Formula is no Formula – Changing phase of Telugu cinema
With the success of Ghazi, the first submarine war film to be made in India, it is clear that Telugu cinema is reinventing itself, exploring new genre’s and story lines that have been shunned so far as they were thought to be not commercially viable. Some may think that the daring attempt of Ghazi may be a one off but if you look at the kind of films that have been extremely successful in the last 2 years or so, one would realize this is truly the beginning of Telugu cinema’s golden age in terms of path breaking content, audience who are willing to see different stories helmed by non-stars and new filmmakers with fresh ideas.
To understand as to how I reached to the conclusion I have described above let’s take a look at the kind of films that were successful in the last 2 years. Let’s look at the films released in 2016 first. In 2016 the number straight Telugu films that were released were approximately 108.
Out of these the total numbers films which were commercial hits were approximately 17.
So, the success ratio of Telugu films in 2016 is ~ 15 %. Out of these 17 hits, at least more than half of them are not regular formula films. A formula film is one which tries to stitch a story with all types of so called commercial elements such as comedy, action, hero entry, interval bang and 6 songs etc. So, for example film like Kshanam is not a formula film as it only sticks to its genre of suspense. This is a genre film. Whereas a film like Sarainodu is a formula film. In 2016 the films like Kshanam, Oopiri, Pelli chupulu etc have all been path breaking in terms of stories or storytelling and managed great box office collections.
In order to understand this further in terms of hard data, I have divided all the hit films of 2016 and 2015 into 3 categories: Path breaking films (very different films), Slightly different (subject matters were different but did not go all the way) and Routine commercial films.
If you look at the tables above, you can see that 7 out of the 17 hit films in 2016 and 9 out of the 15 hit films in 2015 have been path breaking and new style cinema. This success rate of different cinema is even higher in 2015, please look at the 2015 table.
This trend has strongly continued in 2017 with films like Ghazi, GPS and Shatamanam Bhavati declared huge success, it is clear that Telugu cinema has entered a new phase where it is dealing with films of diverse subject matters be it a Folklore Fantasy drama like Bahubali, historical period movie like Kanche or a philosophical Yevade Subramanyam. The writing on the wall for Telugu filmmakers is formula is no formula.