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23rd November 2005
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I write this piece pari passu. The current status of Telugu cinema reminds me of this story. The Emperors have no clothes.. in all probability would make many readers angry, because it's so obviously accurate. Off late, most of the film goers and critics alike experience a profound sense of ennui, watching majority of the Telugu films in the recent past. The paranoia that is created by the collective rejection of so many films by the audiences is a cause of grave concern that needs to be addressed A.S.A.P. Well I may be reading too much into it and everything must be hunky dory with the Telugu Film industry, but the basic objective of writing my views is not to exaggerate or manufacture a crisis by making sweeping statements or by generalizing things regarding the Telugu film industry. In the process of my observations which are solely mine, I may ruffle a few feathers, but then, that is what I intend to do.

In my opinion, the Telugu film industry is going through a slump. Nothing new at the outset, every film industry goes through low ebb. Fact-Hollywood survived the slump, courtesy films like Seven Samurai, Taxi driver, God Father, Apocalypse Now. Japanese, Polish, Iranian and closer home Tamil films have gone through this phase. But the fact of the matter is, that the Slump is not just at the box-office cash registers (except for a few flashes in the pan now and then, which necessarily are not as sensational as they are made out to be),but the slump of the ideas. Looks like the so called creative film makers have lost the sheen. ORIGINAL, INNOVATIVE, NEW AND DIFFERENT have been substituted by borrowed, copied, misused and teluguized versions of Hollywood and other wood films, both old and new and what sucks is the blatant acknowledgement of the same. To name a few that cross my mind at this point of time, SCARFACE, the climax of ITALIAN JOB, 2003 starring Mark Wahlberg and Oscar winner Charlize Theron, which in turn was based on a Michael Caine starrer 1969 film by the same name, traces of Blair witch project, Assassins, the presence of ramping shots in every second action sequence, the canted frames, name it and we have done it all. Inspirations are good when they remain so, but not when they try to emulate the original. The intelligent Telugu audiences have time and again reminded the Emperors that everything and anything can't be done in the name of creativity, in the name of Box-Office.

Now where are the brightest minds of Telugu cinema? Where are the original story writers? Have the creative juices of the Emperors drained up? Are the ideas running amok instead of making sense? Have the Emperors become complacent? Have they grown intolerant to criticism? Why don't they take criticism in their stride? Do they not believe in the fine art of disagreement? Do they agree to indulge in dialogue with those who disagree with them? Will the condescending attitude of the emperors who think that the audiences would watch anything that they make, going to change for the better in the near future? Why don't the emperors invest and dedicate more time in intellect (The plot, sub-plots, the conflict- Escalation and resolution) rather than the star casts and sky rocketing production costs.

When will the emperors realize that it's time to stop doling out suggestive soft-porn in the form of lyrics in few films, all for Pete's sake, in this case the mass (The jargon is another interesting factor - FEEL, AUDIEN OR AUDIENCE, Mass, Class, Youth, Ladies, I don't know what they call the inbetweeners - the middle class film going people) Children somehow are left out in the classification, may be because they don't matter much in the race and art of wooing. Woo their parents and they are wooed too. BUY 2 GET 1,2or3 FREE.

Now again the Emperors and their staff are know -all, no doubt or scope for doubting thomasses or critics or those who question logic or talk sense. The know-alls think they know all, what formula would work with which section of the classified audiences? Only brownnosers survive, people who feed the emperors ego survive. Only they survive, and the ones, whose intelligence is put to test, are branded loony critics. Now hardly do the emperors and their ilk, realize that the formula magic wand doesn't work anymore? It's too old and brow-beaten. New ideas, new talent has to be given a chance. Not just an opportunity to make films, but to set a trend and swim against the tide. Now the last time, it happened was, when Ram Gopal Varma made his ground-breaking Telugu film. Mere acceptance of the flaws will not serve any good; lot of understanding, learning and thought process has to go into it. Fragile egos have to be shed, and a scope for dialogue, discussion, disagreement has to be facilitated. The Audience has to be shown new and original ideas. The Audience watch all kinds of films that are shown to them, Good, Bad, Average and until and unless the Emperors come up with new ideas, how are they to know if that particular idea will be appreciated or not?

It is not as easy as it sounds but then if it happened with Tamil films, I am sure it can happen with Telugu films too. But all of this will happen only when we face the reality and when the curtains are pulled back and when the Emperors would step in front of the mirror and when they realize and believe that they are indeed without any clothes.

Stalin -
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