’s inside it. The director is busy making the film acceptable to all kinds of audience, the hero is busy to satisfy his fans, the producer is happy just to give as much fodder the film needs and the end product turns up to a mediocre dish served not to impress the people in front of the screen, but to maximise the number in front of the ticket counter.
Movies like Anukokunda Oka Roju, Aa Naluguru, Anasuya, dared to defy commercial standards and in the process also encouraged other directors to try something new. The period between 2004 and 2007 was the golden era of tollywood , when the fantastic four ( pardon me for the comparision
) were having a blast with movies like Shankar Dada Mbbs, Mass, Lakshmi Narasimha, Malliswari etc:, and small budget films like Mantra, A Film By Aravind, Chandamama, Mee Shreyobhilashi, gave the telugu film audience the spice of variety. But over the course of time, as money flowed in, diversity was flushed out. When was the last time you saw a horror movie in Telugu? When was the last time you wanted to watch a movie twice? When was the last time a scene of brilliance blanketed the hall with silence? Long-time no doubt...
It’s not that Tollywood hasn’t progressed. Movies like Anaganaga Oka Dheerdu, Sri Rama Rajyam etc: had world class art-work and broke new grounds in the technical departments, but they suffered from poor writing and acting. You can’t blame them as people are not ready to invest and work in such projects. Dividing the industry into two fields of big budget and small budget categories would not solve the problem as the reach of small budget films is not very high and limited financial resources would compromise various aspects of filmmaking. So what we need is the mixture of these two dimensions, we need Pawan Kalyan in a movie like Prema Katha Chitram, we need Venkatesh, Nagarjuna and Balakrishna come in terms with their age and mould their career’s like Amitabh Bachchcan. We need heroes like Ram Charan, Naga Chaintanya risking different genres , accepting multi starrers. We need change. And we will get it only by changing ourselves. Encouraging small budget movies is not enough, it’s high time to criticize the big budget movies which are nothing but a couple of songs and fights. How can you expect producers to risk their money if we continue to make these high budget movies block-busters?
K. Vishwanath changed the face of telugu film industry in 1970. The Viswanath of today is probably somewhere walking on the pavements of film nagar, with a script in his hand, going from producer to producer hoping his script would see the light of the day. For an industry which gave out movies like Maayabazar, SwathiMuthayam, Shankarabharanam, Anthapuramâ€¦. We deserve better.
Grow up Tollywood, have that glass of wine!