Telangana dialect goes mainstream in Telugu cinema

For decades before formation of the Telangana state, the Telugu dialect used in this region was not considered mainstream by Telugu filmmakers and actors.

The Telangana dialect was often used to ridicule a character, and this portray was time and again considered offensive by people involved in the movement for a separate statehood. Films which were made on the Telangana movement alone had the local dialect before 2014, but now the tide has turned.

Shekhar Kammula, a big name in Telugu cinema, who made movies for the last decade and half using earlier propagated dialect has taken an uncharted path by making a movie in Telangana using the local dialect. His first such movie ‘Fidaa’ starring Varun Tej and Sai Pallavi was a huge hit.

Irrespective of the dialect, the film was well received by the masses of Telangana, Rayalaseema, and Andhra regions. His latest film ‘Love Story’, fully laced with Telangana flavour, has hit the box office jackpot.

“When I decided on a film script native to the Telangana region, I did not have any doubts whether people will welcome it or not. I know Telangana dialect and Telangana rituals and practices is now a part of mainstream Telugu cinema,” said King Johnson, producer of ‘Assalem Jarigindi’, a movie shot in various locations across Telangana, and is scheduled for a theatrical release on October 22.

“My movie also has a song on ‘kallu’ (toddy – a drink more prominent in Telangana) and I am confident this catchy number will be a massive hit among the masses,” he added.

“First Varun Tej, now Naga Chaitanya, many prominent actors and actresses are working on Telangana-centric scripts. Young actors from Mega (Chirnjeevi) family, Akkineni family, and every other famous family in Telugu cinema are now open to work in languages which their predecessors did not. This is a welcome move and will help bridge the cultural gap between multiple regions within these two States,” said Tekmal Sreekar Reddy, an executive producer in the Telugu film industry.

“Filmmakers are now obligated to accept Telangana as a reality. This region, its social or cultural practices, its soul, its struggles, and diversities here were ignored in the past. But after the division of the State, many filmmakers will be compelled to embrace elements of Telangana into their scripts when they want to shoot in Hyderabad or other parts of the youngest State in the country,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

The Telangana movement highlighted discrimination in school textbooks, state sanctioned cultural festivals, active endorsement of certain kind of Telugu in administrative activities while ignoring the heterogeneous nature of Telugu language were raised.

The movement also responded to Telugu cinema by attacking the hegemonic structures of the industry, and its links to the political apparatus dominated by Seema-Andhra.

Activists then argued that film Industry was given prime land at heavily subsidized prices, besides production subsidies, soft loans, and tax incentives by successive governments to facilitate the shift of the industry from Chennai to Hyderabad.