When the Girl Cried Wolf

Several years ago, when Meher Ramesh’s Kantri came out, there were a bunch of people who took to the streets saying that the film portrayed people who belonged to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes cheaply. The film had the hero, Jr. NTR, live in a slum while his profession was a street goon who did anything for money. The ‘offensive part’ came in because his slum had a Dr. B.R. Ambedkar statue in it. So the people who were rallying for taking this scene out said that:

  1. It was an insult to Dr. Amedkar, and
  2. The director was generalizing that people who belonged to ‘lower castes’ (whatever that means) would be uneducated rowdies who did cheap and illegal work for money.

Frankly, I am crazy about cinema and its every tiny detail but if it wasn’t for this retaliation all over the news, I wouldn’t even have noticed the Dr. Ambedkar statue in the slums while I watched the film in the theater. It was that inconspicuous and irrelevant.


Now I see a lot of people writing articles and uploading videos where they mention their disgust over the Rape of Avantika in Rajamouli’s latest venture, Baahubali. When I did watch this particular scene where Shivudu applies black khol and red lipstick on Avantika and disrobes her dull and earth colored clothes to cloth her in bright red ones, I exclaimed to my friend, “Why is he raping the poor woman. He’s probably taken true inspiration from his Guru, Raghavendra Rao, to portray his sense of romance,” and continued to watch the rest of the film.

The point I am trying to make is, yes, no doubt, this scene is offensive to women. And no, I am not going to use ‘Well, most Indian or Telugu films have always been like this, so why crib about it now or you calling it sexist is not going to make a difference to film making.’

What I am trying to say is; you are educated, you have it in your power to make a choice. A choice to have an opinion or a choice to decide what you want to watch or read for entertainment.

If you really found Baahubali, or the Avantika scene in particular very sexist, if you felt that she was being raped, why did you sit through and watch that scene and the rest of the movie? Why didn’t you leave the theater then and there, when you were disgusted? If you did that, then I would see your point and applaud you for your principles, and if you didn’t and continued to watch the rape only to walk out of the theater and make a video or blog about it, I’m going to call you a hypocrite. Because, you see, in my opinion, you are not a feminist; you are just nit-picking. And let me also say, I completely understand your anguish, but it clearly lacks sincerity.

Allow me to nit-pick as well. Why were only the lead men with great bodies in Baahubali shown half naked? Is it because they were sporting the 6-pack? Are men who do not have a sexy and muscular body not worth seeing half naked at all? Is this why we didn’t get to see a shirtless or armor-less Kattappa? Why was Bijjaladeva’s upper body always covered in a silk shawl? Was it because of his handicap? Why are we cheaply discriminating between men who do not have toned bodies or are handicapped? Why are we being six-packists?

You see what I’m trying to say? I’m in no way saying that the way women are portrayed in our movies is justified. Time and again, women have been objectified in every film industry. And that is not right. But things are changing for us and we should acknowledge that. Stop the spite. For an Avantika that was shown, there was a Shivagami too. And to me and most women who watched this film, Shivagami is who we chose to carry out in our head when we walked out after watching the film.  The director’s intent when he made Baahubali was not to educate uncouth, illiterates on how to de-robe a female soldier. Do not expect every movie you watch to have a message that benefits society. That’s not why most people make movies, because if that was their goal, they would be philanthropists instead. If all you want is a message oriented thing, go and sit in a Human Values lecture.

Irrespective of whether women are shown in a certain way or not, crimes against women continue to happen. Such acts are essentially not happening because someone saw a film somewhere and is inspired by it. People always, always, and ALWAYS have a choice in what they do. The kind of films they watch, the kind of books they read. When I was a teenager, I read Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline and this book disturbed me for a few weeks. There is this particular shady character in the book that takes women, and strips them completely naked and ties a red ribbon around their neck, rapes them, videotapes the episode and then kills the women. After I had completed this book, I looked at every male stranger with suspicion and tried to peep into their pocket to see if they had a red ribbon hidden somewhere. Of course, I grew up and realized not all men are serial killers, and that if I come across a book that disgusting, I must stop reading it. I hope people who are writing such spiteful blogs or making such videos while donning fake feminism realize that they have this option. It is in your hands whether you want to encourage a certain film or not, you are not being dragged and tied up to a chair to watch something.


This issue isn’t just about Baahubali for that matter. Telugu film industry, just like any other film industry in the country, is and will continue to be regressive towards women, as long as we allow them to be.

Samantha will continue to tweet about a regressive poster from Nenokkadine, where the heroine is crawling behind the hero like his watchdog while she continues to allow a Naga Chaitanya to kiss her feet in Ye Maaya Chesave. Because, for her the former is male chauvinism while the latter is Gautham Menon’s tasteful romance, but to me, it is about equality of both genders and her’s is plain hypocrisy. So if you are displeased with this kind of misogyny, go watch a Malayalam film with a good storyline. From what I have seen in them, Nazariya playing a bride in Bangalore Days is dressed more elegantly and realistically than the way Samantha is skimpily dressed while she is not only being held captive but is simply the bride, Nithya Menon’s aide in the song ‘Super Machi’ from S/O Sathyamurthy.

