In a recent interview, actress Anjali pointed out that only a few actresses can pull of female-centric films. Within the miniscule number of women-oriented films that are made in Tollywood, the success rate is abyssmal.
Actresses like Anushka Shetty, Nayantara, Anjali, Shriya Saran and Charmme have acted in this genre, but only a few have succeeded. In fact, in recent times, the industry has not witnessed many films with a woman in the lead.
However, if you look at the past, we have had Jayasudha and Vijaya Shanti, who are known for their female-centric films.
“If the story is from an incident that has happened in the current times, or is a social cause, then the film connects more with the audience. The film’s success depends not on the actress, but the story.
Nowadays, the makers lack the knowledge about the story and tend to concentrate on the other things, that’s why every film or actress is not successful,” points out Jayasudha, who has acted in more than 60 female-centric films. She adds that after the story, comes the actress’ performance and how she justifies her character.
There are many established actresses in Tollywood, but filmmakers are looking at only specific actresses for such films. “I am ready to do a female-oriented film if someone approaches me with a good story,” asserts Rakul Preet Singh, one of the top actresses of Telugu cinema. “I feel that whether male or female, you have to first believe in your own talent when you are doing an out-of-the-box subject. It takes a lot of courage to accept challenging roles, and is risky,” she says.
The risk factor
“Doing female-oriented films is a big business risk, and that’s why not many such films get produced in Telugu cinema. Distributors don’t come forward to buy the film. Their choice is based on whether the lead actress is established or not,” says director Gunasekhar.
He adds that producer Shyam Prasad Reddy believed in the content of his film, and roped in Anushka for Arundhati. “He had the capacity and guts to release the film on his own, so he roped in Anushka for the role. The film became a huge success,” says Gunasekhar.
There are a few actresses like Anushka and Nayantara, who balance the female-centric films with commercial ones. “Nayantara pulls crowds because she strongly believes in the content and script. She is one actress who has shown a lot of courage and talent in doing such films,” says Rakul.
Written for women
Some filmmakers write scripts keeping in mind a specific actress. “Bhagmati was written for Anushka. If she hadn’t agreed to do it, the project may not have happened,” says G. Ashok, the film’s director, whose other film Chitrangada, which released recently, has Anjali as the lead.
“Look at other film industries where they have more realistic stories. Vidya Balan and Kangana Ranaut have proved that they can pull off female-centric films,” says Jayasudha, adding that filmmakers today don’t give importance to women in their films. “The woman’s character is there for songs or a few scenes. Actresses are also not coming forward to do bold characters,” she says....