Later Lifetime of Historic Figures in ‘Pan-Indian’ Telugu Movie


The sequence ‘The Many Worlds of the Deccan’ explores the cultural historical past and altering social interactions within the Deccan area. It challenges north-centred, monolithic methods of understanding India. The sequence is produced by The Window Collective, a bunch of students dedicated to constructing public dialogue on historical past, politics and tradition.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

In modern movie historical past of the Telugu individuals there may be an instance of at the very least one ultra-masculine supernatural celluloid determine who seems once in a while to ascertain regional order: Alluri Sitarama Raju.

The supply of this celluloid determine was a pacesetter often known as the Rampa Rebel of the tribals in opposition to the British in Madras Presidency districts in 1922. Alluri Sitarama Raju, a neighborhood Kshatriya youth of 20 and inclined in the direction of asceticism and cultivation of non secular targets, organized tribals to raid native British police stations in forest settlements. Though Alluri initially instilled worry amongst British officers with guerilla techniques, steadily the British managed to achieve an higher hand by transferring into military models and capturing and killing him and his allies in 1924.

This insurrection was solely one of many many tribal revolts led by Alluri. Whereas most tribal leaders are forgotten, Telugu movies have repeatedly reminded us of Alluri. Within the newest avatar, Alluri seems to be serving the decision of Hindutva. In April 2022, a district within the state of Andhra Pradesh was named after Alluri. Not too long ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 30-feet statue of Alluri put in by the Kshatriya Seva Samiti in West Godavari district on 6 July, as part of the BJP’s outreach to each tribals and the Raju neighborhood. .

The determine of Alluri Sitaramaraju has developed over the previous hundred years into its modern model – an intertwining of masculinity, caste, faith and language. within the 1974 movie Alluri Sitaram Raju, the title function was performed by Telugu star Krishna. The movie begins with a track, which depicts the Rampa tribal insurrection led by Alluri, the Rani of Jhansi, the Revolt of 1857 and the Jallianwala Bagh bloodbath of 1919. A easy nationalist narrative is constructed.

At this level, though we see the protagonist Krishna donning saffron within the movie as Alluri, these are with none clear Hindu declare. He could pray to Goddess Kali however the movie is obvious that the protagonist’s dedication is to insurgent in opposition to Hinduism. When a British officer orders troopers to shoot him, Hindu troopers see a Hindu god in it, Christian troopers see Jesus in it and Muslim troopers see the Quran, they usually all refuse to shoot. Finally he was shot by a British officer.

Krishna Alluri as Sitaram Raju within the 1974 movie.

This illustration of Alluri as a ‘Telugu’ hero got here within the context of a number of socio-political modifications within the Telugu area usually and within the movie trade specifically. From the Forties onwards, writers and intellectuals similar to Kodavati Kutumbrao started to talk about ‘innateness’ and the illustration of originality or ‘Teluguness’ on display. Because the linguistic id motion was gaining power, Telugu cinema needed to be distinguished from different South Indian cinemas by this teluguism. The positioning of Telugupan was envisioned to be a coastal Andhra village with paddy fields and girls in conventional costume. Right here Telugu meant the illustration of the peasant capital of the Kamma castes on the display. The 1974 Alluri Sitarama Raju movie got here after the primary motion for a separate Telangana in 1969. This demand for a separate state known as for a rejuvenation of the Telugu id. This reference is mirrored within the movie and we see that Alluri Sitarama Raju is introduced as a ‘Telugu’ hero. The lead track on Alluri within the 1974 movie, ‘Telugu Veera Levara’ was written by Sri Sri, a member of the Revolutionary Writers’ Affiliation.

Telugu Veera Lavar
Diksha turned ocean
Desh Mata Swachha Kori
Thirugubatu incision

(Jagruti O Telugu Hero
resolve and transfer on
for the liberty of the motherland
Insurgent)

Funded by Kamma capitalist Krishna, the movie made a direct hyperlink between Telugu id and nationwide id. The insurrection in opposition to the British was a ‘Telugu’ contribution to the nation.

One other illustration of Alluri seems within the movie ‘Punyabhoomi Nadesam’ starring NT Rama Rao. Main Chandrakanto, a 1993 movie. The track comes as an interlude when a military chief is instructing patriotism to his grandchildren. On this track Alluri is positioned amongst different martyrs of the nation like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The movie is solely primarily based on the thought of ​​sons sacrificing for Mom India and tells the story of an Military Main and his social contribution.

On this track we get to see a communal reinterpretation of historical past. For instance, on this movie, launched after Babri Bharat, Shivaji is introduced as combating in opposition to communal forces (calling them communal forces, the movie refers to Muslims) who violate Indian girls. Was being Right here we see a placeholder for the sacrificial nationwide hero and the enemy of the constructed nation; All of the tales had been from completely different historic occasions, the contexts had been instructed by these templates. Elevating Vande Mataram slogans within the Alluri phase of the track, 100 weapons are being fired directly to kill him from the sky.