I was recently watching this Telugu talk show, Open Heart with RK. Normally, I do not watch such crappy shows, but I was on a ‘Telugu film directors’ high and was watching RK interview Rajamouli. Here’s how it went.

RK: So are you sleeping with anyone other than your wife. Like any heroines?

Rajamouli: (smiles) No, I am very loyal to my wife.

RK couldn’t shut up after that

RK: 100% sure, no affairs?

Rajamouli: (still smiling) Yes, 100%

RK the dork: Haha, really, ok… (gives a disgusting smirk that amounts to, yeah, right, you think I believe you, to which Rajamouli says nothing)

Personally, I found the way RK put forth his question very indecent. One, Rajamouli is not going to tell you on national TV if he’s sleeping around with someone other than his wife, and two, you do not smirk so cheaply while asking such a question. I turned the TV off because I couldn’t watch any further.

When my mom was visiting me last year, I had to buy the Indian channels package so she could watch her daily serials and shows she religiously followed on TV. There was this particular channel; I believe Maa TV, that continuously had scrolls about a new talk show by the Telugu comedian, Ali, called Ali Talkies. Now I like Ali as a comedian and was a little excited to watch this show hoping for some good comedy. This show called actors and actresses promoting their upcoming films and Ali, unabashedly, made vulgar jokes about a lot of things. About his co-anchor’s clothes. About how she looked sexier in western clothes as opposed to when she wore a saree. He made more crass comments about the actress who was on the show to promote her film by asking her if the reason behind her steamy chemistry with JD Chakravarthy in the film was because she had “lap-chik” with him off screen. I turned the TV off and never watched that show again.

Some people do not care to play an Avantika on-screen. Let them be. Another actress, Rambha, said to a Telugu director who is known was throwing fruits and flowers on a woman’s midriff and calling it romance, “Gurugaru, you did not throw any fruits on me in this film.” She said this on national TV, when she came on a show called Soundarya Lahari, with a really sad face and pouty lips. Let these people be. We are the ones who have the choice to watch this kind of shit or boycott it.

While there are these people, there are also actresses like Kangana Ranaut who declined a 2 crore offer to star in a fairness ad commercial because of her principles. Let us look at the brighter side of the story.

When a woman in our country is raped and is lying naked on the street, some people choose not to help her while some people choose come forward and rush her to the nearest hospital. When a bunch of vagabonds are eve teasing a girl walking on the street, they are not doing it solely because they watched Kundan Shankar torment Zoya to accept his love in Raanjhanaa. And if a guy does go forward and help the girl who is being teased, he didn’t do it solely because he watched Balu punch to pulp, a bunch of eve teasers who were troubling Bujji in Tholiprema.

When I recently watched the trailer of the upcoming Telugu movie, Rudramadevi, I decided that I’m not going to watch it. For me, Rudramadevi has been one of the bravest warriors from South India. But if Gunaskehar decides to portray such a bold and fearless woman as someone who wears a diamond studded bra and silk pajamas while she’s dancing to a melody, under a waterfall and romancing her lover by letting him adorn her with jungle flowers, I’m not going to watch it. Because the essence of her commendable biography that deserves respect has been taken away by a lousy director. I’m not going to be one of those people who go to the theater, watch it and crib about how insulting it is to warrior princesses and to women, in general. And keep in mind, if thousands of people did that, a film won’t do well, collect all the money it does, break all box office records, and the director would be forced to look into his crappy screenplay.


Our country is changing. Our mindset is changing. It is going to take decades to bring about the change we would love to see, but it has already begun. But first things first, not all of our men are stupid enough to be influenced by what they see on TV, watch at the theater or read at home. Let us give them that credit. They deserve it. Let us stop hiding under the mask of fake-feminism. Let us learn to take offense rightly. Let us stop taking pretentious offense, irrespective of whether something is important and trivial under the garb of sisterhood.

Let us stop crying Wolf every now and then, ever so often, at fiction or reel life because when the Wolf really comes in real life, nobody would be willing to believe us or hear us out.

Baahubali – The Enigma

“India does not need a 250 crore budget movie at this time.”


This is how I have felt every time I caught a glimpse of any news related to Baahubali over the last couple of years. I have incessantly argued with people who have told me that I must consider entertainment as entertainment and nothing beyond that. But in my opinion, Baahubali – the biggest movie ever made in the history of our country, is not what our country needs right now. If someone had 250 crores, why would they invest the money in something as frivolous as an epic war film. Think about all the progression that could have taken place had this massive budget been put to good use. Progress! That’s what the country needs right now. We have so many other pressing problems. Besides isn’t more than half of the money invested in the film black money? It is being said that the lead actor, Prabhas, will take home about 20 crores for this film. Will Prabhas ever pay all the right kinds of taxes on his earnings?

