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How patriarchal is the Telugu Film Industry?

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Recent comments by Radhika Apte on the Telugu film Industry stirred up the debate about Patriarchy in the Telugu film Industry. Her comments were specifically against Male Chauvinism in the industry. Having starred in only a handful of Telugu films, how true are her comments, let’s dig.

The Telugu Film Industry, like most industries in the country, is Male-centric as in Patriarchal. As in, most prominent positions in a film, both in front and behind the screens, are tied to men. Starting with the on-screen prominence for men, a handful of roles that were created in the contemporary world over the last decade would be Keerthy Suresh’s in ‘Mahanati’, Anushka’s in ‘Miss Shetty & Mr. Polishetty’ and Samantha’s in ‘Baby’ etc., Every other film that comes out especially the biggies, have a mere, doll-like role for women. Even if that is not the case, more often than not, the girl isn’t smart or needs a saving from the guy. The most recent biggies, ‘Guntur Kaaram’ and ‘Salaar’, hardly have any prominence for the lead actresses. The industry revolves around the top 6 superstars, pushing the writers and directors to make projects match or build on their stardom.

Coming to the off-screen prominence, you rarely see a female technician in TFI. Nandini Reddy of ‘Ala Modalaindi’ fame and Sudha Kongara of ‘Guru’ fame are a few familiar names. In general, Patriarchy is often intertwined with either Narcissism or Male Chauvinism, and most of the big stars despite their good off-screen behavior tend to fall prey to one or the other as a side effect of their stardom. Few Superstars, till recently had a habit of forgetting about mentioning his female leads in pre-release events, which could be of valid reasons but could imply otherwise to the onlookers. Few Senior Heroes openly hit their subordinates on camera hinting at their monarch-like behavior which is again, intertwined with patriarchy.

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The most recent example would be a director complaining funnily on stage that the heroine wasn’t offering hugs to him. One could not stop wondering why women( or their families) are not encouraged to get into the film industry ultimately leading to Patriarchy. After all, maybe the industry should learn a thing or two from what Radhika Apte complained about.

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