If you think Bollywood films, with their lavish song and dance sequences, tend to be a bit over the top, then watch out for Tollywood. According to Rajkumar, a South Indian film industry professional, “Telegu films are larger than life. Bollywood has become a bit more realistic, a little too glamourous, the superhero has given way to the gangster. We are reclaiming the super hero.” A predominantly mustachioed super hero, with raging biceps and donning dark sunglasses keeps the Andhra Pradesh film enthusiasts satisfied. Film and faith seem uniquely intertwined in the Southern Indian state, boasting India’s second largest film industry. I had less than a day in Hydrabad to meet with local producers, actors and directors and to get onto a working film set. What struck me as I was introduced to one heavy hitter after another was the humility in which the men spoke of themselves and their craft. Almost everyone recounted the same story, they didn’t intend to be in the film industry, it just happened and now here they are, well established, and their fame – only two words can describe it: idol worship. It is common to see shrines created in honor of film stars during premieres or screenings. Although the lines between film and faith are blurred by local audiences, popular Telegu film actor Venkatesh seems quite grounded. With over 65 films to date, I spoke with Venkatesh between takes on a film set, and apart from the umbrella boy following his every move, he came across as a down-to-earth son, father and actor. “I’m not this,” he said, a realization he came to after seeking knowledge from wise men of various faiths, “the star thing I’m not getting. I just fell into acting and I think I’ve been successful because I’m very sincere at work.” Perhaps that is why Telegu films remain so successful, they are true to their audience and don’t pretend to be anything but pure bombastic entertainment.
~ Tollywood: Inside the Heartland of Telegu Films ~
By kainazamaria | Published: July 25, 2011