Telugu cinema has been going through an exciting phase and we have been witnessing a radical change in movie making. The filmmakers are showing interest to experiment with genres than ever before and eventually mana cinema is breaking the shackles and gaining its prominence exponentially on global and national stage. 2017 has been an eventful year as the syntax of cinema has changed the course of Tollywood which has an annual turnover of an estimated Rs 1,600 crore. As the movie-viewing pattern brought a revolutionary change with the audience having the appetite for watching novelty in content, Telugu cinema is now a platform which inspires filmmakers across the world to push the envelope in storytelling, presentation and embrace all genres to be in the game.
Filmmaking is all about churning out good ideas and narrating refreshing tales. At a time when the budgets and the investments drive the industry, it has become a norm for the filmmakers to express a vision. It’s a promising time for Telugu cinema which has been in the forefront than Bollywood not only in the number of films made but also in its technical virtuosity.If you take a look at the films that performed exceptionally well this year, one would realise that large-scale productions and new-age stories are on the rise and the filmmakers didn’t constantly drift around the target audience.
The epic war drama franchise Baahubali has changed the tide, shed the image of regional cinema and also break the notion that our filmmakers can make only niche films. The film stands as a testament to the potential that we can create an avant-garde product. It has also demonstrated that our films can take on the mighty Hollywood on its own terms and banished the myth that Indian cinema is not just Bollywood.
Baahubali: The Conclusion had the biggest release ever for an Indian film when it hit the marquee on April 28 in more than 9,000 screens (6,500 in India alone) and has raked in over Rs 1,700 crore (all languages), shattering all records in India. Even eight months after its release, the SS Rajamouli-directorial is making headlines as it’s poised to land in Japan and Russia cinemas soon.
“Telugu cinema has grown tremendously over the last decade. On one side, you see a Baahubali. On the other, you have full-on action dramas. I think the standard of Telugu cinema has gone up after Baahubali. Even Bollywood stars look up to Tollywood now,” says director AR Murugadoss.
The dominance continued with films like Shatamanam Bhavati, Duvvada Jagannadham, Nene Raju Nene Mantri, Fidaa, Jai Lava Kusa, SPYder and Ninnu Kori receiving a lot more attention. These films not only found pan-India release but also proved commercial power with good cinematic content.
The unprecedented success of debutant Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s coming-of-age black comedy Arjun Reddy also indicates as much. “Telugu cinema has been increasingly getting national and international recognition. Arjun Reddy has attained cult status and I could feel the euphoria even now. Recently, I have been to Visakhapatnam where I was surprised to see shopkeepers selling Arjun Reddy notebooks. It feels happy to see people celebrating a phenomenon called Arjun Reddy,” avers Sandeep Reddy Vanga.
When regional films are struggling to get their due, the recent list of IMDB’s top 10 Indian movies of 2017 gave us joy for many reasons. For the first time, the list was dominated by three Telugu films — Baahubali: The Conclusion, Arjun Reddy and The Ghazi Attack indicating the progress of our industry in the last few years. Sharing his joy, Sandeep Reddy says, “It’s a great feeling to see our Southern language films on top-rated Indian movies list. It’s surprising to see Arjun Reddy take the cake right after Baahubali: The Conclusion. I’m glad that Arjun Reddy has become the defining film of this generation.”
2017 also saw the nostalgic return of megastar Chiranjeevi with Khaidi No. 150 and the equally impressive Gautamiputra Satakarni from centurion Nandamuri Balakrishna. Both these landmark films divulged the attention of the audience across geographies. Hattrick hero Sharwanand had a roller coaster ride with his family entertainer Shatamanam Bhavati awarding the National award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.2018 is also starting off with a lot of hope. To begin with, Sankranthi will see the release of Pawan Kalyan-starrer Agnyathavaasi, Balakrishna’s Jai Simha followed by Anushka’s thriller Bhagamathie slotted for release on January 26.
Even though it’s difficult to fathom how various industries have influenced each other, the slew of successes in Telugu cinema can be significantly attributed to our state-of-the-art filmmaking and the reach of our cinema outside home territories.