In The Armchair

Telugu Cinema and Maturity

Posted in Movies and Entertainment by Armchair Guy on September 30, 2007

Something has been wrong with Telugu cinema for a while. A long time ago, especially during the black-and-white era, the films used to be great. The acting was theatrical rather than realistic in those days, but the stories were good and the films were coherent. Sometime in the 70s or 80s, films in the Telugu industry took a turn for the worse. To be fair, this happened to all Indian films… late 80s Hindi films are often unwatchable. But around the end of the 90s, Bollywood began redeeming itself. Most of the films are still incoherent and meaningless, but they began making a few really good ones.

The Telugu industry still seems stuck in the 80s mold of incoherent, shark-jumping plots, gratuitous violence, and songs that are jarringly out of place. Instead of improving, the Telugu industry seems to be getting worse. The violence is more mindless, the plagiarism and stitching together of individual scenes from Hindi and Hollywood films has reached a point where some films feel like incoherent patchwork, and even the Telugu language is being massacred in many of the recent ones. The Telugu industry has also not realized the importance of theme music in a film (i.e. the background score, not the songs).

Examples of this include Pokiri, which is full of unrealistic and meaningless violence. Maaya Bazaar, a recent film (not related to the original), is a movie with a decent idea but is poorly directed, full of maudlin sermonizing and silly fight scenes. Aite is a recent film with a good idea but ordinary execution and very poorly spoken Telugu. Gajani is a rip-off of the Hollywood movie Memento, but is poorly executed and seems a little irrelevant in the Indian situation.

Perhaps it is silly to blame the industry, which is simply producing what the people want. But I believe it must be possible to make a popular film that is also good from a theoretical, critical viewpoint. Bollywood has done it, and the Tamil industry is following suit. That Telugu cinema can do it is evidenced by the large number of excellent movies produced in the past, and the occasional blips of excellence like Godavari. It is time Telugu cinema pulled itself out of the 1980s morass.

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