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Open letter to Telugu film industry
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29th December 2005
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Open letter to Telugu film industry

The writing on the wall is clear to any sensible person who can read and understand. It was in the coming for some time, but 2005, confirmed it, the Telugu movie industry faces it's biggest crisis and is in a serious terminal condition. So far we were in denial mode regarding this, as movies somehow managed to be successful, but for how long can you stop the cracks from bursting. And burst they did with mighty force, creating a flood that has swept away every star's, producer's and director's ego away. For too long these super egoistic bunch of people were ignoring the warning signs, and preferred to side step over it. But as the saying goes, you can fool some of the people, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. The rot started in January 2005, when NTR's much hyped Na Alludu crashed at the box office ,leaving it to a much smaller Nuvvostavante Nevoddantana to create an impact. And as if on cue, lot of big budget ventures simply bombed miserably at the box office. Whether it was the top tier of Chiru, Nag, Balayya and Venky, or the second rung stars like Sreekanth, Jagapathibabu, Dr.Rajashekar, Raviteja or the much hyped youth brigade of Pavan Kalyan, NTR, Tarun, Uday Shankar none came through unscathed. The lesson of 2005 is simple and straight DON'T TAKE US THE TICKET PAYING PUBLIC AND AUDIENCE FOR GRANTED.

Its high time Telugu movie industry pulls up it's socks. Come on how long will you keep fooling people through paid anchors on TV telling every one how wonderful your movie is? Do you think that the audiences are so stupid, that they can't make out? Please stop this annual tamasha of trying to promote your movies on TV, through your paid persons there. You are becoming a laughing stock of every one out there. 2005 had just a handful of hits. Among the big budget movies only Bhadra, Bunny ,Attanokadde, Sankranthi, Atadu, Chatrapati and Andhrudu did well. It was the year of the dark horses like Prabhas, Kalyan Ram, Gopichand and Rajeev Kanakala. It was the year when movies with small budgets and stars like Nuvvusthonante Neevodantana, A Film By Aravind and Anukokunda Oka Roju did pretty well. It's time stars concentrated on scripts rather than marketing gimmicks. All of them have been in the industry for so long and it's surprising that they are not able to distinguish between a good and bad script.

Time was when every decade had strong heroines dominating the scene. In the 50's & 60's we had Savitri, Jamuna, B.Saroja, Anjali Devi, Krishna Kumari. In the 70's we had heroines like Sarada, Vanisree, Jayasudha, Jayaprada, Lakshmi, Sridevi coming up while the 80's saw rise of heroines like Vijayasanthi, Bhanupriya, Suhasini, Radhika, Sridevi. Even during the 90's when heroine oriented movies were rare we still had heroines like Ramya Krishna, Roja, Soundarya standing up to the heroes and competing with them on even keel. All the above mentioned heroines had a long life, and were active for more than 10 years. Sridevi, Jayasudha, Jayaprada all made their movie debuts in the 70's but were active even in the 80's and to some extent in the 90's too. And there was a definite hierarchy among the heroines, you had Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 heroines. In sharp contrast from 2000 onwards, the Telugu cinema heroine seems to have become as endangered a species as the tigers in Indian forests. Remember the song from the 1996 hit movie Pelli Sandadi, where the hero's dream girl is compared with most of the main heroines of the day, if some body were to write such a song today, he would find it tough to find even 2-3 heroines as comparison. All we have today is a slew of imports from Mumbai or Delhi, most of whom wear skimpy dresses, cant act to save their lives and have to depend on dubbing for they don't even know the language. There were few heroines like Bhumika Chawla, Shreya, Richa Pallod who give the occasional good performance but are soon forgotten. And you have some so called lucky mascot heroines like Arati Agarwal, Anjala Jhaveri who are in top demand following a slew of hits but a couple of flops and most are relegated to sidelines. It's a miracle if a Telugu movie heroine is able to stay in the public memory for even a year. And the day might not be far off, when we would say "There was once a Telugu movie heroine". Most of these Mumbai, Delhi imports are no better than B Grade heroines in Bollywood, but here we treat them like royalty.

And that reminds me, whenever we ask why we are not taking talented people, producers and directors shoot back saying where is the talent. Well let me give one example, Vikram was very much a Telugu boy, and he had to struggle for years with B Grade movies, and lesser talented actors getting the bigger roles, thanks to their lineage. He switched over to Tamil movies, and now apart from being a super star there, he is also winning National Awards and is considered the next successor to Kamal Hassan. And for all those who talk of talented Telugu heroines not being available, Abhirami is very much a Telugu girl, but due to lack of opportunities she had to shift to Tamil, where apart from being one of the leading stars, she has also won accolades for her performance in movies like "Virumandi". One of this year's best movies Iqbal is directed by Nagesh Kukonoor, who is as much a Telugu person as you and me are. We have the talent right in our midst, but the bitter truth is we don't know how to use that talent. Of course how can we, when we are busy licking the boots of untalented sons/daughters of actors/producers/directors or importing totally worthless females from Mumbai & Delhi. Isnt it an irony that Vikram who was considered a B Grade hero by our knowledgeable Telugu movie pundits, has the biggest success "Aparichitudu" this year? Isnt it ironical that some of the year's biggest hit movies are dubbed ones like "Chandramukhi", "Ghazini", "Premiste"? Cant our Telugu movie script writers come up with a single original story? Why does every watchable movie have to be a remake of some Tamil or Mallu or even Kannada movie? Its not that we don't have talent, we have some of the best talent, but our producers/directors are not willing to look for it.

2002 was Bollywood's worst year and a lot of good came from it, in that producers there finally accepted that their formula was not working, will 2005 do the same for our Telugu movie industry? Will all our Mega, Super, Rising stars or Kings come out of their ego trap and stop taking the audience for granted? I am hoping that 2006 would be better, but before that I shall end with my wish list for 2006.

1. No more promotion of flop movies on TV, stop it once for all.
2. Heroines who can actually speak Telugu.
3. New actors who are not some producer/director/distributor's son or daughter.
4. Less of Mumbai/Delhi imports and their irritating attempts to speak Telugu.
5. Villians who can speak Telugu, less of the Mukesh Rishis, Ashish Vidyarthis with their hamming, we want our Rao Gopal Rao's and Satyanarayana's.
6. And finally not to be mentioning points 1-5 again at the end of 2006.

Ratnakar Sadasyula
[email protected]

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