Telugu filmmakers chime in on Ajay Devgn and Kiccha Sudeep’s Hindi as national language debate: ‘Respect for languages ​​should be mutual’

Ajay Devgn’s tweet to Kiccha Sudeep on the Hindi language invited quite a few reactions from the Indian film fraternity. Devgn had reacted to Sudeep’s comment at an event about Hindi not being the national language of India. The Runway 34 tweeted, “My brother, if according to you Hindi is not our national language then why do you release your movies in your mother tongue by dubbing them in Hindi? Hindi was, is and always will be our mother tongue and national language. Jan Gan Man.” Sudeep got into a war of words with Devgn regarding the same leading to a North-South debate.

We talked to a few Telugu filmmakers for their take on the ongoing debate.

Art is universal: Rahul Ravindran

Commenting about the Twitter tussle between Kiccha Sudeep and Ajay Devgn, actor-filmmaker Rahul Ravindran opined that art is universal. He said, “It was a conversation between two people, which I haven’t read. So, I am not sure exactly what happened there. I shouldn’t comment on it. However, they seem to have sorted it out very respectfully between themselves. That aside, art is universal. Once you like something, what language, which country, which state, and what content, nothing matters. All that matters is that you like that content. That’s the beauty of art and audiences.”

“A few months back, a show called Squid Game was released, and nobody cared it was a Korean show. Everybody loved it, and the whole world watched it. That’s how it continues to be. Previously, there was no system in place where we were taking our films to the audience all over the country. Luckily, with SS Rajamouli sir’s pioneering efforts, today, there is that system and structure in place. I hope all states continue to take their films to all the languages. And, if a film is good, the audience will continue to shower love and acceptance,” Ravindran added.

Expressing his views about the notion of Hindi cinema as Indian cinema, he said, “As an Indian, I get an opportunity to correct the global perception about Indian cinema. There are beautiful films that come from Hindi and other (Indian) languages. I am sure there are enough people who continue to go out and correct it. If I remember right, AR Rahman, in a couple of his interviews and on international platforms, always made it a point to say that he is from the south Indian film industry. More and more opportunities will come, and we will be able to correct it. Baahubali 2 was such a huge success in the US. It wasn’t only Indian people but also American people watching Baahubali. So, slowly they are getting exposed to Telugu cinema. It will automatically happen, and I don’t think it is something we need to worry too much about. It’s a sweet thing that North, East and West Indians have given love and acceptance without looking at it as a dubbed movie. Tomorrow, similarly, we should give love and acceptance to Hindi films or films from other Indian languages. That’s a beautiful state. I don’t think it should become a competition (among movies). We all are one country, and every cinema deserves the appreciation and love of the entire country.”

Respect for languages ​​should be mutual: Prashanth Varma

Prashanth Varma, who is busy shooting his pan-India project Hanu-Man: The Origin, said, “Psychologically, there has always been a bias against South India. There has always been a notion of considering the Hindi film industry as a bigger industry than the other south Indian film industries. It is because of a high number of the Hindi speaking population and Hindi filmmaking with big budgets. But today, the scenario has changed, and south Indian movies like KGF 2 are garnering astonishing collections at the ticket windows even more than Hindi films.”

He also opened that the respect between different film industries should be mutual. He said, “From a cinema point of view, today every film is equally big. Love for language and the film business are two different things. Filmmakers from different languages ​​have been trying to conquer or make a mark in different market regions by dubbing their films. So, the respect for the languages ​​should be mutual, and when you continue that respect, the business also prospers.”

Movies should mirror social issues: Venu Udugula

Venu Udugula, the director of Virataparvam, said considering Hindi cinema as Indian cinema is cultural dominance. He said, “A cultural dominance is going on. In general, which culture is shown predominantly in mainstream cinema, that will be a considered a country’s culture. So, when a foreign person watches a Hindi film, he/she thinks of it as a film of India rather than looking at it as a movie from India.”

“For instance, the wedding culture in Hindi films and ours (in South) are different. The food culture shown in Hindi films has no connection with our native food. Hindi culture getting represented as Indian culture is a sad thing. It is nothing but north India’s cultural dominance. India is a country with different cultures and regions. India is a diverse country. So, when our films start representing different lifestyles and traditions, then only we can see the diversity in our films. Then only Indian cinema remains a cinema industry with a difference and receives accolades in international movie arenas,” he added.

To overcome the language barriers of cinema, Venu Udugula suggests that movies should mirror social issues. He said, “A cinema should represent and project the social issues that include poverty, caste and class differences, victimisation of women, etc. Only then we can see the true diversity in our cinema. No filmmaker is looking at the true lives of our (Indian) society.”

He also opened that there have been some biased notes about south India. But he affirmed that we should not judge all as the same since some people with progressive thoughts are doing their best to erase the differences.

Nobody is less to anybody: Tammareddy Bharadwaj

Filmmaker Tammareddy Bharadwaja also suggests that people should look at movies as just movies to make Indian cinema a progressive industry. He said, “We should look at cinema as just a cinema without any language differences. Most importantly, we should not apply the regional tag or the language tag to the records created by movies at the box office. Likewise, we should also not insult a language or culture based on the success of the movies. Nobody is less to anybody.”

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