Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jottings : Slice of life - 65 ( Commercial Telugu Movies - My medicinal dose for fantasies and relaxation)

Jottings : Slice of life - 65 ( Commercial Telugu Movies - My medicinal dose for fantasies and relaxation)
For sheer entertainment, lavishness and unbridled sense of imagination on screen, there is nothing in Indian Film industry which can equal those that come from the land of Andra Pradesh. And I say this with all admiration, respect and regards I can muster. There is something about them that eludes definition or categorization. If all that I want on a cool, wintry evening is to be entertained, benumbed and taken on a fantasy filled journey , governed by virtually no rules, logic or conventions, then my choice would be to tune into a commercial Telugu feature film and stay hooked for three hours in utter disbelief and awe. Believe me, it can also be riveting and near timeless experience, if one can abandon expectations on how a film should be. I mean no offense or condescension here . Every now and then, I do give myself this lush, extravagant delight of losing myself completely in the web of Telugu movie. I come out of it energized and refreshed. An inner catharsis happens, cleansing me of painful arty abstractions my mind perpetually dwells in. Like an infusion of LSD, my doors of perception are cleansed, and start seeing things more clearly then before. If movies are meant to take away ones focus from daily mechanical chores, pains and suffering and uplift a man to a lighter world of inner freedom and carelessness, then Telugu movies are the best medicine. Not that other languages do not provide such entertainment; but none does it as consistently and with so much commitment as Telugu Film industry. My father used to say “ I love Telugu Films because everybody and everything in the movie is generally rich. Even a poverty stricken family would live in a house with six bedrooms and a hall as big as a stadium. And, most importantly, the ending will always be happy, even its a tragedy. You can be sure of that”. Paradoxical!!, but you are right Papa!!. That's why I love them.
My father incidentally was a great admirer of Telugu language, and he could speak the tongue quite well. And given the fact we were based out of Hyderabad for some time, I picked up the language as well. The eighties were the time, when Telugu film industry was really taking off with high budget productions shot in exotic locales with glamor and spice liberally sprinkled. Even before that era, it had the reputation of being mass entertainers. Actors from other regions would love to do a movie or two in Andhra, at least for the money and glory, if not anything else. Many actors also come to shores to Andhra to break their stereo types. Quite a few actresses, who would not wear anything less than a saree in other regional films, would surreptitiously act in a Telugu film in modern costumes to exorcise their ghosts. Anyway, What has stuck me as unique about Telugu cinema is the absolute seriousness of their intent in creating these extreme conceptions of entertainment. To an outsider, used to logic, structure and reason, Commercial Telugu movies can totally blow their minds away. It is an intentional effect. That is my point. The makers are fully aware of what they are creating, and they do so to the best of their ability keeping in mind one singular focus : unbridled entertainment and nothing else. The great thing about any art is once we decide to forsake conventions, then a world of possibilities open, and there is no need to apologize to anyone for anything. As long the audience can respond, empathize and believe , then it has found its mark. High nosed connoisseurs may smirk at the lack of artistic elements in commercial Telugu movies, but who cares? Movies theaters are packed, audiences love their heroes to be superhumanly superhuman (I am coining a new phrase) and most producers, if not all of them, make enough money. Even if they don’t, they dont mind going at it again and again. After all, Love of fun is infectious and deep rooted.
My quiet Thanksgiving Holiday was enlivened by a Junior NTR (the grandson of the Late NT Rama Rao) movie: “Nanakku Prematho” or “ To Father, with Love”. For some reason, I like Junior NTR films, just as I quietly enjoy his Uncle Balakrishna’s Movies. If one were to ask me, what this film is about, I would be uncertain. All that i can say with any amount of confidence is that it is about “Chaos theory” and its applicability in Human life. If Edward Lorenz, the weather scientist, who conceived this theory in 1962, was alive, and needed popularization of his theory, he wouldn't have found a better three hour capsule to showcase what he meant by Chaos to the common man. Chaos can quickly become a buzz word after watching this drama. The Movie is ingenious in conception. A father lies dying of a disease, confesses to his extra-intelligent son the reason for his financial downfall; son vows to bring the culprit to justice, woos his daughter in accordance with tenets of Chaos theory, and finally metes out justice. In between these four phases of the movie, we see slices of London, Spain, corners of Hyderabad with lavish sets, avant-garde clothing and style, foot tapping music, slick choreography, unimaginable stunts, crisp dialogues, overflowing money, melodramatic emotions, razor sharp brilliance and aptitude in the Hero, and above all, a carefree abandon to the flow and rhythm of wherever the movie cares to take us. I loved it..
Having said so much about fun In Telugu Movies, I must also remind myself and others that some of the most beautiful, meaningful Feature films in Indian languages have also come from this same land. Who can forget the artistic dramas of K Vishwanath : Shankarabharanam, Saagara sangamam, SwathiMuktyam, or the path breaking intensity of Ram goal Verma’s Shiva or frivolous brilliance of his Kshana Kshanam, or Mani Ratnam’s Geetanjali, or K balachander’s Maro charitra and Rudraveena, or Raghavendra Rao’s fantasies including my favorite “Jagadeka verudu Athiloka sundari” in which Sridevi sizzled like never before and after; and many, many others for me to find space to list. They have been trend setters for other regional films. My favorite Music Director Ilayaraja, has done some of his best work for Telugu cinema. And so have many other successful artists in many fields.
A few years ago, I remember reading an interview in a leading newspaper on one of the more successful heroines in cinema, not only in Telugu but other languages too. She made an important comment, which has remained with me ever since. She said “ the most respect I get as an artist - though in many films ,as you know, we dont really have too much to perform as an actor - is in the Telugu industry. Though, we appear in skimpy dresses, and generally flirt around with Heroes, I think , they take care of us with utmost respect and honor.. I love working in Telugu films, because I love the people I work with..”
None can disagree with that. The land, the language and its people are not merely sweet, but honorable, respectful and know how to reciprocate true friendship. I will continue watching Telugu films for that sweetness and joy they exude..
God bless…
Yours in mortality,

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