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Reviving Telugu Film Industry - Ten easy steps
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14th October 2005
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Reviving Telugu Film Industry - Ten easy steps

This year has been undoubtedly one of the worst years in the industry for some time. I am partly happy that this will atleast knock some sense into the Telugu filmmakers and also unhappy that the forthcoming movie announcements of the top actors seem to more of the same nonsense we have been getting. There are some drastic measures needed for the industry to come back to its glory days. Ten steps which i envisage in this direction are as follows:

1. Have only Telugu heroines or even other language heroines who can speak Telugu without dubbing. This is an absolute must. The past few years have seen an increase in the number of artistes without voices, whether villains or heroines. The reason for this is partly explained in point 2. Another reason is that our aging heroes have a need to indicate their undying vigor through fresh heroines leading to a constant churn in actresses.

2. Stop making hero elevation movies - a la Rajamouli and VV Vinayak movies. The problem is that once you have elevated the hero in a movie to great heights, it would be difficult for him and the audience to digest him taking the elevator back down to play a normal character later on. Actors like Nagarjuna, Venkatesh, Chiru etc. never had such "hero elevation" movies in their earlier days. Even Shiva for all its glory is not a hero elevation movie. Hero elevation has had many perverse influences - mainly on actresses and villains. Because of this need for hero elevation, the directors want to use other language heroines indicating that even a North Indian girl can fall our hero again elevating the hero's image. If you have, say, someone like Jayaprada nowadays you can't build the hero's image. But you have a "not a patch on Jayaprada/ Sridevi's looks" girl like Shriya, Charmi, etc. you can blow up the character just because they are North Indians. This shows a deep lack of self-respect and inferiority. Same is the case with villains and say actors like Mukesh Rishi who can't get a half-decent Hindi movie.

3. Stop using singers like Udit Narayan, Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Goshal etc. who can't pronounce the language. It started off as an experiment and let it be that way. It can't be the norm.

4. Be honest in appraising ourselves. Honesty in facing the facts would only lead to solutions. Do not fool ourselves by jokers shown on film news on TV, none of whom is shown claiming that a movie is bad. Only when we stop such hypocrisy on the media front would there be an early chance for improvement.

5. Our music desperately needs improvement. Our last real musical hits were only probably when R.P Patnaik was around until he started using himself as a singer too much. Music Directors like Mani Sharma again are good only for your hero elevation mass music. Tamil film industry has had good MD's come out even after Rehman like Harris Jeyraj, Vidyasagar, Yuvan Shankar etc. Keeravani gives amazing music for Hindi movies like Sur but his music in Telugu is like that for Chatrapati - pointless. Vidyasagar was not patronized by us and he has become one of the top MDs in Tamil. Devi Sri was good for movies like Varsham till the system got to him. Music drives audiences to the theatres. We need some desperate renovation there.

6. Give popular awards to movies like Anand, A Film By Arvind, Aa Naluguru, Grahanam etc. Only then would sense creep into fans and actors about their true standing. This year's Nandi awards were a step in the right direction.

7. Top heroes need to act in more movies. When top Hindi heroes like Shahrukh can act in around 2-3 movies a year, why do our heroes act in only 1 a year. Again our actors are under the misapprehension that acting in more movies would dilute their image and their brand value.

8. Encourage innovate stories and story telling. Which was the last top hero movie with a really different storyline (exclude remakes here). You are left scratching your heads. There are lots of nice stories out there waiting to be told. You just have to dig deep.

9. Our heroes need to be more versatile. In all his movies so far Mahesh Babu, Pawan Kalyan etc. have portrayed similar kind of role. While in Tamil for instance take someone like Surya who in is last few movies has changed his role and appearance in every movie of his - Kakha Kakha, Pithamagan, Peralagan, Mayavi, Ghajini etc. At just 30, Surya has had already had such a great body of work. Of course Surya is a more complete actor than the aforementioned. That is a different debate however. Once you have actors change their appearances and roles regularly that takes care of the earlier issue about brand dilution because every time you are a different character. It is a pity we are just sinking into the morass. After Athadu, we have had Mahesh Babu make statements that he will stop doing experiments from here on. What a pity.

10. Reduce budgets. Spend more on stories and screenplays, not on sets and foreign locations for songs. You did not need that temple set for Arjun. That was Rs3 crore straight addition to the bottomline. Understand what is important to the movie.

So there we go. Ten easy steps, but 12 months down the line I bet we will be back discussing the same issues.

Vamshidhar Guthikonda
mr.vam[email protected]

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