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About Telugu Cinema

The Cinema of Andhra Pradesh (also known as Telugu cinema or Tollywood) is the Indian film industry based in Hyderabad, India producing motion pictures in the Telugu language.Since 1909, Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu was involved in many aspects of Indian cinemas history like producing short films, travelling to different regions in Asia to promote film work. In 1921, He produced Bhishma Pratigna the first silent film in the state. He is cited as the father of Telugu Cinema.

Early development: 1912-30

The Telugu film industry originated with silent films in 1912, with the production and release of Bhisma Pratighna in 1921.The film was directed by Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu and his son R. S. Prakash. The two, with Yaragudipati Varada Rao, would go on to produce and direct dozens of films throughout the decade, casting theatre actors in major roles.They established a long-lasting precedent of focusing exclusively on religious themes; Nandanar, Gajendra Moksham, and Matsyavatar, three of their most noted productions, centred on religious figures, parables, and morals.

Rise of the talkie: 1931-1947

On 15 September 1931, the first Telugu film with audible dialogue, Bhakta Prahlada, was produced by H.M. Reddy. Hence, every year, Telugu Cinema Day is observed on 15 September, commemorating its release.Popularly known as talkies, films with sound quickly grew in number and popularity. In 1934, the industry saw its first major commercial success with Lavakusa. Directed by C. Pullaiah and starring Parupalli Subbarao and Sriranjani in lead roles, the film attracted unprecedented numbers of viewers to theatres and thrust the young industry into mainstream culture.

In 1933, East India Film Company has produced its first Indian film Sati Savithri in Telugu, Shot in Calcutta on a budget of INR 75 thousand, based on a popular stage play by Mylavaram Bala Bharathi Samajam, the film was directed by father of Telugu theater movement, C. Pullaiah, casting stage actors Vemuri Gaggaiah and Dasari Ramathilakam as Yama and Savithri, respectively.The blockbuster film has received an honorary diploma at Venice Film Festival.The first film studio in South India, Durga Cinetone was built in 1936 by Nidamarthi Surayya in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh.

By 1936, the mass appeal of film allowed directors to move away from religious and mythological themes.That year, under the direction of Krithiventi Nageswara Rao, Prema Vijayam, a film focusing on social issues, was released. Its success prompted the production of dozens of other immensely successful 'social films', notably 1939's Vandemataram, touching on societal problems like the practice of giving dowry, Telugu films increasingly focused on contemporary living: 29 of the 96 films released between 1937 and 1947 had social themes.

In 1938, Gudavalli Ramabrahmam, has co-produced and directed the social problem film, Mala Pilla which dealt with the crusade against untouchability, prevailing in pre-independent India.In 1939, He directed Raithu Bidda, which was banned by the British administration in the region, for depicting the uprise of the peasantry among the Zamindar's during the British raj.

1940 film, Vishwa Mohini, is the first Indian film, depicting the Indian movie world. The film was directed by Y. V. Rao and scripted by Balijepalli Lakshmikanta Kavi, starring Chittor V. Nagaiah in the lead role.1951 film Malliswari is the first Telugu film, to be screened at International film festivals like Asia Pacific Film Festival. The film had a public release with thirteen prints along with Chinese subtitles at Beijing on 14, March 1953, and a 16 mm film print was also screened in the United States.The film was directed by Bommireddy Narasimha Reddy, the first person to receive the Dada Saheb Phalke Award from South Indian film industry. He was the first Indian film personality, to receive Padmabhushan in 1974, and the Doctor of Letters honour.

The outbreak of World War II and the subsequent resource scarcity caused the British Raj to impose a limit on the use of filmstrip in 1943 to 11,000 feet, a sharp reduction from the 20,000 feet that had been common till then.As a result, the number of films produced during the war was substantially lower than in previous years. Nonetheless, before the ban, an important shift occurred in the industry: Independent studios formed, actors and actresses were signed to contracts limiting whom they could work for, and films moved from social themes to folklore legends.Ghantasala Balaramayya, has directed the mythological Seetarama Jananam under his home production, Prathiba Picture, marking veteran Akkineni Nageswara Rao's Telugu film acting debut in 1944.