Apparently, the movie hired a few thousand people over the past two years. That means, as many as 2000 – 5000 thousand junior artists and technicians earned their daily bread and butter because they were on the Baahubali team. That’s pretty close to having a private job, similar to the MNC kind, without the benefits of course.

It is believed that around 20 acres of land in the Ramoji Film City was employed for the sole purpose of growing corn. And what was this massive corn crop grown for? To shoot a few scenes in a movie. There are hundreds of thousands of farmers with or without their own land, with or without water resources to water their land, with or without the means to work and manage their cultivation activities, and here, is this crazy team using extensive plots of land for aesthetic movie scenes. What happens to the entire crop after the shoot? If there is such fertile land, capable of growing tons of corn, is show casing the crop in a movie its best use?  

The movie is made by a common man who is only 9 films old. A man who started his career by directing mindless daily serials that had oodles of family drama in them and went on to dare and put Indian cinema out there on the world podium. A man passionate about cinema, a man who dared to dream big. A man who had the guts to show to the fanatic Telugu audience that the director is the true hero in any film.

The movie is directed by a man who hasn’t made one thing that is not a revenge story. Big protagonists, bigger and ugly antagonists. His heroines almost always have no role in the movie expect when they wear skimpy clothes and run around ancient forts begging their heroes to do ‘censor board approved’ stuff to them. It is said that the man is stunted when it comes to having an original vision and oftentimes plagiarizes from the West. Be it from Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Our Hospitality or Cockroach. The man always chooses his cousin to deliver the music for his films and the cousin composes the kind of music that makes your hair stand on its end, well, at least until you realize that the tune was lifted from some German album. Also the hero or the villain is eternally and intentionally better clad when compared to the heroine; even when she is a princess and he is a mere soldier because the true sense of power obviously lies in the men. Which is why the tons of money and time are spent on how the men look, and in designing a new and ghastly weapon for them to hold in order to make them look like demi-gods. 

They said that the movie ticket would cost us $20. That, to me, is ridiculous. Telugu movie tickets are overpriced to begin with, especially when you compare them to tickets for a Hollywood or Bollywood movie. The tickets are priced based on the lead actor so you could pay anywhere between $12 to 16$ to watch a Telugu movie. But $20, huh!?! Well, at least Thank God, that’s what I am going to have to pay. The tickets are $25 in some cities in California and $28 in some places in Virginia. Of course, they are going to charge that much. What would be a better way to recover all those crores they invested into this film?

I went and watched Baahubali – The Beginning on Saturday, last week. I woke up on Sunday morning with a movie hangover and so, I watched another epic war film, 300, to get over this one.

India does not need a 250 crore budget movie right now. If I ever had 250 crores to spend, I wouldn’t invest the money in a movie.

This morning, I went online and spent another $20 and got myself a ticket for the evening show. I guess I haven’t gotten enough of Shivagami and Kattappa.

And S.S. Rajamouli, of course!


I never really thought very highly of Sukumar as a director. To me, he was just a messed up faker. And that’s probably because when he came out with his first Telugu film, Aarya, I was in a deep state of some sort of a one sided crush with this really cute guy who was in turn behind another girl. I concretely believed that this girl was prettier than me and my crush would never look back to find me following him around on campus.

That was precisely when I watched Aarya. Sukumar threw a new perception towards one-side lovers. He made it seem like the one who didn’t have the girl he loved can continue to be happy with simply the satisfaction of being in love from a great distance without ever having the person to yourself. And that according to me, is bullshit. I think it is stupid to be in love with someone who is already with somebody else. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, I’m just saying it is plain stupid. One side love hurts. More than Sukumar could have ever imagined. But of course, Aarya was a huge commercial success followed by a similar result with Aarya 2. Now Aarya 2 was when I noticed that Sukumar has an inclination to men with psychological disorders. Because the guy who plays Aarya beats up the goons and then stitches up their wounds.

I had three reasons not to watch his latest venture 1: Nenokkadine.

One, it is basically something Sukumar would spit out for the class audience with a mass heart. Item songs, unnecessary fights, illogical story-line, great music, tall heroines, and not to forget, nutcase heroes.

Two, the promos were absolutely boring. Watching a film trailer is like a mother overseeing her teenage daughter. You can always tell the fate of the film. Just like a mother knows when her daughter has had her first love, and first heart break. No, you don’t have to say a single word, your mother can just look into your eyes and know it all.

Three, the regressive poster controversy. Being an outright feminist, I completely supported Samantha’s tweet on the movie poster, the one that had the hero walking on the beach with the heroine crawling behind him like his watchdog or slave or something. It was out rightly demeaning. And I was starting to get a little bored with Mahesh, the hero, having the women in all his films running behind him because of his good looks. It is getting too cliche.

