Vibrant Tollywood has much to learn from "Naa Bangaru Talli"

Vibrant Tollywood has much to learn from "Naa Bangaru Talli"
Vibrant Tollywood has much to learn from "Naa Bangaru Talli"
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Nitin B | The News Minute | November 24, 2014 | 4:55 pm IST

The Telugu film industry is abuzz with talks of the latest movie “Naa Bangaru Talli” which released on November 21 in AP, Telangana and other southern metro cities

The film which is based on a true story of sex trafficking is directed by Rajesh Touchriver and produced by his wife Sunitha Krishnan, who is a renowned child right activist and runs Prajwala, an anti trafficking organization.

The subject of the movie is harsh and shocking and the plot revolves around a father searching for his daughter who has been kidnapped by sex traffickers.

The film has already bagged three national awards and five international awards and has received a lot of praise.

This however, was not the case a few months ago for the duo who faced a ton of challenges in the various stages of the project. In this detailed interview to Rediff, they highlight the various things that had to be done.

Rajesh met various big producers with his script and they all told him to add “masala”, an item number and even change the climax but he refused to budge. When nobody agreed to produce the film, Rajesh and Sunitha decided mortgage their house and produce it themselves.

In a film industry that produces 200-300 films every year and has an annual gross figure of over 11 digits just by logic defying stunt scenes and objectification of women, what happens when Telugu filmmakers try to flow against the current and try to make socially responsible films?

The Telugu film industry has also produced the most number of films during the year 2013-2014. According to latest figures, Tollywood churned out 349 films in between April 2013 and March 2014 beating the 326 movies of Tamil and the 263 of Hindi.

The number of socially responsible films in comparison to the mainstream and commercial films that came out in the same time period is negligible.

“Firstly, there is no concept of Independent films in Tollywood” says Mahesh Koneru, a movie critic and an avid film watcher. “We can probably call them parallel films that cater to social responsibility”

Commercial films in Tollywood are known to make a lot of money. According to this list on IMDB, titled “Top highest grossing Telugu movies”, it is evident that there is a lot of money involved in these films with at least one movie crossing the 100 crore mark every year from 2009.

There are very few parallel films that come out every year in comparison to the bigger budget films. Mahesh also says “Most of the people just want bang for their buck. They would like to bring their family along on a weekend to a theatre and just watch an entertaining movie to forget all their worries.”

He adds that not many people are willing to sit down and watch a serious movie with their full attention. “The audience for the social films is very limited and the film makers themselves can only make a few movies before they go bankrupt trying to produce it on their own.”

According to Mahesh, the film makers should try using creative marketing strategy to get recognition. “The films have to stop being perceived like Telugu films and should try to cater to audiences besides Telugu speaking people. It should try to get the message through to people in other states too. Only then can this concept of Independent films come around.”

(Mahesh Koneru is the editor and a film reviewer at Release Day)

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