1951 to 2013

1951 film Patala Bhairavi was the first South Indian film which was showcased at the first India International Film Festival, held in Mumbai on 24 January 1952. 1956 film Tenali Ramakrishna has garnered the All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film. As per the CBFC report of 2011, the industry is placed second in India, in terms of films produced yearly. The industry holds a memorandum of understanding with Motion Picture Association of America to combat video piracy. Contemporary entertainers like Dookudu (2011), Eega (2012), and Gabbar Singh (2012) each have grossed more than INR 100 crore at the box office

Industry

Moola Narayana Swamy and B. N. Reddy founded Vijaya Vauhini Studios in 1948 based in Chennai.Indian film doyen L. V. Prasad, who started his film career with Bhakta Prahlada, founded Prasad Studios in 1956 based in Chennai.However, through the efforts of D. V. S. Raju, the Telugu film industry completely shifted its base from Chennai to Hyderabad in the early 1990s, during N. T. Rama Rao's political reign.

Veteran actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao relocated to Hyderabad and has developed Annapurna Studios. The Telugu film industry is one of the three largest film producers in India. About 245 Telugu films were produced in 2006, the highest in India for that year. Film studios in Andhra Pradesh, developed by D. Ramanaidu and Ramoji Rao, are involved in prolific film production and employment.There is a fair amount of dispersion among the Indian film industries. Many successful Telugu films have been remade by the Hindi and Tamil film industries. The industry also remakes a few Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam films. Some Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada films are dubbed into Telugu on release.

The digital cinema network company UFO Moviez marketed by Southern Digital Screenz (SDS) has digitized several cinemas in the state of Andhra Pradesh.The Film and Television Institute of Andhra Pradesh, Ramanaidu Film School and Annapurna International School of Film and Media are some of the largest film schools of India

In the years 2005, 2006 and 2008 the Telugu film industry, has produced the largest number of films in India exceeding the number of films produced in Bollywood.The industry holds the Guinness World Record for the largest film production facility in the world.The Prasads IMAX located in Hyderabad is the world's largest 3D IMAX screen, and the most attended cinema screen in the world.The state of Andhra Pradesh, consists of the most number of cinema theatres in India.

Patala Bhairavi (1951), Malliswari (1951), Devadasu (1953), Mayabazar (1957), Nartanasala (1963), Maro Charithra (1978), Maa Bhoomi (1979), Sankarabharanam (1979), Sagara Sangamam (1983), and Siva (1989) are the ten Telugu films, listed among CNN-IBN's hundred finest Indian films of all time

The Nandi Awards is the highest award ceremony for excellence in Telugu cinema, Theatre and Television, presented annually at Lalitha Kala Thoranam in Hyderabad, India,by Film, Television and Theatre Development Corporation of the Government of Andhra Pradesh."Nandi" means "bull", the awards being named after the big granite bull at Lepakshi-a cultural and historical symbol of Andhra Pradesh.

Commercial stance

Known for being commercially consistent,Telugu cinema had its influence over commercial cinema in India.As one of the revenue generating film industries, Telugu film production accounts for one percent of the gross domestic product of Andhra Pradesh.Chiranjeevi's 1992 film Gharana Mogudu, directed by K. Raghavendra Rao, is the first Telugu film to gross over INR 10 crore at the box office.Nandamuri Balakrishna's 2001 film Narasimha Naidu,directed by B.Gopal,is the first Telugu Film to gross over 20c at box office

2006 film, Bommarillu was released worldwide with 72 prints. Owing to the success of the film, the number of reels grew to about hundred.It collected a distributors share of INR5 crore in its opening week in India.Released in six major metros in the United States, the film collected $73,200 (then approximately INR0.3 crore) within the first four days of screening.A September 2006 survey done in the United States by a popular entertainment portal revealed that the film was watched by an Indian expatriate population of 65,000, which generated a revenue of INR3 crore at that time.A cumulative gross revenue for the film was reported to be as INR25 crore including INR3.5 crore from overseas, the largest for any Telugu film at that time. Owing to this path breaking trade, the film was remade into Tamil, Bengali, Oriya and Hindi