Fourth. Yeah, I know I said I had only three reasons, but the fourth one came up much later. The movie ticket was sold at a gouging price of $18. Come one, I paid $7 for Dhoom 3 last week and was cribbing that the trashy film wasn’t worth my seven bucks. 

But I found myself in the nearest theater to watch 1 last night. The magnetism of Mahesh Babu was something my mind had unconsciously succumbed to.


Nenokkadine is a very different film. Although Tollywood has churned out only a few psychological thrillers in the past 20-30 years, Nenokkadine is definitely a differently gripping film. Something that stands out. The film revolves around Gautham, a Rockstar musician, who has a grey yet very blurry past. He is in search for his true identity and therefore is looking for his parents’ murderers. Circumstances confuse him all the more and he is consumed in a vortex that makes it impossible for him to tell the difference between what is real and imaginary. The lead lady, Sameera, who is a journalist, makes the situation only worse by playing with his disability until Gautham falls in love with her. The film then spins into a chilling pre-interval sequence

The second half of the film is about Gautham realizing that his parents’ killers are not imaginary and are actually his Harry Potter Pensieve-type of memories and he goes out to get both, his revenge, and also what is really important to him, Who is he. The second half starts great, drags on for a while and concludes with a 20 minute emotional climax.

Sukumar has completely surprised me with this film. He doesn’t waste any time to get into the story. Within the first 5 minutes after the introduction song, you realize you have to pay attention to understand the rest of the film. The director seems to be very clear on what his film is about. If you weren’t paying attention for a minute or took popcorn breaks, you sure are going to be confused. He has truly brought meaning to the genre, Telugu-Psychological Thrillers.  He did not feel the need to put irrelevant or cheap comedy side-tracks. Of course, he could have avoided the current length of the film, and that would’ve reduced the drag created by the Goa scenes in the first half. Although the story offers many interesting twists and turns, the editing takes care of not missing out on even tiny yet detailed aspects of the plot. The flow in which one scene led to another and wove the story into a neatly crocheted warm rug is worth a mention. I completely liked how Sukumar penned some one liners that make you giggle for a second or two. Now that is a thriller. You shouldn’t laugh for more than a second. If you have watched Jagadam and liked R.Rathnavelu’s cinematography, you will completely fall in love with his work when you watch this film. It is simply outstanding. This dude is a precious charm for Tollywood.


Given some obvious loopholes in what seems like a confusing story line, Mahesh has delivered brilliant performance. Be it the action packed scenes, the confused yet confident and disabled Rockstar, or the emotional lover boy digging into his dark past and searching for his parents. The entire film has conveniently been placed in his tattooed arms and he carries it with exceptional ease. I’m glad he chose to do a film that not only has him do his banal stuff like running, fighting, having the heroine run to him, hug him and express her love, dancing for the item number, but also gave him the opportunity to show his emotional acting side. His acting when he questions the actual antagonist who his parents are and is torn between keeping him alive to learn the truth and killing him because he is evil is probably the best act in his career so far. When you see in hug his childhood photo album and cry like a child, you almost want to go and wipe his tears and tell him that it will be okay. Like during his confrontation scene when he kneels down in front of Nasser in Athadu after the wedding. Psst. For all the girls, and guys who are not insecure about their looks: Mahesh looked hot! Be it while he was running, or wearing those thick black rimmed glasses, or dancing in maroon colored cargo pants.

Kirti Sanon was predominantly there because our films require a heroine. You could have gotten away with just having a male friend play her role as well. But she looked good and unlike other top hero films, she shares good screen space. Although her role wasn’t entirely written to be performance oriented, she did well. The scene where she pretends to talk to an imaginary Gautham since he refuses to take her with him to London was particularly cute. All the other artists performed mediocre to good but they were all just sprinkled around here and there. I also have trouble understanding why directors choose to have Kelly Dorji play antagonist roles. He doesn’t look like a powerful one to begin with, and for gods-sake, the 10 Telugu-film old guy still mouths dialogues in Hindi that you can clearly tell if you are a lip reader. Gautham Krishna playing the role of the Rockstar as a kid is just about average, given perhaps, the fact that it is his first film.  But that sadly makes me think that this is the beginning of yet another Star Hero son’s career in Tollywood and frankly, I hate the trend (including Mahesh) that an actor’s son automatically gets his right to become an actor with so little struggle. That is a completely different topic altogether, but sincerely, the little boy from Tulasi would have done a better job though. DSP’s songs not so great but what saves the film is his vividly engrossing background score. The background is bound to linger in your head for at least an hour or two after you walk out of the theater. It’s like DSP knows when exactly to hit the suspense cord, the thrill cord and the emotional cord. You probably may come back home and listen to a song or two but that’s about the songs. Oops! I also thought that the ‘Johnny Johnny’ song had pretty funny lyrics.

