Filmmakers from Telangana are alleging regional discrimination, resulting in their being relegated to second-class status in relation to their counterparts from Andhra Pradesh.
They say that audiences in the other Telugu state rarely watch the movies they make, though the same cannot be said of film-goers in Telangana who appreciate a good movie, irrespective of its place of origin.
This has limited the financial success of movies made by the Telangana section of the Telugu film industry, they allege.
Many filmmakers have urged the state government to provide subsidies and other sops to encourage the industry in the State and encourage hitherto untapped talent.
‘I’m off to B-Town, where it’s merit that counts’
Telangana-born director Jeevan Reddy, who created a buzz with his film George Reddy, is planning to move to Bollywood to make a web series in Hindi to keep his career alive.
“I didn’t get many offers after George Reddy despite the film being well-appreciated. But I got a plum offer from a B-town production house to direct a lavish period saga. Perhaps, they judged my talent on merits and not by my region of birth,” states Jeevan Reddy.
“Barring Chiranjeevi garu, I didn’t get any appreciation from so-called top directors. They promote even poorly-made movies of Andhra-born directors, but have no time for a single tweet for a film like George Reddy, which was a story of one of the iconic student leaders of Telangana state. It’s unfortunate,” he laments.
He urged the Telangana government to step in to support Telangana-based movies, like the Maharashtra government is doing.
“Marathi cinema flourished because of the big support by the Maharashtra government which protected the identity of Marathi culture, nativity and dialect and also helped the industry withstand the onslaught of star-studded B-town movies. Now, Marathi movies are bagging national awards frequently,” he pointed out, and called for similar support from the Telangana Government.
Government must help
Though it has been more than six years since Telangana state was formed, filmmakers feel the government has hasn’t done much to shore up the fortunes of the talent in the State. K.V.R. Mahendra, who rose to fame with the Telangana-centric Dorasani, says “Telangana cinema had a distinct identity and flavour for a few decades, with cult movies like Maa Bhoomi, Daasi, Komaram Bheem Bathukamma and Erra Sanyam. But it is slowly losing its sheen due to the lack of encouragement from the industry and the Government.”
Explaining that he had wanted to “dispel the notion that Telangana cinema mostly has revolutionary themes,” he said he had made a beautiful love story.
Mahendra cherishes the appreciation he received from legendary filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who called him after watching his 14-minute short film Nisheedhi in 2015. “I am a big fan of his, and his comment that I had nicely executed a filmmaker’s viewpoint still rings in my ears,” he says.
Plenty of untapped talent’
Raj Kandukuri, who introduced the likes of Vijay Deverakonda and Tharun Bhascker to the celluloid world, says, “There is a lot of untapped talent in the state, so I request the government to consider some kind of subsidies for films made with a budget of Rs 1 crore or 1.5 crore. If we shoot in London, tourism authorities there refund 40% of our shooting expenses and Azerbaijan also offers a package. Our state government should think along similar lines to encourage producers to bet money on native talent,” he suggests.
TS workers bullied on sets
Director Prem Raj, president of the Telangana Cinema Industry Employees Federation, says “Only 40% to 45% of our employees are hired by Telugu filmmakers and a few of them are threatened or bullied on Telugu film sets.”
He is also unhappy with the recent comments made by veteran filmmaker
Tammareddy Bharadwaj, who questioned the necessity of a separate Telangana Workers’ Union.
“Probably, he is speaking on behalf of hundreds of Andhra-born filmmakers and want to chase us out of our own state,” he said.
Citing other instances of shabby treatment by the government, Prem Raj alleges that 3000-odd Telangana film workers were overlooked in the supply of essentials during the lockdown.
“A Telangana state minister distributed groceries only to 150 out of 3000 workers in our Union but distributed supplies to 14,000 members of a rival federation, which is unfortunate. Such discrimination has been going on for years and we have been suffering in silence,” he adds.
‘It’s just a myth’
“I don’t think there is any discrimination based on region because there are many actors, directors and producers who are already making waves in Telugu cinema. There are equal opportunities for everyone, and anyone who utilises them to the best of their abilities will make his mark.
Talented actors and technicians will always find their place in this big industry, irrespective of their place of birth. Box office performance holds the key to get more offers.
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