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Rajanna, a film to pamper Telangana?

There seems to be a change in the attitude of Telugu film directors towards the Telangana region in the last couple of years.

Earlier, the Telangana culture and dialect were used in the Telugu films only to make fun – the dialect was mostly used for comedians or at the most henchmen of villains.

But after the aggressive revival of the movement for separate Telangana state, especially in the last two years, the film makers have changed their viewpoint towards Telangana. And with the threat of bifurcation looming large on the state, the film makers stared making movies on Telangana background.

Suddenly, Telugu heroes have started speaking Telangana dialect, seriously and not for fun, as could be seen in the latest blockbuster film Dookudu.

The producers and directors have started looking for themes based on Telangana history and culture.

Rajanna, the latest film of Akkineni Nagarjuna, should be viewed in this context. If Nagarjuna or director Vijayendra Prasad really wanted to produce a film on Telangana history, there were umpteen stories that can inspire the present-day audiences. Yet, they churned out a fiction, of course mixed with instances that happened during the Nizam period.

As a film, it was a great piece of work by Nagarjuna and the director. And of course, it was a musical treat from Keervani. But if one were to view it from the perspective of Telangana history, one would not be very much impressed, if not disappointed. It does not appeal to the hardcore Telangana audiences, if they go to the film to know about their land and their culture.

On the other hand, it is clearly evident that it was made by an Andhra film maker with no thorough knowledge about the Telangana history (Mind you, the word Telangana is nowhere mentioned in the film).

Nagarjuna’s dialogues are powerful, no doubt, but they do not smell the native Telangana dialect; or rather, they appear artificial at times. When he interacts with the British officer, Nagarjuna’s dialogues are in chaste Telugu of Krishna district, but when he comes to the village, he tries to speak in the Telangana dialect.

Some times, he goes back to his Andhra dialect. There is no uniformity in the dialogues. Perhaps, it would have been better had the dialogue-writing been entrusted to a Telangana writer. The songs are superbly written and composed. Like all the Keervani songs, they too are melodious and heart-touching. But again, looking in the Telangana perspective, the nativity was missing.

The film was supposed to be made in 1947-48 (Nizam’s rule ended on September 17, 1948) and it was during the period that the Telangana armed struggle was at its peak. However, it was confined mostly to Nalgonda, Khammam and Warangal districts; and to some extent Mahbubnagar, but not in Adilabad, which mostly had the influence of Maharashtrian culture. It was entirely a tribal land and therefore, the kind of feudal culture visible in Nalgonda and Khammam was not heard of in Adilabad.

Moreover, the Manukota gadi mentioned in the film is in Mahbubabad in Warangal district, bordering Khammam; but not in Adilabad. And secondly, Nelakondapalli is a village in Khammam district (native of Bhakta Ramdas), which again witnessed the feudal oppression. So, it would have been appropriate had the director referred to it as a village in Khammam.

Another notable point is that there were not many instances of Dorasanis of feudal lords behaving so cruelly in the Telangana region as was shown in the film. However, there were a few places like Visunuru of Nalgonda district, where Janamma, mother of Visnuru Deshmukh Repaka Ramachandra Reddy, used to behave ruthlessly with the villagers. May be the character in the film was inspired from her.

Anyway, Rajanna is, no doubt, worth watching as any other good film based on a fiction. But please don’t watch the film in the Telangana perspective.

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