Trivikram Srinivas, Neil Armstrong and the Telugu heroine

Well, it’s that time of the year in the Telugu Film Industry when it’s a festival for movie lovers. And this year is no different. This Sankranti season there are four releases – Rajinikanth’s Darbar, Mahesh Babu’s Sarileru Neekevvaru(SLN), Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikunthapuramlo(AVPL) and Kalyan Ram's Entha Manchivaduvura(EMV). I’ve seen the trailers and they all seem tailor made to satisfy the larger than life personas of the stars in question. Nothing out of the box as such.

However, the one that impressed me the most was the AVPL trailer. AVPL seems like regular Trivikram fare – a run of the mill middle class hero, focus on familial bonds and relationships, and of course, the sharp and witty writing that Trivikram has come to be the forerunner of. And it was one such whistle worthy dialogue that made me happy while watching the trailer.

Trivikram Srinivas

Allu Arjun says this dialogue that goes something like this:

Dennaina puttinche shakti iddari ke undi Sir. Okkati, ee nela ki, marokkati (turning to Pooja Hegde), vallaki. Valla tho godavalenti Sir? Surrender aipovali, anthe.

It translates to, “The power and ability to create rests with only two entities, the land and the woman. Why pick a fight with them? Just surrender to them.(For it to register properly, I would suggest watching the AVPL trailer.)

Now, I’m no feminist as such (Heck, I don’t even know what it means actually) but this dialogue made me smile a lot. This was because even though I love Trivikram's movies, one problem I’ve had with them is the role of the heroine. Madhu in Julayi, Sameera in S/o Satyamurthy, Subba Lakshmi in Khaleja, Sasi & Pramila in Attarintiki Daredi and Sukumari & Suryakantham in Agnyathavaasi were mere eye candy whose only job was to moon over the hero. From a point of driving the plot forward, they didn’t matter much. A notable exception was Anasuya in A Aa. Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava (ASVR) had the heroine's name in the title, but that was pretty much it. However, in Trivikram’s defence, the other women in the film had strong roles.

Now, you could counter saying that this is the case in most of the other movies also, why single out Trivikram’s movies for criticism? Well, remember that quote from Spiderman?

“With great power comes great responsibility”

That is the case here. Trivikram, and the film fraternity in general, are in a position where they can bring about change in the way woman are portrayed by the kind of cinema they make. SS Rajamouli did it with Baahubali, Sekhar Kammula did it with Fidaa and Shiva Nirvana did it with Ninnu Kori and Majili. And now it is Trivikram’s turn. He is widely respected in the film circles and if he does something people will take notice. Now imagine the effect this will have on the men who love Trivikram’s movies. They will begin to look at women with more respect, all thanks to their Guruji.

By writing out well etched roles for their leading ladies, filmdom will be doing a great service to the cause of ladies in general. I sincerely feel that cinema is a great platform to drive home the point that women are, for all matters, if not more than, at least equal to men. Forget an empowerment POV, even from an economic POV it makes sense to have well written roles for our leading ladies.

The current situation for women is far from ideal, but if having solid roles for women in films will help increase the respect , I’m all for it. A single dialogue is a really vague precursor of what is going to happen in the movie, but it is a step in the right direction. Playing around with Neil Armstrong's words, “That's a small step for woman, but a giant leap for womankind." All said and done I’m eagerly waiting for AVPL to hit the screens. For, like all Trivikram's movies, it will surely give some food for thought.

P.S. I would love it if the heroine gets a special song extolling her, like Deva Devam in Attarintiki Daredi, Swagatam Krishna in Agnyathavaasi and now Ala Vaikunthapuramlo in AVPL. That would be the confirmation that there is no looking back for heroines in Telugu cinema.

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