[Reader-list] Nativity in Mythologicals

T. Vishnu Vardhan vishnu at cscsban.org
Mon Jun 6 13:28:21 IST 2005

Hi, this is the fifth posting from the project Documenting the Death of a 
Genre: Mythologicals in Telugu Cinema.

 From the interviews that I have done of few yester year stars, technicians 
and critics one thing has interested me a lot.

That is the nativity in Telugu cinema or as some call telugudanam in telugu 
cinema.  Nativity is seen as oen of the important reasons for the success 
of N.T. Rama Rao both in films and politics.  And when I asked where and 
how does he embody telugudanam/telugu nativity... the answer is "his 
mythological roles", "the fluency with which he delivers (lengthy and 
grandhik) dialogues", "his diction", etc.

In the third posting, I outlined the critique of Telugu mythologicals of 
1930s which failed to use high grandhik language.  One can understand this 
as a pre-cursor to the standardization of Telugu in films, before the 
formation of Andhra Pradesh, and which has a different trajectory in telugu 

But the interesting and surprising thing for me is that this high-flown 
Telugu in mythologicals being seen as an important aspects of nativity or 
telugudanam.  Why because, almost no Telugu speaks in such language in 
her/his day to day life.  Further, I have come across some people 
critiquing socials of the same time (produced in Madras) for lacking 
nativity, because these films were shot in and around Madras.  That means, 
some of the viewers had problems with the geographic location.  For 
instance, one person writes that in so and so film they showed a village 
but it does not look like a Telugu/'Andhra' village.  And most of the time 
socials were seen as representing Telugu nativity/Telugudanam or in other 
words, it is expected from socials.

Whereas Mythologicals were never burdened with such a demand except for the 
critique of using 'non-standard' language as I mentioned.  But this highly 
grandhicised Telugu is what even people like A. Nageshwara Rao see as 

Listening to these interviews, I was trying to think and read more about 
A lot of people (academic and non-academic) mention nativity, but I hardly 
came across any description of it.  Everybody seems to have an 
understanding of what nativity is, and outline various (sometimes wiered 
things) which represent nativity.

Specifically in the context of the recent Telugu cinema (Gemini), some of 
the viewers said that the heorine in the film lacked nativity.  And the 
wonder is that the heroine in the film is a marwadi.  But the viewers 
expect a certain 'native' representation of this marwadi heroine.  And lot 
of Telugu film critics, directors, etc. talk about nativity in their 
films.  But again the biggest surprise is that almost all the film songs 
are shot abroad.  Further, this nativity is no where near to a realistic 
representation of the world we see or in other words 'realism'.

One more instance, is that of Bapu's and K.Vishwanath's films (both are 
popular film directors of 80s) which people think and write have a lot of 
nativity.  And there are songs where the hero sings about the heroine and 
says 'you are like a Bapu drawn picture'.  And gongura is seen as 
representing telugudanam in cuisine, which atleast from the part I come 
from hardly eat.

Looking forward for comments and useful bibliography.

More anon....
Vishnu Vardhan. T

T. Vishnu Vardhan
Centre for the Study of Culture and Society,
466, 9th Cross, 1st Block, Jayanagar,
Bangalore - 560011.
e-mail: vishnu at cscsban.org
         thvishnu_viva at yahoo.com
Tel. no. 080-26562986
mobile no. +919845207308
fax no. 080-26562991  
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