2006 action film, Pokiri has been remade in Hindi, Tamil and Kannada in the following two years owing to the film's commercial success. It was screened at the IIFA film festival held in Dubai in 2006.Walt Disney Pictures co-produced Anaganaga O Dheerudu, making it the first South Indian production by Disney. 2011 action comedy, Dookudu was released among seventy nine screens in the USA, the Los Angeles Times quoted it as The biggest hit you've never heard of.In the rest of north, east and west India, it opened up in 21 cities. The film set a box office record by collecting a gross of more than INR1 billion at the time.

As of 2012, Gabbar Singh is the highest grossing Telugu film of all time.2012 film Eega is showcased among the Cannes Film Festival's market section (Marchedu Film), one of the largest film markets in the world.Enhanced technology among live action animation, digital compositing, and special effects paved the way for upgrading from established cinematic norms. Visual effects based fantasy films like Magadheera, Arundhati and Eega emerged as blockbusters. Pete Draper, P. C. Sanath, Chakri Toleti and V. Srinivas Mohan are some of the visual effects professional's from the state known for their works in Telugu films

Critical reception

The industry is one of the largest producers of folklore, fantasy, mythological and melodrama films.Kadiri Venkata Reddy and B. Vittalacharya were pioneers of this genre.Mayabazar and Patala Bhairavi got critical acclaim at the inaugural International Film Festival of India in the 1950s. In 2013, IBN Live's Poll listed Mayabazar as the finest Indian film of all time. Nartanasala won the best art direction award at the Afro Asian film festival in Jakarta. Donga Ramudu directed by K. V. Reddy was archived in the curriculum of the Film and Television Institute of India,1967 film Ummadi Kutumbam was selected by Film Federation of India as one of its entries to the 1978 Moscow Film Festival

Sankarabharanam won the Prize of the Public at the Besancon Film Festival of France in the year 1981.Thilaadanam won the New Currents Award at the 7th Busan International Film Festival of South Korea. B. Narsing Rao produced Maa Bhoomi which was showcased at Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Cairo and Sidney Film Festivals. He directed, Daasi and Matti Manushulu which won the Diploma of Merit award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Maa Ooru directed by him won the Media Wave Award at the Hungary International festival of visual arts. In 2003, he directed Hari Villu which was nominated avant-garde at the 56th Cannes Film Festival. Cinematographer turned director, M. V. Raghu has directed the Neo-realistic film Kallu (1988), scripted by Gollapudi Maruti Rao has received thirty state awards and has garnered special mention from the CBFC Jury.

Bapu's Seeta Kalyanam got critical acclaim at the BFI London Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival.Swati Mutyam (1986) is the only Telugu film to be sent by India as its official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards. Swati Mutyam and Sagara Sangamam got critical acclaim at Asia Pacific Film Festival.Oka Oori Katha has won special awards at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and Carthage Film Festival.Vanaja won several international awards including the first prize in the live-action feature film category at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. 2012 film Dream, has garnered the Royal Reel Award at the Canada International Film Festival. S. S. Rajamouli's Eega was nominated for six awards including Best film, Best Cinematographer, Best Special effects, Best Music Composer, Best Editor and Best supporting Actor at the Madrid International Film Festival.

Cast and crew

Chittor V. Nagaiah was one of the most influential actors of South Indian cinema. S. V. Ranga Rao is one of the first Indian actors of the time to receive international award at Indonesian Film Festival, held in Jakarta for Narthanasala in 1963.N. T. Rama Rao was one of the most commercially successful Telugu actors of his time. K. N. T. Sastry and Pattabhirami Reddy have garnered international recognition for their pioneering work in Parallel Cinema. Adurthi Subba Rao, has garnered eight National Film Awards, the highest individual awards in Telugu cinema, for his pioneering work as a director. Akkineni Kutumba Rao's Patha Nagaramlo Pasivadu received Cairo International Film Festival's, Merit Certificate for best feature.