Like I said, Nenokkadine is a different film. Now if you are a regular Telugu film watcher without taste, the one who feels the need to leave your brains outside the theater and laughs at silly slapstick comedy or enjoys lame scenes by Brahmi or Venu Madhav, or thinks highly of films that have Tata Sumos flying in the air while heroes clad in crisp white lungis are walking with sickles in their mouths, or like films that have two heroines running around the hero with at least 6-7 songs where aerobics are being performed, this film is not for you. Also, if you are a Hollywood absorbent who thinks Telugu films are dumb and that directors and actors will never change their commercial elements (and blah!) and got dragged along with a friend to watch this film, this one is not for you either. Both of you will not enjoy it.

Now if you are someone who is nonchalant about the commercial success of films and the crores it garners, watches Telugu/Hindi/English films and never makes it a point to compare Tollywood to Hollywood and pin point the stupidity in Telugu films, and enjoys a film for what it is, this film is for you. You will like it. This film is not going to do well at the box office, no doubt about that, but this film is what will encourage directors to come up with experimental films, push actors and convince them to accept such roles, and therefore, will be a treat to people who love and care about good Telugu cinema. Also, this film is not about changing the commercial formula of Telugu films but it is merely the introduction of a new genre into Tollywood. A genre that gives the Telugu audience something non-cliche to watch.

Ramesh’s Ruthless Revenge

Meher Ramesh.

I will never be able to forget the first time I learnt this name. It was when I graduated with a B.Tech degree and was doing nothing but hanging out with friends and wasting money. During this time, I pulled along with me two very good friends who couldn’t help but abide by the rules of friendship when I tortured them to help satisfy my movie maniac soul. We covered Hollywood, Bollywood, and Tollywood, and if I could convince them, Kollywood as well. Since my other two friends weren’t as jobless as I was, the mission was usually carried out over the weekends. If we didn’t get tickets for a particular show, I would take it very personally. I would take the pain to get hold of the guy behind the counter and say, “Anna… Please Anna, _______  hero (name changed as per the film) ku periya, periya fan, Anna. Ennaku Telugu teriyada, aana padam pakkanum.” For some reason, the ticket guys were always sympathetic towards people who were non-Telugu speaking and yet fans of Telugu heros. Anyway, that weekend I decided to watch Kantri, a Jr. NTR starer.  We were at a theater on RTC X Roads and the tickets were sold out. No luck with black tickets as well. So I decided to go and enact my little play but my friends hated the idea that I get tickets claiming to be a Jr. NTR fan. I did too. But like I said, I took it too personally so I got the tickets. We were seated at the 9th row from the screen, yes, that close! Jr. NTR’s films always gave me a headache but I thought to myself, “How much worse can it get compared to his previous films?”

Three hours later, I got my answer with a headache that Saridon couldn’t cure for two days. That was the minute Meher Ramesh introduced himself to my head.

KANTRI… BILLA… SHAKTI… SHADOW…  Four mega budgets. Four mega flops.

His latest venture, Shadow, is a film that can directly be placed in the “Vijayendra Varma-Okka Magadu” category. Basically, a revenge story without substance.  It is about how a sincere journalist’s son (Venky) sets out to avenge the death of his father. Now to achieve that mission Venky has to kill at least 5 people. In the chaotic process of doing that, he acts like a memory loss retard, meets the heroine, Taapsee, manages five duets with her, meets his long-lost mother and pregnant sister, and enjoys torturing us by adorning various extremely unnecessary costumes before we are blessed with rolling credits. Phew! Trust me, I was being very brief.

People often claim that Meher Ramesh may make bad movies but they always have a sense of style in them which I believe, is bullshit. Where is the sense of style in Shadow? Shooting a film in Kuala Lampur doesn’t maketh a stylish movie, stylish people do, or at least their designers. Now if Prabhas and Anushka looked classy in Billa, it is most definitely because they are. Making everyone you cast onscreen wear a pressed business suit and expecting that the audience  think you made a rich film does not do the trick. If you have seen Raghav Lawerence’s Don and Rebel, you will know what I mean. And what have you done with poor Mr. Venky. The chimpu look, the numerous finger rings, the over sized black coat, and the ridiculously hideous motor bike. The least the hair stylist could do was take the pains to either patiently straighten Venky’s hair completely or skip using copious amounts of hair spray. About Taapsee, I am not even going to comment unless she stops shopping for clothes from the kids section.

According to me, Meher Ramesh usually copies the entire plot of his film from a previously released film. Kantri was largely taken from Bluffmaster. Billa was an obvious copy/paste from the Tamil film, Billa and I haven’t had the guts to watch Shakti. His innovative approach with Shadow is that he hasn’t picked the entire plot from one film. He has taken parts from various meaningless films and blended them together to churn out utter rubbish. And the best part is, he even plays the original clip alongside with the copied clip. What fun, no? You don’t have to stress at all wondering where you have already seen this before. For instance, you will see that he picked the MS Narayana in the swimming pool shot from Billa. The killing Nagineedu scene was directly picked up from Agnipath. Apparently, he also confessed that he wanted this film to be another Lakshmi that was directed by V.V. Vinayak.  Now, what can I say about a director who confesses to copying? Much has been said about the Gabbar Singh Antakshari scene copy, so I shall rest my case with the plagiarism here.

