Telugu Movies, Humor, Standards and Society
This week Bahubali has crossed the Rs 500 crore mark in terms of revenues. Indeed a great feat for a tollywood film. While the film is grabbing headlines for the revenues it has earned, it is also inviting criticisms from the most unexpected quarters. Recently there was a video that was made by a lady called Annapurna Sunkara. This video created a huge storm as she did not just criticize Bahubali for the bad depiction of woman but went on criticize the Telugu movies as such. The language that was used in the video also is objectionable. I did watch Annapurna’s Video and the responses to it. I did not take that one seriously as I had some doubts on the intent of that woman. Recently one of my friends, a woman whose views I hold in high regard posted an elaborate post on this. I responded to it. I liked my response and thought that it would make a good blog post. Here is it. Here are my two cents on the subject and the various view points on it. It is a long one, read it when you have time.
1. Coming to Bahubali and Prabhas-Tamanna episodes. Here Tamanna is a warrior girl and Prabhas is a boy from the woods. He is in love with her (Love at first sight …. nth sight etc stereotype ) and he would be disturbing Tamanna. Now, once they both meet each other, she too feels a pull and that pulls goes to an extent where she would not mind they becoming one . Then, when she is injured he owns her dream and risks his life for it. There are two things I see from this episode.
(i) the natural attraction that overpowers the will of a person . A trained warrior girl was not exposed to the feminine/emotional side of hers for a long time. When a man tries to rake it up, she attacks him and later gets attracted to him. Now, this can happen to a person, should this happen to a warrior probably no, can this happen? A definite yes.
(ii) Disrobing of a female lead on the screen. Lead or no lead disrobing is something that I oppose. Nudity existed in the English Cinema right from second world war era. We don’t have nudity per se but shirtless heroes and bikini clad heroines are becoming common place in the Indian Cinema too. Now, then there is an Imran Hashmi genre all together. They are doing all this and are saying that they are trying to bring in intensity. I saw a movie called “Malli Malli idi raani roju” Lot of Intensity in every scene and you would not see a single compromise on the dress of the leads. There are such movies coming up but they are not making it big at the box office. Whom should we blame for this ? When there are directors who bring in real creativity and show men and women in a very respectable way, why are we not watching thier movies? Why is it that violence and skin show get more revenue than emotion and drama? Did we change as a society? Aren’t we seeing our advertisements getting bolder and bolder ? The word condom was treated as a banned word while we grew up, today you see advertisements for the same. Isn’t this a depiction of a change in society?
Excessive violence, skin show and slang words actually play on the weaknesses of our mind. Some people for their vested interests and financial gains motivated us to give in to our weaknesses. In the name of liberalization, in the name of freedom, in the name of empowerment we were made to do all this. We ought to understand that there is a huge cost involved in a cinema. (even a low budget cinema). Now, someone who is responsible for the financial results of such an investment is bound to play it safe and play on our weaknesses.
My conclusion on this Episode. The girl giving in to her emotions and becoming one with the man is a definite possibility. Then disrobing and the song on screen, could have been avoided. Rajamouli too played on the weaknesses of the masses and it is not desirable.
2. Portrayal of women in the Movies :
I would say that there two sides to the coin here. Bahubali, that had Avantika (Tamanna) also had Sivakami (RamyaKrishna) the de facto ruler of Mahishmati. She denies the kingdom to her own son, isn’t that a great depiction of woman . Her husband is shown as a weak and biased fellow and she fights all odds for the rajya dharma. Isn’t that a great depiction of a woman.
“Attarintiki daaredi” another movie that was cited in the video had 3 interesting women in it. Samantha the no-brainer type, happy go lucky girl, her elder sister a matured girl who has her choices and then her mom who is a fighter. The portrayal does not in any way do injustice to the woman , you have all sorts of people in the world. Now, you get to see all sorts people on the screen. Yes, we are moving towards a trend where a weak female lead is becoming a norm. There are directors who are breaking this norm, Pathasala, Malli Malli idi rani roju, Chinnadana nee kosam, Oye, Leader, Gabber Singh, Vinayakudu, Village lo Vinayakudu, Pilla Zamindar had female leads who stood up for the reasons they believed in. Then you have movies like Arundhati and Rudramadevi where the Protagonist is a woman. So again lets not generalize, if there is a female lead or a strong female character in a movie lets applaud. Let us celebrate and support the movies with strong women and women protagonists. Let us express our displeasure when we see that a female is portrayed as a mere object of pleasure. However, let us not generalize and blame that everything is going wrong.
3. Vulgar comments. Yes, this is a big concern as this becoming a tool for comedy. Some times the comments make it very difficult to watch stuff. Ali’s words make it tough for us to watch when he is at an audio launch or anything. This is some thing that must go away.
4. Degradation of Comedy . Yes, the comedy in the Telugu industry is going in a wrong direction. A few people are becoming a must in any movie for the sake of comedy. Some movies have comedy tracks that donot even contribute to the story of the movie. Then, the comedy is either derogatory or it is in a way in which it insults some one. This must go.
There is one point I would like to make in this regard. There was a comment that elders are being insulted to create humor. I do accept that this should not be the case. However, how do you portray a man/ woman who do not behave the way one needs to behave when he reaches certain age. Isn’t this a trouble? Showing them their place is a must, but hitting them is definitely not the best way to do it.
To Conclude :
We as the society need to ask some tough questions to ourselves. Are we giving in to our weaknesses. Is our self control withering? We who speak a thousand things about morality end up giving in to revealing dresses either in the name of masculinity or empowerment. We, who feel attacked when a character is made fun of, won’t think twice when the nation is insulted in some videos. We, who speak of equality don’t think for a second before grabbing a seat that marked as reserved.
Should we be too naive to believe that the lady(Annapurna Sunkara) who made that video and was not aware of the abusive language she was using. You use abusive language spontaneously, a video needs planning my dear. The points that were made by her were valid, would the video be a hit if she restrained herself from personal attacks? No, here the woman too did the same thing. She wanted a wider reach and thus made some comments that made the video sensational. This is the hypocrisy that we should let go of .
We ought to realize that movies are no longer becoming pieces of art. They are becoming an invest -ROI type business. This is not good. However, there is little that we as normal audience can do about. No amount of preaching would do any good to this. They would look at stuff that sells and sell it. Now, we as viewers too need to view this as a product. We ought to tell these moneymakers that the apples that are rotten are not acceptable no matter how good they smell.
Please share your opinions and thoughts on this.