Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why telugu cinema disgusts me

I must say I have watched my share of Indian movies in the past.  However, over the last few years the share of Indian movies in my movie-viewing pie has gone down considerably, reaching an almost nothing. More particularly, I must say that telugu movies really disgust me.  The last few that I had watched enabled me to really reflect on why this disgust really came about.

First and foremost, the violence in mainstream telugu movies in almost unbearable.  I remember watching a movie called Gajini with a friend a few years ago. Characters in the movie were shown slaughtered as if they were no more than chicken.  It was disgusting to watch the blood being spilt - although, I know it was for cinematic effect those scenes caused a visceral reaction in me.  I could not believe it when I saw parents with little kids in the theatre.  Are Indian cinema-goers just immune to this onscreen violence?  Many studies have shown that continuous exposure to fictional violence is detrimental to the proper development of kids. Telugu cinema in particular does not seem to believe so.  Faction movies, gangster movies, college violence is a rage - do movies reflect the society, or do they shape it? I am not sure, but I do think these are reinforcing each other.

Second, and no less important is the treatment of women in telugu cinema.  On on hand, we have the industry stalwarts going on record saying telugu cinema is great, artsy and that it has contributed so much society. Yes, maybe there are a few gem of a movies once in a while.  However, the mainstream trend is to treat women with utter disrespect.  It is not uncommon for the lead actress to have a meaningless role in the movie.  She is dumb, has little imagination or ambition, and all she is allowed to do is dress pretty and wait for the hero to take care of her.  Nothing can be farther from the truth, when you consider how women in andhra are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the telugu society.  You look around, and one of the striking features of professional life in andhra is the increasing number of women on the job.  And, how does telugu cinema celebrate this rise of women - by portraying them as pretty damsels in distress.  To add insult to injury, most male characters in the movies treat the women characters with utter disrespect.  Industry leading male actors have to take a look at the characters they portray and how those characters treat women more carefully. 

Telugu cinema has a rich history - of having a role in shaping the telugu society of the fifties and the sixties.  Great movies questioned social evils, and some even provided plausible solutions.  These solutions did not always involve killing the bad guys in gory violent showdowns.  Women were treated with respect and were shown as intelligent caregivers. The state of telugu cinema now is outright disgusting and does not deserve any support from society. It is neither art and whosoever even watches such movies are probably guilty of perpetuating the evil that comes with it.

Unless a change comes from within telugu cinema cannot change.  There must be a way of making classy, relevant movies that are a celebration of the culture that gives rise to such art - yet, being commercially successful. Unless this happens, telugu cinema will merely remain a form of entertainment that is a purely fictional, fantasy ridden noisy affair that it no
longer relevant.

1 comment:

Sanjeev said...

They're still making similar movies, huh!

I remember the rash of telugu/tamil movies remade into hindi (nagarjuna movies etc.)...full of college gang-war and aaj-ka-gundaraj... etc! Cannot believe they are still making such movies! Stuck in a genre 20 years old, huh!