Something is very much amiss with Tollywood which has the reputation of being the only cinema industry in the world producing around 150 plus films every year in one language, Telugu. In spite of the enormous quantity of production, sadly the quality is missing. Very few Telugu films had won National Awards and none made an entry into the International Film Festival circuit. Though 99% of Telugu films follow the song-dance-fight-drama-comedy formula of the Indian mainstream commercial cinema, jubilee hits in its own Telugu turf are few and far between.
The last big hit in Tollywood was Ram Charan’s Magadheera directed by SS Rajamouli in 2009. Later on, all big budget films with top stars – Mahesh Babu’s Khaleja, Pawan Kalyan’s Teen Maar, Ntr Jr’s Shakti, Siddharth’s Anaganaga O Dheerudu , Rana’s Nenu Naa Rakshasi, Ravi Teja’s Veera and Allu Arjun’s Badrinath have been great disasters at the box office. All these films are multi-crore productions and a conservative estimate of around Rs 200 cr of production costs of all these films have gone into the drain.
The only films that did well were NTR Jr’s Brindaavanam, Sunil’s Maryada Ramanna, Prabhas’ Mr Perfect and Naga Chaitanya’s 100% Love. A few small budget films like Ala Modalaindi, Prema Kavali, Seema Tapakai have done well at the box office.
The basic reason for this debacle appears to be that producers and directors seem to go for grandiose sets and locations and packing the narration with computer SFX with little concern for basic plot, content and characterization.
When will Tollywood realize that cinema is fundamentally an audio-visual story- telling art. Who will watch a movie that induces yawn after yawn? Even if the commercial cinema format is supposed to be just entertainment and nothing else, where are the essential ingredients of entertainment?
It is high time that Tollywood wakes up. Instead of wasting hundreds of crores on production of star-studded box-office duds, let Telugu film-makers come out with films with meaningful entertainment. There is also an urgent need to go for multi-starrers to justify high budget productions. Look at Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan acts in multi-starrers. Are our Telugu stars bigger than Big B?