Moving on to the next item on the plate. Consider Indian cooking, South Indian in particular. Most South Indian dishes have what is called seasoning that is added to almost all curries at the end. Seasoning usually has a basic formula; mustard seeds, jeera, asafetida, curry leaves, red chillis, channa dal, and urad dal, as appropriate. Now you can choose to add some or all of these items to get what you can call, tasty seasoning. But if you go ahead and add toor dal, masoor dal, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it would lead to indigestion. So does a Meher Ramesh film. The guy uses hundreds of talented artists, important people, and yet none of them add value to the film. Although the film includes Nagababu, Srikanth, Aditya Pancholi, Rahul Dev, MS Narayana, Shinde, Kaatraj, Vennala Kishore, Harshavardhan, Rao Ramesh, Nasser, Nagineedu, Subbaraju, Suman and some 10 other talented people, none of them get justified screen space. It’s like the director is in a rush. A rush to establish the reason for revenge, kill the bad guys, reunite the family, and do hundred other odd things in about 2 hours. And, if you like Subbaraju, please don’t watch the film. I thought I could only give Krishna Vasmi the credit for portraying a man who played Chatrapathi as Chakram, now Meher Ramesh has followed suit.

The music. Much cannot be said about the music since it was given by someone who is possession of countless drums, of all kinds, in all sizes. It takes your ears a while to realize that the lyrics are “Vedevado vedevado, he’ll be there where you go, you would even know he’s a shadow” and not just “dedabadooo deedabadooo deedaade dab dab dab”. Meher should probably have stuck with Mani Sharma. But what could good music have done to a stale script anyway.

I believe Meher Ramesh holds us, the audience, responsible for his first three flops and decided that this time he will not spare the audience. Shadow is a story of how Meher Ramesh takes revenge on the Telugu audience each time they cringe at Venky’s playing Chanti while chewing on a lollipop, MS’s comedy, or simply the film’s mindlessness.

I can only begin to imagine the magnanimity of his next audience targeted-revenge venture. Because Meher Ramesh is like King Vikramaditya in Vikram-Betal, chasing the success ghost and never in the mood to give up.

Of mortals and a maniac fly, the ordeal…

Throughout my teenage life, I have had a strong urge to work with or under Trivikram Srinivas. This desire may have majorly sprung due to the innocent jabber of friends around me. My topping the class in English sometimes combined with random successful elocution competitions gave my friends this brilliant idea and they constantly mentioned it to me. Silly cute friends, you know. They also tell you that you can become a cardiologist if you have some sort of fan following among your juniors. “You play with people’s hearts”, with a wink.

Phew! That was quite a drift.

So, I have always looked up to Trivikram for his mastery over the way he can combine subtle comedy with human values. But deep inside my heart I knew this dream can never come to reality solely cause of my lack of grasp on my mother tongue, Telugu. (Oh! I am not very proud of it) I make time to watch every movie of his, even if he has just penned down dialogues for the film. Then came along Srinu Vailta. So I had decided that these are my two most favorite directors in Tollywood. Oftentimes, I have thanked God that I wasn’t entirely restricted to an era where only Dasari Narayana Rao and Raghavendra Rao directed films. These people have delivered blockbusters, no doubt, but I would not be the first one condemning the latter’s obsession with women, fruits, and flowers.

Then came along this mortal director whose work reflects the vision of an arrogant devil and the impeccable grace of the superior Gods. S.S. Rajamouli. In a span of 12 years, with eight super hits, this man has left no stone upturned. Years ago, even when I sat down to watch his first film, I knew I would loathe him as he had been disciplined under the worst possible teacher on earth, Mr. Raghavendra Rao himself.

My friends often ask me, the outright feminist that you are, how can you even sit through a Rajamouli film? He just uses his heroines for songs. My answer is, “Power”. I don’t know what it is exactly about this man, but I hate his guts. I hate it that he makes his antagonists so darn powerful thus having to make his protagonists seem like super-heroes. I hate it that he makes meaningless films that simply have expected story lines. And I hate it that he can make crap and get away with it.

But I love this man for his villains. They are ruthless, arrogant, bloody assholes and have an aura of death around them. Titla, Kaatraj, Bikshu Yadav, and Ramineedu. Since he has such unbelievable super-human antagonists, the hero obviously is THE HERO. I still get jitters when I see Prabhas from Chatrapathi or Ravi Teja from Vikramarkudu. I truly believe, Rajamouli can personify a hero to the highest level, and although totally exaggerated, I cannot help but admire his work. He can also take credit for making me feel the desperate need to watch a film starring a Mega family member. Yes, I am talking about Magadheera.