This track displays the politics of NT Rama Rao in some ways. In his political profession, the movie got here between his two phrases as Chief Minister (in workplace: 1983–84; 1984–89; 1994–95). NTR’s Telugu id was related to an ascetic Hindu id. He added saffron to his election marketing campaign and appealed to Hindu sensibilities, regardless that he was exterior the BJP. NTR . strengthened the Hindu-Telugu id

He gained the election and have become chief minister by projecting the individuality of Telugu delight as an electoral platform, suggesting that Telugu delight was being subjugated by the nationwide. In an try to ascertain a Telugu id and pantheon for Hyderabad, the statue of Alluri Sitarama Raju was put in on the tank dam by NTR together with others like Gurjada Apparao, Suravaram Pratapareddy, Ballari Raghava, Makdoom Mohiuddin and so forth.

Ram Charan as Muscular Alluri carrying Janeu in RRR.

Within the third and newest iteration, Sitaram Raju seems alongside Komaram Bheem, now a tribal insurgent from Telangana, within the ‘Pan Indian’ 2022 movie. RRR, The identify of a police officer working for the British within the movie is Alluri Sitaram Raju. Though the movie would not actually symbolize the historic determine, it constantly alludes to him. The track ‘Ramam Raghavam’ centered on the Alluri motif is an attention-grabbing amalgamation of Sanskrit-sounding phrases set in opposition to the guitar and drums. Extra importantly, the track options the protagonist in addition to a complete choir wearing saffron-coloured garments.

On this movie, the determine of Alluri, performed by the protagonist Ram Charan, is constantly contrasted with the determine of Komaram Bheem, performed by Jr. NT Rama Rao. The connection drawn by comradeship between Raju of coastal Andhra and Gonds of northern Telangana is outstanding because it comes lower than a decade after the 2 states separated. Much like Alluri, the determine of Komaram Bheema additionally has modern significance within the fashionable Telangana imagery. Bhima has been revived through the Telangana battle and the necessity to retrieve forgotten native historical past. A district in Telangana was named after Komaram Bheem in 2016.

Our newest incarnation of Alluri is a chiseled, muscular determine, just like the muscular Hanuman that’s now omnipresent. Not like the 1974 movie, the 2022 movie prominently represents the sacred thread (Janeu), depicting the higher caste standing of Alluri Sitarama Raju. If there was any doubt concerning the affiliation of this new hero, it has been cleared up within the YouTube feedback part for the track. Many commentaries make reference to ‘Sanatan Dharma’, which regularly ends with ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Proud to be a Hindu, Proud to be an Indian’. Right here, Alluri Sitarama Raju will get acquainted with the mythological determine of Rama. This mythology of historic figures is just like the Amar Chitra Katha comics which reinforce the ideas of Hindu nationalism.

Singing crew within the track ‘Ramam Raghavam’ from RRR.

The important thing level to think about right here is that each Alluri because the consultant of Andhra Pradesh and Komaram Bheem of Telangana are inextricably linked with the rise of world Hindutva. It’s a Hindutva that imagines the Hindu male as a fierce superhero whose masculinity is on fixed show. The higher caste, super-human, male protagonist is widespread in most Telugu movies, as seen in movies like Samarasimha Reddy, Indra and so forth. These movies are dubbed into Hindi and distributed extensively by Hindi movie channels and will be thought of as precedents for a ‘pan-Indian’ Telugu movie. He has created a style for Telugu movies within the North Indian markets.

In a ‘Pan-Indian’ Telugu movie, this Telugu hero template is introduced as a variant – mythological Hindu male, a tribal determine or a mafia chief, to make sense to a ‘pan-Indian’ viewers. British villains turn into a extra narrative ploy to create ‘nationwide’ attraction. This, in fact, utterly bypasses the historic undeniable fact that the expertise of British colonialism was not uniform throughout the subcontinent. This exemplary mannequin has been tried in Hindi films like Shamshera, Brahmastra and so forth. One other ‘Pan Indian’ Telugu movie ‘Ligar’ makes a direct reference to Prime Minister Modi utilizing the phrase ‘chai wala’, indicating its direct affiliation.

From 1974 to 2022, we see a shift within the illustration of the historic determine of Alluri in the direction of a mythological determine just like Rama, who’s situated in mythological geographies, traditionally and even fictionally. . The historical past of ‘Pan-Indian’ Telugu movie goes from the intertwining of Telugu-Hindu identities to the total incorporation of Telugu into Hindu and mythological.

Whereas the opposite essay on this sequence ‘The Many Worlds of the Deccan’ has proven us how the varied practices are marked within the Deccan, it’s also necessary to doc the political initiatives – on this case the favored movie – that emphasize homogeneity, nationwide, Hindu and linguistic id. This essay reveals {that a} majority Telugu id is giving option to Hindu id in movies through the interval ranging from the Nineteen Fifties.

C. Yamini Krishna works on movie historical past, city historical past and Deccan historical past. He’s a part of the window group. She at present teaches at Flame College.



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