27 September, 2020

Other Talkies

Cinema in the South found self-expression in language

Other Talkies
In the early years of Independence, did South Indian cinema celebrate the new nation? Did it allow itself to be submerged in the uniform identity of being Indian, being Hindustani? More than the nation taking precedence, southern cinema of the '50s was busy nurturing its own regional or linguistic identity. Precisely the reason why it gave rise to figures like M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) in Tamil, N.T. Rama Rao (NTR) in Telugu and Rajkumar in Kannada, who were not mere stars but iconic figures for the specific linguistic cultures to which they belonged.

In the Tamil region, the Dravidian movement was already in place before India got its Independence. The stalwarts of this movement (Annadurai, MGR and Karunanidhi) had a theatre background and soon discovered that the hypnotic medium of cinema could be a propaganda tool. Meanwhile, in the princely state of Mysore, the early years of Kannada cinema was in the bhakti mode, while Telugu cinema was on an excursion with mythology.

Film historian M.K. Raghavendra says Kannada cinema did not...


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