I see men through his eyes. I mean, what are men if they cannot be frustratingly arrogant and powerful.  Some guys would like to blame cute actors like Siddhu and films like Bommarillu and Ala Modalaindi for raising the bar for qualifying as a boyfriend. I blame Rajamouli for my great expectations in men. They have to be gory, brutal and barbaric and make my life an action packed film.

There is a myth that after starring in a Rajamouli film, all heroes have to face a series of flops before they can get back into the game. I would like to think that nobody would care about barrels of donkey milk, if you have a spoon of cow milk, the quality, quantity funda, I mean. I have always been jinxed when it comes to watching Rajamouli’s films. Being a regular theater goer, I have never watched even one of his films in the theater till date. And trust me, all his films are a must-watch- in-theater types. Something or the other always pops up. I remember being broke and still wanting to drive for four hours just so that I could watch Magadheera on big screen. I was torn between hating Ram Charan and wanting to spend a 100 bucks to watch him in a theater. Eventually, the Rajamouli jinx took over.

Just after the Magadheera collection craze had subsided, Rajamouli announced that he would cast Sunil, a not very handsome comedian, as the protagonist in his next film. I had no absolute doubt his choice. This man wouldn’t settle for normal victory, you see.  But then came the heights of guts. Eega.

His latest flick is the revenge story of a fly. A story where a lover boy is killed, and born again, as a fly and makes life a living hell for his murderer. Stupid story, and an even more stupid cast. Then, again, stupid me. The jinx struck again and it turns out that currently I have no Telugu-speaking friends in town to accompany me to watch the film. I tried to convince my mallu roommate and she thinks I am ridiculously cranky to go watch a maniac fly. I have decided to break the jinx this time. I AM going to watch the film at the nearest theater tomorrow. Alone.

If the cutthroat director has the balls to challenge the audience to watch a stupid fly, I can bet it ought to be super good!

The Tollywood HERO Worship

DISCLAIMER: The following content is not advisable for people with strong aggressive hearts and fanatic minds. All characters and incidents in this post are NOT fictitious and all resemblance to K. Shiva Shankara Vara Prasad and Co.  is intentional.

I must have been about 10 years when I made this list. Yes, I thought I was sure and this list would be the final one. Nothing more, nothing less.  It was a list of requirements that my life-partner had to fulfill.

  • He should not have beard or a mustache.
  • He should not eat meat, drink alcohol, and smoke.
  • He should either be an ex-student from the Sri Sathya Sai Institutes or be a Sai devotee.
  • He should NOT be a fan of Chiranjeevi.

As a kid I was a huge fan of Venkatesh. It was probably because he played all the good lovey-dovey roles. He was always the nice man at the end of the show. He never really planned murders or killed people for revenge. I never thought I would ever stop being in love with Venky. At least not until I saw Mahesh smoke on-screen. It happened during the first 5 minutes of Okkadu. (Yes, It was 2003 and I had left the second requirement far behind). I strongly believed this guy had intense eyes. They spoke volumes. Years rolled by and he didn’t appear on the screen as often as I would have liked to see him. Anyways, keeping the first requirement aside, I was hopelessly  drawn to the rough arrogance of Ravi Teja. Then I realized I couldn’t be certain. Most of the younger guys had some charm too. They were either tall and handsome or made good films and acted really really well. Although most of my friends have known me to be a huge fan of Mahesh’s, all that I care about these days is a novel and decent story line. Venky, Mahesh, and Ravi Teja are very violent and noisy people. They fight a lot on-screen.

Crushes are like first love in one particular way. As people believe, we are never really over our first love. I hold the same thing true for a crush. You  are over them and leading your very own happy life. Bham! One fine morning you come across them and you think, for one single second, “Oh my god! He is still so cute.”  When someone sends me a picture like this one, all that comes to my mind is, “Look at him in the Thums up picture. He is such a cute tomato.” Who cares about the salesman part! He has his life and I have mine. I’m definitely not going to buy an idea mobile or drink only Thums up just because he endorses them. I prefer Saridon for a headache and I am not sure what the other two advertisements are for.  He makes ads or movies, who really cares? He is a piece of handsomeness and the joy I derive from that is enough.

Coming back to the list of requirements, a number of people have asked me, “Why the fourth one? It’s kinda funny.” Well, I don’t know for sure either. I think it’s probably because of the way people absorb movies into their system. I’m not sure if all other states in India are this enthusiastically frenetic about their movies. It surprises and suffocates me. It was never officially declared, but the name Chiranjeevi is a religious faith that hundreds of thousands of people sincerely abide by. People behave like he is GOD. I do not object to his dancing and acting skills. He is a strong man, worked hard, and is an excellent actor. But luck did play a role. I would secretly like to believe that he got lucky catching a few famous novels by Yandamuri Veerendranath and combined them with Maestro Illayaraja’s music and made his way up the golden ladder his father-in-law laid down for him.

