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Analysis Scoop Untold Stories Innerviews Research
Telugu Cinema - Past and Present
- Gudipoodi Srihari
(Exclusive for Idlebrain.com)
Gudipoodi Srihari

Continued from the part 1:


One who watches MOVIES of yester years on small screen, sitting at home realises that there has been something special about those old films that helped Telugu cinema attain glory. That was a golden period for Telugu cinema. Even those films that flopped at box office, at that time, hold our attention now on the small screen, purely because of the sincere efforts put in by the stalwarts of the past. Stories were prepared much ahead of shooting schedules. Screenplay and dialogue were kept ready before the film went to sets. Element of sincerity prevailed in making a film. So was the involvement of all the artistes and technicians. Scenes were rehearsed in advance. The word `quality' occupied their mind. A recapitulation of what went into Telugu cinema during its first fifty years will reveal heroic struggles of filmmakers, to render their product interesting and message oriented. As we move back into moorings of Telugu cinema, we feel proud of its achievements as some of them are pioneering.


The Andhra Pradesh State Government instituted an award for persons for outstanding contribution to the overall growth of Telugu cinema over years and named it after the late Raghupati Venkaiah, who is regarded as pioneer and is hailed as TELUGU CHALANACHITRA PITAMAHA. A look at his life reveals how he toiled to lay foundation to the film industry, right from his of 17, when he first took to photography. That was in the year 1886. In 1910 he got an imported Chromo Megaphone and some films of 4,000-ft length and began exhibiting them to the wonder sticken audience. It was Chris Green who invented a camera in 1887 that can take pictures with high speed, in a series. Later an American scientist by name Edison constructed a cine-projector, which he called Kinetoscope. It was Dadabhai Phalke who first made a silent film `Harischandra' in 1912 and exhibited. The silent film has no language and has universal appeal particularly if they are mythologicals or of Godmen. The life of Jesus Christ was the first English film Dada Sahib saw and got inspired by it and then came out with `Harischandra'. He released it in May 17, 1913. In order to stand the competition of theatre with plays running for six hours, he publicised his film saying that it had Fifty Seven Thousand photographs and was two mile long. The Phalke Distribution Company sent silent films like `Krishna Janma', `Kaleeyamardana', `Savitri', and 'Lanka Dahanam' to south as well as West.

This was also the time when Raghupati Venkayya was doing experiments in parallel. In fact he was ahead of the others. He belonged to a family of army men and was the brother of Raghupati Venkataratnam Naidu, well known scholar and reformer. After some experiments with Chromo Megaphone, it is said that he entertained King George the Vth. He also added sound to the visual. He equipped himself with a touring tent and began showing films to the audience. Encouraged by the response, he constructed a theatre at Madras in 1912 and named it Geity. He exhibited silent movies there. Construction of Crown and Globe theatres followed. He then sent his son Prakash to England to learn cinematography art. And Venkaiah constructed a studio, after Prakash's return, and named it Star of the East. He made GAJENDRAMOKSHAM, BHISHMA PRATIGJNA, NANDANAR AND MATSYAVATARAM - all silent movies. He launched Guaranteed Pictures Corporation and joined hands with A.Narayan of Tamil film field and launched General Film Corporation. With Narayana, he made silent movies - 'Viswamitra', 'Mayamadhusudana', 'Pandava Nirvahana' and 'Raj of Rajasthan'. Venkayya died at the age of 69, in 1929, but after passing over his knowledge and responsibilities to son Prakash.


Prakash became an actor too starring in BHISMA PRATIGJNA, made by his father. Thus he was forerunner among film heroes and directors. C.Pulliah and Y.V.Rao were his students who latter became legends themselves. A story is narrated about Prakash' capacity of deep observation. When he was working under Cecil Be De Mill, renowned film maker for his film TEN COMMANDMENTS, Prakash noticed immunisation marks for smallpox on the bare hand of one of the artistes and immediately brought it to the director's notice. This being period film, that too Biblical when such immunisation poke marks were not there, Cecil Be De Mill instantly acknowledged and appreciated Prakash. Pullaih's era like that of his guru Prakash, was an experimental one, himself doing unbelievable things with his camera, using it as a camera and then as a projector. He used to project the film on a white washed wall. Hence it earned the name as `Godameedi Bomma' (film on the wall). He made 'Bhakta Markandeya' in the vicinity of Kakinada with Kakinada Rajaratnam playing an important role. She was the first heroine of Telugu cinema.

To be continued.........
(Next Monday, Sri Gudipoodi Srihari will talk about Theatre Influence on Telugu Cinema and Nagaiah's Entry: Eventful Decade etc.)

Click here to read the interview of Sri gudipoodi Srihari

Tell Gudipoodi how you liked this article. Click here
More to come!
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