Culture Industry as a Mode of domination – A need for change

By: Soonya

I wrote a piece on MissionTelangana some time ago how cultural products and the culture industry are utilized by Seemandhra Colonialists to dominate the thinking of Telangana people.

It became fashionable for any film produced in the merged state of Andhra Pradesh to show the local people and their language and customs in poor light – often to raise some cheap laughs.

If the Telangana accent and language was not a tool to ridicule, Telangana people, especially Hyderabadi Telangana people or Hyderabadis are shown as goons, violent and antisocial.

Now that the dream of millions of T people is real, it is time to change the past baggage of the so-called Telugu film industry.

I earlier wrote in detail the evolution of the Telugu film industry with roots in the Green Revolution benefits in coastal Andhra. The roots have given it a despicable feudal character and finally evolved into a caste-based oligopoly – 3-4 families control almost all key parts of the industry.

Film financing, exhibition production and casting – all are under the control of these 3 families.

One new family who found space by the hard work and talent of Chinnajeevi showed some potential for change. Sadly it was not to be. The new family leveraged the sympathy for one community from their region, quickly used it to establish their own roots and also found political space for themselves. And they even built marital ties into Telangana, especially the powerful Reddy community. The readers are well aware of the rest.

This new family instead of creating space for talented people which they lamented till they got rich and famous has co-opted itself with the establishment.

There is talk as to how ruthless this family is. Sometimes their ruthlessness has even surpassed the other dominant community’s according to various reports.

One budding actor’s life was made miserable by this new family almost leading him to commit suicide.

Does the leopard change its spots? Does the Hyena, which acquired leopard’s spots, behave differently? Now this new family has a mind of Hyena and the spots of a leopard!

There is enough reason to believe that the dominance of these 4 families must be broken in Telangana for the following reasons:

1. It is feudal and casteist.
2. It is anti-women.
3. It is oligopolic – in a modern democracy restrictive and monopolistic trade practices are frowned upon and we do have a Competition Commission in India today which ought to look into it.
4. The culture industry from Andhra is crass, anti women, anti lower-castes, back-ward looking, anti-progress and reinforces oppressive stereo-types of various castes and regions and dialects.
5. Is only driven by commerce alone but no art.
6. The fact that thousands films are made in Telugu, hardly any one of their products can ever stand against some of the best even from smaller states like Kerala.
7. Has not even produced an Adoor Gopalakrishnan, a Benegal in its decades of existence.

These apart, there are an ever-present dangers with this industry dominated by two Andhra castes ruling the roost in Telangana.

Let me give one latest story of how an upcoming artiste’s future from Telangana is put in jeopardy deliberately by this ruling clique.

An Andhra producer who wanted to cash in on the craze for an extremely popular TV artiste offered to debut the artiste in his film. This artiste incidentally hails from Karimnagar and got his fame by his hard work and innate talent.

The film was started last year in June and was to be released in December last. Finally the producer announced that he would launch it around February this year during the Valentine week. The producer postponed the dates without letting the artiste know, to the embarrassment of the artiste who went on to TV shows sharing the launch dates.

After repeated postponements the producer decides to launch the film on 17 May 2014, a day after the historic elections in AP and India.

The producer hardly spends any money on publicity, almost killing the film. And he doesn’t get good theatres for the show, and till the last minute does not even release the film in Telangana. Only after the artiste’s efforts with one spine-less Telangana producer who otherwise is an apologist for the Andhra hegemonists, manages to get some theatres in Karimnagar (for once showing loyalty to Telangana). And the Andhra producer obviously, and deliberately does not send the copies of the film.

Despite all the deliberate and diabolical attempts to kill the film, the film shows some promise, as word of mouth seems to have built audiences for the film.

In an unexplained act, the producer pulls the film away from the theatres in 3 days.

What do you think of this story? Would a producer who wants to make money commit such suicidal acts inimical to his own interests?

The twist in the tale is that producer seems to have been ‘bought’ by the new powerful family in this feudal industry because – their second son’s film was launched around the same time!

This is what you see even after Telangana happened! Does the leopard change its spots? Does the hyena change its behavior?

The moot question is should Telangana suffer this rubbishy and crass industry still? Should Telangana suffer the dominance of the two-caste, 4 family-driven industry?

Should we suffer to see talentless, average looking scions from these two communities thrust into our face? One of them is so arrogant that he even doesn’t flinch from misusing his father’s official gunmen and beats up some young software kids on the road in road rage!

Should Telangana youth be swayed by the swashbuckling self-styled bogus Che-masquerador and their family’s dominance over Telangana people?

Is there not enough talent in Telangana? One just has to listen to the hundreds of wonderful songs with such great beats and such great poetry to understand that Telangana is far richer than these jokers in culture and depth of talent.

So what should be done?

Here are a few suggestions to begin with.

1. Telangana government must create a fund of 500 crores to promote films by Telangana people and on Telangana.
2. The Telangana government must break the monopoly of these 4 families controlling all aspects of film production.
3. The T government must complain to the Competition Commission of India and ensure that the exhibition halls are de-centralized from the control of these 4 families and one newspaper baron.
4. New comers, new films from Telangana must be given exhibition rights from all premier exhibition halls.
5. Must negotiate with the Andhra Pradesh CM that Telangana films must be exhibited if they want Andhra films exhibited here in the so-called Nizaam area.
6. Must ban Telugu TV entertainment channels from importing Hindi-serials and dubbing them into Telugu, which denies many opportunities to local people
And as consumers there is a responsibility on us too. Like Gandhiji gave a call to boycott British produced goods, we must stop watching the rubbishy, trashy stuff produced by this two-caste dominated Andhra film industry.

Especially those films of the gent who swaggered all around Telangana with the Saffron and Yellow party must be boycotted, if we have any self-respect.

The core of Telangana movement has been on the pillars of self-respect, self-determination and self-rule.

If we do not destroy these dangerous idea factories, their cultural icons, their language, will inundate us with their dumb consanguineous relationships dominated stories.

The struggle for attaining true freedom from internal-colonialists is not yet over, but just has begun.

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