For nearly a decade, Telugu cinema has had an overdose of perishable movies. While we did witness high collections and records were in fact broken, it was high time that someone noticed how filmmakers were just rehashing and reproducing the same storylines in different formats. Things seem to have changed though. From the biggest stars to the smallest actors, everyone seems to have realised that story is indeed the king.
During the promotions of Janatha Garage, NTR Jr whose choice of films has seen a very interesting transition recently, pointed out that the change has happened only because he learnt a lesson. “Content was always the king. But sometimes, you need a wakeup call. For me, a few films I worked on before Nannaku Prematho didn’t work, and that triggered the desire and the thought of moving away from the formula that has been tried and tested. I know at times, we ignore content in films and look at combinations and box office numbers, but at the end of the day, content is what is primarily important,” said the actor.
In fact, it seems to be the case for many other stars too. Be it Mahesh Babu whose Aagadu pushed him to do Srimanthudu, or Ram Charan whose Bruce Lee was outright rejected and led him to do Dhruva and later sign on a film with Mani Ratnam, it does seem the stars are understanding the need to give the audience something new. Allu Arjun and Nithiin, too, are slowly moving into the category.
Reflecting on this shift, director Nandini Reddy points out, “I think there is a resistance from the audience when it comes to formulaic cinema. When a big-ticket actor’s film faces rejection, it is quite a big deal. A couple of fights, grand locales and dances aren’t enough anymore; a story is needed too. Small films always have to depend on content. But it is the stars moving in this direction which is a big boost for the industry.”
She is echoed by producer Raj Kandukuri, who says, “Times have changed and a huge budget, and dates of a star hero do not guarantee success anymore. That needs to be backed by a good story. The audience come to the theatre with a blank mind. Maybe a familiar hero would mean a few expectations in terms of what the film would be. But that’s it, they now need something new.” And that’s what Allu Arjun is apparently banking on for his next with director Vakkantha Vamsi....