Discrimination exists in society in various ways, be it caste, colour, class or gender. While most mainstream Telugu films are commercial family dramas or action entertainers that rarely represent such issues, a handful of them have attempted to do so in the recent past. While not all of them may have been successful in getting it right, the effort still points to an interest among young filmmakers to discuss these issues on screen.
Palasa 1978: This film, which released in 2020 in theatres, addresses caste-based discrimination. Directed by Karuna Kumar, the film is set in the 1970s in an Andhra village, and showcases the caste practices prevalent there, including untouchability. It has been hailed as an important film documenting the Dalit resistance. It has several references to real life caste atrocities that have taken place over the years. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video.
C/o Kancharapalem: This 2018 movie addresses multiple forms of discrimination. The film, directed by debut filmmaker Venkatesh Maha, is considered to be one of the best films to have released in recent times. It narrates four love stories and each of them addresses discrimination on the basis of class, caste, colour, religion and even age. The film was shot with non-professional actions and won critical acclaim. It's available on Netflix.
Rangasthalam: This 2018 movie addressed caste discrimination and also has a hero with a disability. The movie, directed by Sukumar, is set in an Andhra village in the 1980s. The film has Ram Charan, Samantha Akkineni and Aadhi Pinishetty in significant roles. Ram Charan plays the role of Chitti Babu, a jovial villager with hearing impairment, who has a brother, Kumar Babu, played by Aadhi Pinishetty. Kumar Babu is killed by the local upper caste politician for falling in love with his daughter. The film also shows other forms of caste discrimination. It is available on Disney+Hotstar.
Dorasani: This 2019 movie addresses caste discrimination, and is directed by KVR Mahendra. It is set in the 1980s, in a village in Telangana. The story is about the love between the daughter of a landlord, Devika (Shivathmika), and Raju (Anand Deverakonda). Devika grows up in a highly protective household but falls in love with Raju who sees her during the celebrations of a festival. The events that unfold after this form the rest of the story. The film is available on Netflix.
Colour Photo: The film released in 2020 on an Over-the-Top platform and became a talking point on social media. It addresses caste and colour discrimination. Directed by Sandeep Raj, the film is set in the late 1990s, and revolves around the love story of a young couple, Jayakrishna (Suhas) and Deepthi (Chandini Reddy). Deepthi's brother, Rama Raju (Sunil), is obsessed with beauty and colour, and does not approve of Jayakrishna as the latter is dark and from a poor background. The move is available on Aha.
Uppena: This film released in theatres in February 2021 and addresses caste discrimiantion. Directed by debut filmmaker Bucchi Babu Sana, it is set in a coastal village in Kakinada in the early 2000s. The film revolves around a young couple, Aasi (Vaisshnav Tej) and Bebamma (Krithi Shetty). Aasi is a Christian belonging to the fisherman community and he falls in love with the upper caste Bebamma. However, her father Raayanam (Vijay Sethupathi) is obsessed with the "honour" of his family and does everything possible to keep them apart. The film has also been criticised for its treatment of the hero, who is from an oppressed community, and is castrated for attempting sexual intercourse with an upper caste woman. And despite this brutality, the perpetrator, the heroine's father, is 'forgiven'. While the film is not available online yet, reports say that Netflix may release it on April 2.
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Watch Palasa 1978 trailer here: