Art & Entertainment

Telugu Cinema And Heroism: A Timeless Tale

Social media has been buzzing for the last two days since the favourite action heroes of Tollywood have announced the release date of their next films.

Still from the movie 'Shyam Singha Roy.'

When Mahesh Babu said, "okkasari commit ayyanante naa maata nene vinanu", (a dialogue recreated by Salman Khan as 'Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di' in the movie 'Wanted') theatres erupted with whistles and applause from the audience that went to watch 'Pokiri' in 2006. Over a decade later, when someone would watch the film on a television, the dialogue is sure to give goosebumps even now.

Years later, when Naga Chaitanya in 2018 film 'Savyasachi' is on the ground, beaten badly by the goons, his other hand, (due to Vanishing twin syndrome) springs into action and the hero is up on this feet again, ready to give it back to the bad guys, a scene that is still loved by many.That is what action is for a Telugu movie lover. So, it justifies the tsunami of excitement that has gripped social media in the last two days, with the biggest names like Chiranjeevi, Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu and more recently Ravi Teja announcing the release dates of their upcoming action films. 

Fans can't stop showing the enthusiasm, fan groups are hyper-activated, their names have been trending incessantly. It's almost like a celebration! And there is a reason behind it too. 

For years, cinema has been seen as a mode of entertainment where people like to escape from their realities and indulge in aspirational stories. Stories where the good not only wins over the evil but does it with style, making the bad guys fly in air with just one power packed punch. While Hindi cinema also indulged in similar screenplay with Amitabh Bahchan and eventually Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff's films in 1980 and 1990s, the demand for real and relatable cinema took over eventually. 

While the evolution of Telugu cinema has brought variety of genres to the forefront, nothing has ever come close to the genre of heroism so far.This year too, films like 'Bheemla Nayak', 'Acharya', 'RRR','Major', 'Sarkaru Vaari Paata','Ghani', promise a heavy dose of action to the fans. 

Director Ravi Ravipudi, who directed Mahesh Babu's 2020 blockbuster 'Sarileru Neekevvaru', gives an example to explain why heroism is so popular.

"Let's say some atrocity happens on the road. Some guy is standing there but is unable to do anything because he is not that much courageous but he wants to hit the wrong person. Every human being wants to be a hero but they cannot be a hero in real life. Every weekend they go and watch a film and enjoy the heroism that resembles somewhere the heroism which is in their heart. This is the mindset of the audience. That is where the action works, one person hits and 100 people will fly in the air and that works," he says. 

The filmmaker whose next directorial is 'F3' and untitled film with Balakrishna, adds, "In Hindi, Subhash Ghai sir made 'Ram Lakhan' kind of films were being made where heroes were doing that kind of action but then Bollywood moved into more city centric stories and South took the advantage."

In Nani's recent film, 'Shyam Singha Roy', an action sequence shows him beating an evil priest black and blue. He then runs towards the huge Goddess Kaali's idol and leaps high in the air to grab the scimitar and castrate the evil priest with it. The aggression in the action scene gave viewers goosebumps and how! The film's director Rahul Sankritiyan,"It;s true that heroism is a bit more if you compare to other film industries but that is not exactly the scene right now. All people are seeing only the hit films like 'Baahubali', but there is also a lot of good content being produced in Telugu," Sankritiyan tells us.

He adds, "The whole heroism thing represents the psychological status of a normal person. That is where the importance of God comes into picture. Why do you need God to save you? Everyday you wake up and pray and there is a fact in your mind that there is someone above me who is always taking care of me. That is where heroism comes in. If you see, people who ask 'why do we need this kind of heroism? Why can't we see cinema about art and poetry' have the time and luxury to think that. However, the people who do not have the luxury are the ones who are too tired in day-to-day life and want to get rid of the weariness their materialistic life offers. These are the people who need some extra adrenaline rush that calms his mind, body and entertains them. I am sure they appreciate normal films also if projected. As long as there are people watching it, filmmakers will make it."

Decoding the human psyche, Delhi based psychotherapist Nikita Jain says, "The hero archetype or myth can be found in folklore, legends and cinema generations after generations. This hero is one who possesses extraordinary capabilities and supernatural powers, and has a god- like persona, who is a saviour, protector, and a wise person all in one. These figures represent our hope for a safe and secure world, as elusive as it maybe."

Drawing the comparison between this and why a regular person enjoys heroism in cinema, she adds, "The audience in a very complex way are fascinated by their strength and courage. This trend reiterates the fantasy of protection of the vulnerable from oppressors. Such movies keep us in touch with our fears as well as our the idea of a hero who protects us from our fears".

So, while the world cinema can continue to bring diverse stories to the table, on a hopeless dull day, the heroes of Telugu films will always be there to save the day!