witnessed dramatic transformation over its seven-decade's history.
It is something like rise and fall of hopes and everytime it gets
revived, like the fortunes of the artistes, technicians and other
personnel associated with film making directly or indirectly.
After some lean period, revival is round the corner again, moving
with the ever-changing technological progress. At one time it
is thought cinema has become threat to the theatre and other forms
of stage entertainment. Today cinema is facing the challenge of
small screen adorning the drawing rooms of houses. Some traditional
and known producers are sitting on sidelines hoping for good old
days to return. The active filmmakers and distribution and exhibition
sectors await sops from government, in the form of changes in
the structure of entertainment tax relief. There is threat for
exhibition sector and some theatres are already closed and converted
into marriage halls or given for real estate development, which
appears to be better business than leasing out for film exhibition.
lies not only in escalating production cost, but also in the drained
creative minds to work behind the film. Besides, the cost of viewing
a film is high. At one time, cinema was being described as cheap
entertainment. But today cheapness lay in its quality not in spending
for film viewing. The theatres enjoy freedom to enhance admission
rates. Some raised almost three times of those existing a few
years ago. The tariff for vehicle parking, snacks and beverages
are hiked and unchecked. Television nullified inevitability of
cinema. Producers often say that audience taste is unpredictable.
These days a film is either hit or flop. No average run like in
olden days. Producers concentrate on making films to attract youth,
because they believe this section is the only floating audience
who visit a theatre repeatedly, while other age groups enjoy small
screen in their drawing rooms. With the advent of Television channels
screening films and film-based programmes, producers began searching
for themes to attract youth. Their choice is love story. The relationships
are built strangely. The trend began with PREMADESAM screened
three years ago. It is a Telugu dubbing of a Tamil hit, which
also eventually ran for more than two hundred days. Two boys love
the same girl and end up with all the three deciding to stay as
friends. The film's musical impact and the treatment being refreshing,
it drew repeat audience, mostly youth. Since then, love themes
are practically flooding the screen. The new millennium opened
with such films like YUVAKUDU directed by A.Karunakaran, of `THOLIPREMA'
fame, Pawan Kalyan (Chiranjeevi's younger brother) starrer. Yuvakudu
is given patriotic twist in the end. CHITRAM directed by Teja
for producer Ramoji Rao is latest craze. It aims at projecting
two points: one the need for sex education to teenagers and two:
to draw line between infatuation and love. The infatuation sometimes
leads to true love. That is what the film shows. The significant
feature is that it is a low budget film, introducing new faces.
Its impressive success at box office is an eye opener. Hence,
this film is trendsetter too.
A look at
success of films like `Chitram' reveals that audience these days
are not bothering who the artistes are. If it is a love story,
they prefer new faces of the same age group of the character created
to play it. Gone are the days when NTR and ANR played lover boys
in their Sixties.
is the emergence of family legacy with seniors introducing their
juniors to the field. Sumanth, the lead artiste of YUVAKUDU is
ANR's grandson and Nagarjuna's nephew. Pawan Kalyan is Chiranjeevi's
younger brother and Maheshbabu; another star on the rise, is Krishna's
youngest son. Kalyan continues his sway on the audience with his
latest release `KUSHI'. Mahesh displayed skilful acting right
as a child artiste in the film KODUKULU DIDDINA KAAPURAM. He reappeared
as a teenager on the screen, after a decade, in the film RAJAKUMARUDU
directed by veteran Raghavendra Rao. Mahesh proves a natural artiste
among the present generation. However, it is fight for survival
for all. This phenomenon is not new only to Telugu cinema. Hindi
and other language films too have this trend. Only a few came
up on their own, by sheer talent and a pinch of luck. But what
surprises one is the way the new generation is edging out the
immediately old. This practice of kin getting promoted by their
elders began with Balakrishna, Nagarjuna and venkatesh. But they
proved worthy to be able to stand on their own.
In the flow
of changing times and fortunes, Krishna and Sobhanbabu followed
NTR and ANR almost with the same image. And Krishnamraju, Chiranjeevi
and Mohanbabu followed them. There is constant search for young
and fresh talent. And nobody bothers about heroines, most of who
come from Tamil, Kannada and Hindi fields. Unlike in olden days,
it is difficult to count on native talent among heroines.
Another development, these days, is the emergence of young talent
even among directors too. The old timers are yielding place to
fresh talent, coming with new ideas and mental equipment. Some
of them are Tamil directors who came along with films they made
in their mother tongue. The Telugu cinema is importing them along
with subjects. This phenomenon is particularly noticed during
the last three years. At times the Telugu cinema is facing identity
crisis, because films are made in two or more languages to meet
mounting costs of film production, estimated to be between 1.5
to 10 crores. Dubbed films are surpassing the number of straight
makes. The number of straight makes in the year 1999 stood at
66 films, while 70 dubbed films were released.
While the artistes like Krishnamraju, Chiranjeevi and Mohanbabu,
represent third generation heroes, Balakrishna, Nagarjuna, Venkatesh,
Suman, Rajasekhar, Srikanth, Jagapatibabu and Srihari represent
the fouth generation. Mohanbabu, Srikanth and Srihari are all
villains-turned-heroes. For that matter Chiranjeevi was also figuring
in negative roles initially. Jagapathibabu, son of noted producer
V.B. Rajendra Prasad, is also a hot choice for filmmakers with
complex family love themes. Naveen Vadde, son of another producer
is struggling presently to find his feet, though he is talented.
times brought in a host of new directors, who include Arun Prasad
who made hit film `Thammudu' with Pawan Kalyan, Chandra Mahesh
(Preyasi Rave), Sasi (Seenu, a remake of `Sollamale'), Poori Jagannadh
(Badri), Teja (Chitram). At one time producers banked on good
story line. Today it is characterisation that is important. Prime
objective is to engage audience with entertainment, refreshing
humour and mellifluous music. Weird voices are making their way
into playback system, drawn from Hindi Tamil and Malayalam fields.
We rarely listen to S.P.Balasubrahmanyam these days. The Telugu
language is the first victim of these non-Telugu voices, barring
Chitra who sings like a typical Telugu girl. "But who bothers"
asks a producer. "It is present trend and is an indication
to the changing audience taste. The more a song sounds bizarre
the more attractive it is." Says he. There is no difference
between a dubbed film and an original. The dialogues are dubbed
by dubbing groupes. Story and situations are in step with changing
times. Some producers and directors are banking on computer graphics.
Kodi Ramakrishna's AMMORU is trendsetter. This technical asset
made it a resounding success. DEVI also by the same director and
a 1999 release was a box office hit.
is greatly worried over the general decline of quality and also
quantity of Telugu cinema and its poor performance at box office.
The Industry demands the government to waive entertainment tax.
For films made in A.P. and charge five percent on films made outside
A.P. Buyers hesitate to advance money. They have no confidence
on filmmakers these days.
(Next Monday, Sri Gudipoodi Srihari talks about Glorious
past, Raghupati Venkayya, Prakash etc.)
here to read the interview of Sri gudipoodi Srihari