The New Age Telugu Cinema | The 70 mm Journey
You guys watch movies, don’t you? It is fair to say you wouldn’t be here if you don’t have the slightest knack for them. If you’re in your twenties, you would have grown up witnessing a transforming world, as is with the cinema. Same as any other major movie industry of the country, Telugu cinema went through similar transitions in its 87-year journey. We now stand at a point where the new wave is at its prime – where the new age Telugu Cinema is at its prime. Hey guys! I’m here this time to take you through the 70 mm journey of Telugu Cinema from conventionally stereotypical templates to the so called new age cinema. Let’s not go too far into the past Let’s first compare the new age movies to the most recent trend we had. Sorry, we have. From nearly three to four decades, Telugu cinema has been an ardent advocate of the hero-centric commercial movies. You know them… movies where the protagonist beats the pulp out of 20-30 goons one at a time without having any significant martial arts or boxing skills; where he jumps into a dance number or item number halting the screenplay for a few minutes; where he owns the whole story portraying characters larger than life; and where music and comedy are used just as recreational reliefs rather than fitting elements of the plot they ought to be. – Sorry sir, I can’t see.
– Jhakaas! Now we are not complaining here. We too get high watching such movies. We cheer, we laugh and we whistle much like anyone else amidst the chaos of a full housed theatre. As movies are often considered a medium of escape from an otherwise monotonous routine, a person surely deserves entertainment after a laborious day. To that purpose, Telugu Cinema has always catered to its audience. It isn’t until we look at our place in the arena of world cinema, that we are made to step back and think – our movies may excel in stories, *crowd starts cheering in anticipation* but they lag behind in the technical translation of the artistic aspects of a film. *cheering dies down* This is where the new age Telugu cinema shines. These new age movies are set apart from the mainstream movies. They try to bring in a fresh experience to the audience and are rooted in practicality. Influx of new actors, rise of metro centric and middle class themes, and a slightly more versatile set of storylines are the major factors responsible for this new wave. These films are often breezy, break clichés, and are technically superior too. Above all, these are the movies that are made by passionate filmmakers who observe and study films, of course not necessarily in film schools. So, who tried to change the way things were and give new experience to the viewers? Did the film makers who did try different formulas since the 90s create a new path for coming of age movies? Did they succeed? While some claim Teja’s raw and rustic romance dramas showcased using fresh faces from the early 2000s to have commenced this new trend, some may argue the reason to be Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s thrillers, which again, were made with fresh faces. We believe that the saplings of the new age cinema were sown by Ram Gopal Verma long before, very much in the early 90s. His movies broke the traditions of Telugu cinema both on paper and in execution. People witnessed movies that were characterized by fresh and unusual scenes, and new narrative techniques; and proved repeatedly that unconventional ways of storytelling can yield a commercial success too, provided the story be told in the right way. *making noise from mouth while firing gunshots* *continuing to make noise despite firing blank shots* The momentum was later carried by Krishna Vamsi for a while. But the trend of new age movies never really took off. As the star-led action movies were raining gold, the producers were reluctant to make movies that didn’t conform fully to this commercial template. There were still few directors and actors who fought for attention and success though, amidst all the noise the commercial movies were making. Directors like Sekhar Kammula, Krish, Mohan Krishna Indraganti, Teja and Chandrasekhar Yeleti remained firm in their intentions for over a decade, and have contributed to their own flavour of the new age cinema throughout their filmography. This definitely encouraged more filmmakers to pursue the new age cinema leading to a steady rate of their production currently. In the age of nepotism in movies actors like Nani, Sharawand, and Nikhil have thrived in their long careers. While sticking reasonably closely to the commercial aspects, they often devoted their efforts to bring out fresh content through their movies. One of the more recent notable additions to this list is Vijay Devarakonda, which did have an impact on Telugu audience to be more open to such non conventional scripts. Who would’ve thought that a low budget film ‘Pellichoopulu’ with lacklustre grandeur and virtually no star cast would go on to become the huge success that it did? Not until this Tharun Bhascker directorial did the producers start considering Short Film makers seriously for full length feature films. The impact of this phenomenon was such that Vijay Devarakonda’s movie ‘Arjun Reddy’ with Sandeep Reddy Vanga which turned him into a star overnight, made every other film maker rethink their scripts and sent a clear message that Telugu filmmakers don’t need to have the compulsion to conform to a pre-existing norm anymore. – The people who don’t know our language, – and the other classes – tell them this. – I can’t go myself to every class to repeat the same. We’ve had movies bombing at box office despite a fat budget owing to a poor script. Big budget doesn’t guarantee a great movie, and recent films have proved that content is the primary driver for the outcome of a movie to do well. Better outcomes can be achieved with minimal resources but only with a good leverage of them. Movies like Kshanam, Goodachari, and Arjun Reddy can be the prime examples of grossing two to four times their original budgets. Even some big production houses are coming forward to distribute and publicise the well-made smaller films, for providing them a wider reach among the audience. This is being a great help for the new age movies in their financial returns. The impact of online media grew stronger with the entering of online streaming services to business, which turned out to be surprisingly popular platforms to watch films. Gone are the days when one had to wait for months to watch a movie after its run in theatres. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar etc. not only provide an easier access to the new age cinema, but also contribute to profits for the producers of these small-scale films. Additionally for the couple years, these platforms helped gain audience from the non Telugu-speaking states. Few movie lovers started watching movies with subtitles on these paid services, while the ridiculously named and dubbed commercial movies found their audience in youtube. – It was a one time offer, and it has expired. – And now, you too will get expired. *whistling in a frenzy*
– Super!! – Shut up and sit down, you idiot!
*laughter among the audience* As we are still in the wave of new age Telugu cinema, there is a lot of scope for totally versatile experimentation. Who knows we might stumble upon a different formula for cinema altogether At the end of the day, we all are just movie lovers, and as long as good movies keep coming out, we’d keep fully supporting Telugu cinema. Agreed?
Happy movie watching everyone!!!