Lacklustre plots and an overdose of spoof and slapstick humour are set to kill Tollywood’s comedy genre, once hailed as the goose that laid golden eggs.
Barring some money-spinners such as F2, Brochevarevarura and Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya, the industry has unfortunately witnessed too many duds such as Tenali Ramakrishna BA BL, Vajra Kavacha, Silly Fellows, Nene Khedi No 1, Bhagya Nagara Veedhulo Gamathu and Three Monkeys, which even went on to dent the ratings of comedy flicks.
Producer Bandla Ganesh, who made the money-spinner Badshah with Jr NTR, agrees that the last two years saw many comedy movies, barring a few big ones, bomb at the box-office.
“At one point, many producers and distributors considered laugh riots a safe bet, and many star comedians turned heroes to make a fast buck. But now, at least for the moment, comedy flicks have a hit a roadblock for sure,” Ganesh points out.
Indeed, some comedy heroes such as Sunil, Allari Naresh, Sapthagiri, Srinivas Reddy, Dhanraj, Priyadarshi and Shakalaka Shankar had their share of hits and flops as well. “It is a bleak situation. While I don’t want to take names, it is clear as daylight that now-a-days even a Rs-2-3-crore movie with a comedy hero has turned out to be a risky proposition,” adds Ganesh.
Missing the plot
Famed writer Gopi Mohan, who penned laugh riots like Ready, Adhurs and Dhookudu, blames the current situation on the falling standards of humour in movies.
“Young writers are unable to spin healthy comedy and are relying on an overdose of slapstick, spoof and even dark humour, which has affected the viewership for comedy movies in Telugu. The truth is that writing comedy is a serious task” puts in Gopi.
The writer, who with Kona Venkat, had penned many comedies with stars such as Mahesh Babu, Jr NTR, Ram and Vishnu Manchu to create a new path, gives a glimpse into his process of working on the genre.
“We took scripts that had scope for comedy and weaved humour around relatable characters. That paid off,” he says. However, Gopi also admits that while the craze for laugh riots is waning, the layman’s access to social media-trolls-memes on celebrities and politicians has affected the comedy genre.
“Memes on the latest topic of discussion get created almost every minute, which can be passed on and heavily shared via WhatsApp and other platforms, so filmmakers have to work doubly hard to raise the bar when they make what they consider is a laugh riot,” he reasons.
Young producer Lagadapati Sridhar believes there is a dearth of new-age directors with the flair for comedy these days.
“I have readied a script for the sequel of my comedy film Evadi Gola Vadithi, but I haven’t yet been able to find the right director who can handle it,” says Sridhar. “I grew up watching great comedy movies by legendary directors such as Jandhyala, E.V.V. Satyanarayana and Relangi Narasimha Rao. Sadly, the present generation doesn’t have directors of such calibre.”
Then, pointing out that humour thrives on excellent writing and a good plot, which he says lacks in our present-day comedy movies, Sridhar states that some writers and filmmakers merely look at rehashing old concepts or works.
“Adding to all this, the huge success of TV shows such as Jabardhast has also impacted theatrical collections. If the audience find entertainment on their social media and TV shows, comedy in cinema has to be at the next level to attract footfalls at theatres in the future,” he adds.
All said and done Gopi Mohan hints of hope.' “We are working with ace comedy filmmaker Srinu Vaitla to come up with a new pattern of comedy, which I am sure will leave the audiences in splits, like we did in the past,” he concludes.