Tholi Prema to Arjun Reddy: Films that redefined romance in Telugu cinema
Recent Telugu romantic films like Tholi Prema, Arjun Reddy, and Fidaa have pushed the envelope with interesting scripts. Here’s how they have redefined the genre successfully.regional movies Updated: Mar 17, 2018 17:52 IST
After Shape of Water took the Academy Award for Best Picture, I wondered how filmmakers have been pushing the envelope when it comes to the genre of romance. A woman and a fish: would you have dreamt of such a theme? Or that such a film would not just attract viewers but also end up winning the Oscars? Well, it did.
So, closer home, if we look at the Telugu romance films for instance — the industry that was until a few years ago suffering from redundancy — has recently found its rhythm, thanks to young debutant directors who have chipped in to question the status quo.
Their efforts to create mature content that speaks to audience has been successful, as the films have also performed incredibly well at the box office. Here we are going to take a look at five such films starting from Tholi Prema, Ninnu Kori, Arjun Reddy, Fidaa, Pelli Choopulu. These five have changed the way theatre-goers consume films and also proved that content overrides star vehicles any day.
Pelli Choopulu is a movie about an arranged marriage date gone wrong, or in this couple’s case, gone right. Starring Vijay Deverakonda and Ritu Varma, the film is about a food enthusiast who has a talent for cooking and a management student who wants to begin her own business.
When the two meet, the girl says she doesn’t want to get married and the boy is disappointed. But when they are locked together (problematic locks and their mysterious ways of getting people to talk), the mood is not like the popular song, “Hum Tum Ek Kamre mein Bandh Ho” but more like, let’s exchange life stories. A business idea is born out of this meeting and we have quite an interesting love tale.
This 2016 movie could be called the beginning of the change in the romance genre in Telugu Film. Before that, we had interesting movies like Yeto Vellipoyindhi Manasu, Ye Maaya Chesave, Eega, Bommarillu or Nuvvosthante Nenu Odhantana, but they were far and few in between. The last two years have seen a spurt in such films.
The most recent release, Tholi Prema, starring Varun Tej and Raashi Khanna, begins with teenage love and how that changes through time and age. The director shows the characters at three different stages, which makes this film more of a journey. The film received positive response from critics and word of mouth helped it make a dent at the box office.
Fidaa starring Varun Tej and Sai Pallavi is the only film that was not directed by a debutante. Yet, Sekhar Kammula gave the genre a refreshing twist with a female lead who stood by her choices and a male lead who was not the stereotyped ‘leading man’. He did not follow her around to impress her, nor did he take her no for an yes, and he definitely did not fight any goons for the relationship. The way their equation progressed on the silver screen from love to hate and back to love was realistic.
According to Andhra box office, the film did a 267% recovery and collected Rs 90 crore worldwide gross. Produced by Dil Raju, the film managed to perform excellently at US box office to collect $2 million (13.5 crore).
Arjun Reddy was called out for being a sexist, masochistic film where the girl (Shalini Pandey) did not have a say about the boy (Vijay Devarakonda) falling in love with her. But the film was about Arjun Reddy and how he lived his life. It did not glorify the fact that he did that. In fact, there is a dialogue in the film that shows Arjun Reddy championing women’s cause. So, in that case, shouldn’t the director-writer be true to the character? Shouldn’t we as audience be mature enough to understand when Arjun Reddy changes, actually, more like transforms during the climax? This answer came in the form of the exemplary box office collection. The film with a 430% recovery collected Rs 50 crore.
Ninnu Kori dealt with a more mature equation. That of individuals who were once in an intimate relationship. While the girl, played by Nivetha Thomas has moved on and is happily married, the guy has become an alcoholic. Played by Nani, he is hell bent on ruining his career and life. Here, it is about how an ex-girlfriend and her husband help the guy move on. It was received well by the audience, and this reflected in the box office numbers, as this film marked Nani’s biggest opening in his career at that time at Rs 10.6 crore. The film was termed a super hit with final collections of Rs 52.3 crore.
As each of these movies attained success, there is more room for creativity in the industry. Not only in romance genre, but even otherwise, producers and directors have begun to pay attention to the content.