Thursday, October 04, 2007

Culture and Telugu Cinema

Great classics were made in the sixties and seventies in Telugu Cinema. During its golden age, telugu cinema was a great medium to inform and educated the masses on social evils. Often, it offered sensible solutions to omnipresent problems in andhra society. However, with the eighties, such solutions evolved into violence against the perpetrators, and thus resulted in little or no value to society at large.

With large swaths of Andhra still in poverty, and illiterate, dowry deaths and other social evils are still present. Clearly, telugu cinema has failed miserably as a medium of social change. Many disagree with me on this issue, reminding me that cinema is more about entertainment and less about social change. I agree to some extent, but still feel that given the influence that cinema has on the masses, there has to be a sense of responsibility when solutions are being offered to social evils. It is very easy to provide a good description of the problems prevalent in society but a lot more difficult to offer sensible solutions. Cinema can be a rich descriptive medium but a poor prescriptive medium. If we look upto stalwarts such as Satyajit Ray, we realize that he possessed an uncanny ability to reflect on the life of his times. However, solutions to social evils was not his cup of tea, and rightly so.

Maybe, mass media does not possess the intellect to offer solutions to social evils. It should, therefore, stay away from doing this. Fortunately, movie-makers have stayed away from sensitive social issues - for understandable reasons. Often, parallel cinema is commercially not very successful and maybe it is for our own good that it stays that way. However, mainstream cinema should probably stick to its fantasy descriptions of things that have zero probability of happening in the real world. The status-quo seems acceptable. I appeal to the few idiots in telugu cinema who show implausible solutions to problems they really don't care about, but have only included in their movies for dramatic effect.

To me telugu cinema is a mere reflection of some aspects of andhra culture - specially that belonging to certain castes (I hate to use that word, but that IS the truth). For various reasons, historical or otherwise, popular cinema's view of andhra life is a reflection of certain communities and nothing beyond. It is a shame that andhra culture stands marginalized due to the inability of movie-makers to think beyond the obvious and imagine great possibilities.

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