New Year, New Tollywood - ‘The Changes we want’

Published Jan 1, 2016, 1:51 pm IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
A survey of female stars from Tollywood reveals a few archaic practices that need to stop.

Tollywood and its fans are marking the start of a new year. Moviegoers are looking for fresh topics, ideas, faces and scripts. All of which, the industry promises to deliver. But there’s still a real need to change existing practices within the industry — some of them are just archaic and are misfits in an age when the country itself is rising to abolish sexist practices, that encourage gender bias, across sectors. It’s time our movies and the people behind them took up a few resolutions.

So, we checked with a few leading actresses and woman filmmakers on what changes were on top of their wishlists. And due to the delicate nature of this survey, we offered them the choice of anonymity. The following is what they want banished from the industry, forever!

More women please!
Another actress says, there are shoots with no women crew at all. “Tollywood as a workplace needs a serious influx of women. Often, film crews are full of men and there’s not a woman in sight. I hope girls are given equal opportunities in all areas and more girls should also come forward to grab these opportunities... in direction, scriptwriting etc!”
Another actress supports the point. “If there is one thing I would like to see more in Tollywood, is more women. It would be great if there are more female directors and assistant directors.”


The caravan outrage
A leading director maintains there are “many instances of sexism within the Telugu film industry”. “Take this, for instance. Film shoots have caravans and every caravan is split into two parts — one’s bigger than the other. And without even asking, because this has been happening for so long... it’s almost the norm, the hero is given the larger part. This is outrageous because there’s not even a request. Would it hurt egos to even ask? But the real change I want to see is in the people themselves. Instead of complaining, it would be great if they raise their voices and actually do something about it!

Focus on heroes and pay
A debutant says, “I’m actually praying for just two changes to happen immediately... for everyone’s sake! First of all, I really do think people behind the camera.... the lightmen, the spot boys and the crew are severely underpaid. So, are the actresses. Thing is, if the heroes could part with at least 10 per cent of their total renumeration thereby allowing producers to make increments in payments, everyone will be that much happier. My second wish is, more focus on actual content and less close-ups for the hero. Films are actually being made around an actor’s image these day. But what about content? It’s high time we made content-driven films because yes, that’s what moviegoers want!

Expected to arrive early, and wait
Another disgusting, widespread practice is the actress being asked to arrive early at a promotional event, and wait for the hero. “It’s true. The actresses are expected to arrive before the lead hero at many of these film events. That way, the attention stays more on the actor. Besides that, during outdoor shoots, the lead hero is somehow automatically, entitled to better rooms and amenities.”

TV in 2016

It may be called the small screen, but in all the ways that matter, TV is standing up to its bigger sibling — films — and holding its own. If 2015 saw TV experiment with newer genres and content, then 2016 will see it explore its power even more. We got three top producers to comment on what they foresee happening on the medium over the coming year and they had some interesting insights to give. Read on

Comedy will be the king: Deeya Singh
I  think in the second half of 2016, people will go all out for comedy. After a point, the audience gets tired of unrealistic stuff — all the naagins et al, even the mythologicals are overdone. So I forsee thrillers and comedy being big. One thing that I do hope for, is to see stronger heroines on the small screen. Deeya has been the force behind TV shows like Banegi Apni Baat, Just Mohabbat and Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin — As told to Natasha Coutinho

Expect innovative concepts: Vikas Seth
The year gone by has been one filled with learning, especially with trends noted through new rural data roll out. 2016, according me, will see content strategy that strongly caters to the masses, with innovative concepts around popular beliefs or popular icons (mythology/Indian culture/biopics/fantasy) and highlighting the real human emotions behind them.
Also, concepts exploring the relationships between family members will continue to be seen in 2016. Family values-related shows do connect emotionally with the audiences and make a mark. — Vikas has produced shows like Dil Se Dil Dua Saubhagyavati Bhav, Anamika and Yeh Vaada Raha

TV vs digital media: Yash Patnaik
The year 2016 is going to be an interesting one for television. And I’ll tell you why Television has ruled the roost over the last decade-and-a-half. The only competition was from films. But with the advent of digital media, the TV industry will have to bring about a change in both content and strategy. TV content will evolve to cater to both audiences.
Most channels have already rolled out their own OTT (over the top content) platforms. It will be interesting to see how channels and producers balance their content for both the audience.

The audience can certainly expect more original content. Newer and stronger characters will emerge. Newer backdrops will be explored. New stars will give competition to existing stars — there will be a realignment of stardom in TV. Treatment of serials will see a sea change. Our serials will be visually and technically stronger.

Yash Patnaik is the producer of shows like Ek Veer Ki Ardaas...Veera, Sadda Haq, Junoon – Aisi Nafrat Toh Kaisa, Ishq and Rang Badalti Odhani