Dasari Narayana Rao has directed the most number of films in Telugu, he directed Meghasandesam, which got critical acclaim at Cannes and Moscow Film Festival.Actor and producer, Krishna Ghattamaneni is credited with producing many technological firsts in Telugu film Industry like the first eastman color film Eenadu (1982), the first Cinemascope film Alluri Seetharama Raju, first 70mm film Simhasanam, first DTS film Telugu Veera Levara (1988) and introducing cowboy and James Bond styles to the Telugu screen.

Emergence of director Jandhyala in the 1980s saw the growth of comedy film genre in Telugu cinema. Singeetam Srinivasa Rao and Ram Gopal Varma have garnered unique identity for bringing out new genre in Telugu film making. Contemporary film maker's like Sekhar Kammula, Chandra Sekhar Yeleti, Mohan Krishna Indraganti, Deva Katta, G. Neelakanta Reddy and Narasimha Nandi have made their mark among the Indian panorama sections of the International Film Festival of India in the last decade.

Noted film editor from the state, A. Sreekar Prasad, known for his initial works in Telugu films of the 1980s, has garnered national recognition for film editing across multiple languages of Indian cinema.S. V. Ranga Rao, Kanta Rao, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Savitri and Sobhan Babu are the actors who received the erstwhile Rashtrapati Award for best performance in a leading role. Sharada, Archana, Vijayashanti and P. L. Narayana are the actors to receive the National Film Award for best performance in acting from this industry. Chiranjeevi, was listed among "The men who changed the face of the Indian Cinema" by IBN-live India

Brahmanandam, a Telugu actor, holds a Guinness World Record for acting in the most films in the same language. S.P. Balasubrahmanyam is a multilingual playback singer from Telugu film industry has won National Film Awards across four languages. He holds the record of having recorded the most number of songs for any male playback singer and has received 25 Nandi Awards from Andhra Pradesh.Sri Sri was one of the influential Telugu film lyricists of his time, who garnered national honours like Sahitya Akademi Award, Best Lyricist and Soviet Land Nehru Award for his pioneering work in Telugu poetry and film lyrics.

Susarla Dakshinamurthi, Parupalli Ramakrishnaiah Pantulu, Ogirala Ramachandra Rao, Pithapuram Nageswara Rao, Tanguturi Suryakumari, and Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna are one of the influential music composers of south Indian cinema. Music composers such as Pendyala Nageswara Rao, R. Sudarshanam and R. Goverdhanam duo made contribution to folklore and mythological films. Madhavapeddi Satyam, P. Adinarayana Rao, Gali Penchala Narasimha Rao, Chellapilla Satyam, P. B. Sreenivas, S. P. Kodandapani, G. K. Venkatesh, S. Hanumantha Rao, have contributed their work extensively for films with social relevance themes.Ghantasala, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, P. Susheela, S. Janaki, M. M. Keeravani, Ramesh Naidu etc., are some of the musicians and playback singers from Andhra Pradesh to receive National recognition. R. P. Patnaik is the current president of Andhra Pradesh Cine Music Association.

Distribution

As of 2012, Dookudu had one of the largest worldwide opening for a Telugu film, releasing globally in 1,600 screens,including 71 in Hyderabad, India. The film became the first Telugu project to release in Botswana and was opened in a single screen with one show by the Telugu Association of Botswana.Dookudu was released over 79 theatres in the United States; the Los Angeles Times quoted Dookudu as "the biggest hit you've never heard of."

Further, it was released in Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Dubai and Finland, the first for a Telugu film, and in regular overseas markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and UK The producers approached the high court for a John Doe order to prevent piracy of the film. It set a box office record for the Telugu film industry by collecting a gross of more than INR1 billion.

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