M. L. NARASIMHAM
A hero, another hero, song and dance routines, drama and melodrama everything was there at the celebrations to mark 75 years of Telugu talkie.
It didn't have the pizzazz or panache of Hollywood, but for three days between January 26 and 28 Telugu filmdom held the people of Andhra Pradesh in a thrall. The International Convention Centre, Hyderabad reverberated with pomp and show celebrating the 75th birthday of Telugu talkie, used to hyperbole, the industry dubbed it: Amma puttina roju. Paying a befitting tribute to Kalamathalli that nurtured their growth and gave them almost a demigod status were superstars, stars, star-technicians, producers, directors and the list reads like a who's who of the film industry from the past to the present. An occasion for reminiscing and nostalgia for the seniors, it was wonderful to see the present generation receiving them with reverence and interacting with them. "I feel elated when I think that I am also a part of this long history of cinema and also this occasion gave me an opportunity to meet my old friends - A. Nageswara Rao, Gummadi, K. Viswanath, `Shavukaru' Janaki, Krishnakumari, K.R. Vijaya, Jamuna," said B. Saroja Devi. Other seniors echoed similar sentiments. A.N.R went down memory lane when Chiranjeevi reminded him of the rain song, Chitapata chinukulu paduthuvunte (Athmabalam) while a blushing Saroja Devi his heroine in the film and sat next to him in the auditorium that burst into peels of laughter. The stars shared many such interesting anecdotes.Besides honouring the veterans, the show was marked by spectacular entertainment from national and international performers and our own top heroes. Rarely do we find a Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Nagarjuna or a Mohan Babu perform on stage. Apart from the stage shows, it is the exhibitions the one on N. T. Rama Rao and on A.N.R. `Film News' Anandan's exhibits of rare photos cornered attention. When in a childlike enthusiasm, the top stars carried the weapons used by the legendary N. T. Rama Rao in his films and when Balakrishna fascinated by the Mitchel camera used by ace lensman Marcus Bartley for the immortal classics, Pathala Bhairavi and Mayabazaar took pictures they looked like any other movie fan!In contrast, there was a low budget show running simultaneously at Jubilee Hall, Public Gardens organised by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in association with A.P. Film and TV Development Corporation. The austere show started on January 25 and lasted for a week with seminars, exhibits and exhibition of old classics (from January 29 to 31). IndiaPosts brought out a special commemorative cover to mark the occasion. The immediate fallout of the event was that it generated a tremendous amount of awareness among the public more so in the young generation about the bygone movie era. The dailies and tabloids to Trade Guide to Internet everyone carried special editions and articles, TV channels showed classics like Nagaiah's Thyagayya.
Jarring notesGlamour and gossip, cinema and controversies seem to go like hand and glove. The audience and the television viewers were treated with a different kind of entertainment and melodrama, when two top stars both villains turned heroes made emotional outbursts and a top director intervened to `cut' the emotions and put a subham card in the end.In conducting a mammoth event like the one at the International convention centre it is not easy to please every one. The slips and bickering are inevitable. The organisers, a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced producers gave emphasis more on the pomp than on the genesis of Telugu cinema and its stalwarts some of whom they left out, felt many. They had to face the wrath of the media as well as their own folk for the inadequacies. Though FDC has stored 15 films, it is felt that a full-fledged film archives on the lines of the one at Pune is the need of the hour. Hope that is not left for the time capsule to decide!