HYDERABAD: India’s youngest state has now completed two years and there is an air of festivity, celebration, pride and optimism across Telangana.
And yet, when it comes to the Telugu film industry, the state continues to present a sorry picture as far as local representation in mainstream cinema is concerned. While Telangana boy Nithiin Reddy has given his best performance in A..Aa this week, female representation from Telangana in Tollywood is non-existent.
The sheer lack of opportunities for actors from the region in mainstream Telugu cinema is a cause for concern. In 2016 there has not been a single actress from Telangana on the silver screen, which goes to show how poor the state’s representation is in Tollywood.
“Unfortunately, we are currently in a situation where the ‘big’ stars, producers and directors are getting bigger -- their make-up vans are getting bigger, studios are getting bigger, budget is getting bigger. But on the other hand, the small films continue to struggle, talented actors continue to struggle for recognition,” lamented Prasanna Kumar, general secretary, Telangana Film Producer’s Council.
Local producers also feel that it’s important for the government to take measures to address this by providing subsidies or incentives so that local talent can be elevated.
“If a Telugu film gets released in Tamil Nadu, the makers will have to pay around 30 per cent tax but if a film made in Tamil or Kannada is released here, they have to pay tax of 60 per cent. The government should put in some incentives or subsidies to ensure local talent is promoted and people emerge from the state,” Prasanna opined. The producer also felt that the government must take measures to ensure movies reach all kinds of audience and that people with lower income should also be allowed to enjoy cinema.
“We need to create mini theatres where the maximum price of a movie ticket should be Rs 25. That way even the daily wage labourers and poorer members of the society can enjoy movies. Not everybody can afford to pay Rs 150 to watch a movie. If mini theatres can be introduced, the smaller movies can target this audience and grow from there,” Prasanna opined.
Even as local producers voice their frustration against the current system, actors feel that it’s not right to restrict cinema to a particular language or a region. Actor Nikhil Siddharth, one of the few stars from Telangana, says, “Although I am from Telangana, I am an Indian first. Then I am a Telugu person. For me, the country comes first and then my language, state comes after that. People have a very wrong notion that the movie industry belongs to states. The film industry does not have any boundaries and I think anyone with talent should get an opportunity to work in the industry, regardless from where they are from.”
Tollywood has an endless list of imports from other parts of the south, Mumbai and Delhi, and the actresses feel that they are drawn towards Tollywood because of the way the industry treats them.
“I’m a proud Mumbaikar but I never limit myself to one particular language or region. Wherever there is good cinema, I would like to be there. In Oopiri, we had Nagarjuna from Telugu, Karthi from Tamil and I’m from Mumbai, so there were different people from various parts of the country who came together to make the film and that’s what cinema is all about,” Tamannaah added.