A northie friend of mine shared this article asking for opinions from her telugu friends. Having watched the movie, though not on the first day and having followed all the uproar against the weakling in the characterization of the female lead Avantika I felt intrigued to read through the article. Especially the title echoed with my feelings. The discourse of this magnitude sounded un-necessary for me too. But as I read through, I have lost it completely. Does the author really mean the discourse is unnecessary because tollywood movies are anyways hopeless, because the director is used to dumbifing the female lead roles, because the female oriented movies are not successful, or because the director is a disciple of another Director who is used to objectifying the female lead! His arguments are something beyond my comprehension.
First let me rebuke on his degrading statement against Tollywood. Sir, your statement regarding telugu movies has really hurt a genuine telugu movie buff’s sentiments. Please be reminded we do have many female-lead movies in Tollywood. Missamma, Mayabazaar, Karthavyam, Arundati, and the latest Rudrammadevi are just few examples of successful (read box office hits) and powerful female-lead movies which I could recollect immediately. I am sure there will be many more which will surface on a simple google search (let me know if you need help there). They may not match in numbers with male-lead movies but they definitely don’t fall short of matching up in ratio with other woods (Holly, Bolly, Kolly etc).
Non-telugu guys I promise to write a separate post to give you a non-biased view of tollywood and link it up here.
Secondly on the movie, when I watched the movie, I got damn bored in the first half at the over insistence to establish the physical power of Shivudu and ofcourse I didnt like him making advances towards Avantika but I enjoyed the picturization nevertheless (And please don’t get me started on laws of physics etc… lot of so called international standard hollywood movies don’t comply as well). As the story built up I got glued to the narrative and the screen play. The second half completely compensated for the glitches in the first half. Sivagami- Ramya krishna, Kattappa – Sathyaraj , Ballaladeva – Nazar, Bijjaladeva – Rana, Snr Bahubali – Prabas! What a lovely casting, characterization and performance. And of course it will be a crime on my part not to mention the war scene. By the end of it I forgot about all the shortfalls of first half and left the theater making a mental note to watch it again on the big screen.
I still agree with a lot of my feminist friends on why Shivudu-Avantika relationship portrayal is a cause of concern given the current Indian scenario. I could have appreciated if the Director handled it better. The fact that he used colloquial language even for a movie which is framed in medieval times did impress me. Obviously he could have found a smarter way to handle the delicate romance between the two powerful lead characters.
BUT for a minute forget Avantika and look at the characterization of Sivagami. Look at the respect she commands, the ethics she caries and look at the whole kingdom that obeys to her orders (including the crocked husband). And please be reminded this character has also been brought alive by pretty much the same Director. It clarifies the point that the Director might have just been carried away in Avantika’s case but had no intentions of an anti-feministic message through his multi-million block buster movie.
Let us come to the audience. There is an age old saying “What you seek is what you get”. So I can only request the audience to use their discretion while trying to emulate the movie. You wont obviously attempt to climb up the water fall trying to dupe Sivudu right? In the same way please don’t go by the movie blindly and assume that you can continue to make advances with women even when they show resentment / when they don’t give you their consent. In short sit back and enjoy the reel for entertainment, come back to real life and behave yourselves!
I rest my case!