Hero worship stands true in its literal sense with him, no pun intended. People worship him in a manner that is overly done. He is a nice person owing to his work with the blood and eye donation work. But frankly,you should be the reason you donate your blood. Not his birthday. People take everything about him way too seriously. Some of them out there would give up their lives for him. Isn’t he just supposed to be entertainment? Something that keeps us occupied when we need to take a break. He is a topic in most of their parties. People fight over him, his caste, his work, his enemies, his extended family, and to add to it, his latest political drama. His fans are aggressive people. If you say one word against him you are dead meat. They fight over the number days his movies run for, the money he makes, and the so called collections. You are never going to get a share of it anyways. I have known people who only buy the drinks that he endorses. And that makes me want to yell, “GROW UPPPPP!!!” They will not let you go until you agree with them, that he is the savior of A.P born to redeem us of all our sins and take us to the promised-land. I am so tempted to talk about his fans pulping “the sseppu zzeevithaa” couple for their opinion on his entry into politics. But, again, they are a lost cause. I also do not want to include in this post, the extreme fanatical clashes between the Chiranjeevi fans and Balakrishna fans. That one I could compare to the battle of Kurukshetra. Oh! Sorry. That battle lasted for 18 days. This one doesn’t seem to come to an end even 18 years later. So let’s ignore that for now. Let us also ignore the cat fight between Manchu Mohan Babu and this guy during the Vajrotsamavam Fest. This Tom and Jerry couple, as he claims them to be, need no chasing around by us.

I do not say people compare him to God with no solid evidence. As the Hindu mythology goes, we have and pray to a number of Gods. Take Lord Shiva’s family for example; we pray to Ganesh, Parvathi, Shiva, and Murgan, similarly this fan lot automatically adores Ram Charan, Allu Arjun, and the very great Pawan Kalyan. They have to. I guess it’s in their holy book (whatever that is called). So, potentially, like he wasn’t entertaining enough he got his Co. in too. This gives the directors no choice but to cast these monkeys and we are left with no choice when our friends drag us to the zoo to watch them. Having friends who are silly fans chisels you and makes you a true friend. You are put in extremely frightening situations where you have to choose to stand up to your friend all along. My rules of friendship found me in the same theater 3 times to watch the film Jalsa. After being down with a fever for a few days, I have vowed never to watch another film that stars this man again, ever!! Has anyone even looked at Ram Charan closely? I look at men who dare to argue with me on this and doubtfully wonder, “Are men, who constantly crib about the actual handsome actors, insecure? Does appreciating this guy make them more secure?”

I have seen people waste time and money on this man and it compels me to think, “Is he worth all this? Do people realize that he isn’t even going to notice that you made a 30 minute video on his achievements, that you celebrated his birthday in some remote corner in the U.S, or that you got drunk and got into a fist fight for trying to save his ass? Did he even bother to consult you when he decided that he couldn’t handle the pressure of politics and dissolved his political party? He was busy hugging the political party that he had mocked for years and he left you to argue with your “other” friends, and defend him like he was family.” And what IS with this whole “Annayya, please come back into the films” thing. I have tried to and do not understand it. The man is an actor just like anyone in his field. He had decided to retire (or whatever!!) and here you are pulling him back and expecting him to lead you to the promised-land again.

In graduate school, I was once introduced to a guy who danced extremely well and was real cute. He probably din’t even realize that I existed after the introduction but I had a huge crush on him for a while. As per the rule more than 80% of guys who are born in the 80’s and 90’s are his fans. So was this guy and I knew it. I grew out of the crush, and moved out of graduate school. I once happened to notice that he put a picture of himself with his hero on Facebook. There were a number of people who thought this was indeed a golden opportunity and behaved like this guy’s soul had now been blessed. I looked at the picture in dismay. I say dismay because all I could think was, “Dude, you look and dance way better than your man. You are. And if you tried your hand in Tollywood you would rock.” I just could not bring myself to say it.

Life’s lessons have taught me that we cannot have a list of requirements. Nothing is in our control. Waiting for a guy born in the 20% of the non-fan group doesn’t seem likely. I might have to watch “Gabbar Singh” or the “old man himself” on screen in the future because my boy-friend wants me to, but picturing a little incident of the future brings a satisfying smile on my face. If my kid comes running to me asking me for money to watch the latest movie starring Pawan’s son, Ram Charan’s son or Allu Arjun’s son, I am going to whack his ass hard and not give him any. And if my husband ever dares to help my kids out, he will be denied the benefits of the house for a week.

FOOTNOTE: All the angry ones better remember! If you were dumb enough to ignore the disclaimer and are reading this now,  I’m the queen on my wordpress site. That gives me the authority to write what I want to with additional benefits of approving or trashing and spaming your nitwit comments.