April 6, 2013

Yet another Gult movie

What are you doing in the kitchen? Are you eating my roommate's Maggi again?
What else am I supposed to do? It’s been an hour and a half since I ate something. I even sneaked into your neighbor’s kitchen but I hate the cold, tasteless tetra pack milk you humans drink these days…
One of these days, one of my roommates is going to kick you out of the house. Don’t blame me if that happens
What’s with the grouchy mood?
I just came back from a Gult movie
How was it? Wait… Let me guess, it sucked and it was the worst three hours of your life.
Yes, the usual but this movie made me think. Why is it that Gult people HAVE to watch every movie that is cleared by the censor board without any bias, discretion or standards?
Are you talking about Telugu Cine fans?
Why single out the “fans”? Everyone is like that. Sometime in the last ten years, an entire generation of Telugu people has been convinced that every movie that hits the theaters ought to be watched in the theater. I don’t know how that happened but it did – Ritualistic movie going
It’s a part of your culture now
It is our culture. Thursday evenings: Eleven pradakshanams at Sai Baba temple. Friday evenings: New movie at Prasad’s multiplex – That’s the time table.

The thing that really baffles me is that people aren't tired of it. I mean it’s the same movie over and over again. Every hero in a mainstream production is essentially the same misogynistic, boorish, less talented knock off of yesteryear Chiranjeevi but with an unlimited SMS pack on his cellphone. He keeps fighting the same villain – a power hungry businessman-feudal lord with a daughter of marriageable age. The music is a pile of shit and the lyrics are the stink that emanate from it as it rots.

The romance is the same outdated, self-repeating, boring-as-a-block-of-wood Neanderthal mythology where the damsel in distress falls for the eve teasing asshole because he is probably a “nice guy” at heart.

People basically have been watching the same potboiler for the last 15 years. These are the same people who will shout if their mom cooks the same vegetable twice in a week!
Well, your people have always been a little fanatic about movies
Yes but it happens at a totally different scale now. It used to be that people went to the theater only if they were sure that it is worth three hours of their time and read some movie gossip once in a while from the Sitara magazine stocked in the barber’s shop but now it’s crazy.

Movies are the only thing on TV, on radio, on the internet, in the newspapers, on social media, at weddings, gatherings, schools, colleges, trains, buses, hospital waiting rooms…
Yes, that is really irritating
And people passionately follow everything too. They follow the movie right from its announcement, to the press release, the launch muhoortham, the first look, photo stills, audio preview, audio release function (live), controversies, gossip, platinum disk function, movie teaser, ‘official’ trailer, second trailer, item number, and after all this hype, the three hours of old shit on new toilet paper is met with obvious disappointment and then their fans go through the five stages of grief!

Wow, your generation spends ALL its free time, energy, resources, ability, thought and surplus on the Telugu Film Industry complex. That’s a little weird given how bad they are these days
Let’s not even talk about quality. We are living through the dark ages for Telugu movies as an art form – the range of themes, the writing, the acting, the music, the lyrics, the portrayal of women, the portrayal of men – all of them are on an all-time low
Except the profits!
That’s the tragedy…. bad movies go unpunished. In fact they do good business because we will watch anything
But hey, the comedy is still pretty good… most people at least claim that.
Yeah, you can say that but comedy has always been consistently amazing in Telugu culture. We are a people with a great sense of humor. So we’re not doing anything exceptional in the comedy department either. We’re just managing thanks to the amazing comedians and individuals like Brahmi, Kota, Tanikella Bharani, Ali, M.S Narayana, Dharmavarapu Subramanyam etc.
Yeah Brahmanandam’s 20 minute track pretty much decides whether a movie is a hit or a flop
What worries me is that we don’t have a next generation of funny people and Jandhyala’s generation is not getting any younger. The humor itself is moving towards a loud, loaded with on-your-face insults, innuendos, and slapstick moments compared to the subtle idiosyncrasies and clever wordplay
Yes, and Brahmi is getting beaten up way too often. Every bonehead hero with a 50 paisa face wants to trash him and put it on his resume. And that Ali fellow should stop wearing that female costume. Ugh!
He’s the only woman character that stands out if you notice. There are no women in our movies anymore, just cleavage and a navel with Sunitha’s voice. And she is there for the hero to cook for him, dance with him, stalked by him and finally saved by him.
How come Gult girls don’t complain?
They do sometimes. Those who feel strongly about such things have stopped watching Telugu movies altogether. Some have accepted that it is not going to change anytime soon, so they cringe and watch anyway. It helps that none of the heroines look Telugu. But those who grew up watching only these movies are totally desensitized. They even aspire to be cute, helpless and borderline retarded.
"Haha… Hasini" There’s this thing called a Bechdel test which is used to identify gender bias in fiction. Did you know about that?

To pass the test, a movie should satisfy three simple criteria. It should have (1) at least two women (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man
All those posh tests our gult movies wont pass babu. It is “out of syllabus”
Most of the Hollywood movies also fail that simple test. The movie industry is like that.
Don’t blame the Telugu Film Industry for any of this. The industry is doing very well for itself. It has bigger houses, better cars, and hotter chicks, plenty of money, media support, more political power, rave parties, and a generation of obedient fans willing to watch anything.

The industry is fine. The people are fucked.
Ouch!
Take any train/flight/bus from anywhere in the world to Andhra Pradesh, the most common sight is a Gulti sitting in the seat and looking into his laptop/smartphone/tablet screen.

We don’t know of any other hobbies. We have no personal interests. This is what we do with our free time. We plug in our ear phones, shut down our minds, and stare at a screen that is playing ‘Dookudu’ for the nineteenth time.
Without getting bored… that is the amazing part
I don’t know if sociologists are studying us, they totally should. It’s an amazing bubble we live in where young people’s identities are so closely tied to what kind of bad movies they prefer, which hero they worship. And everyone has to worship someone. They even have their own “isms”.
Like the unemployed members of the Morampudi Mega-Power Youth Association?
No, I am talking about the educated, brand conscious, cappuccino-sipping, Android-loving, dowry-demanding software engineers (and soon-to-be software engineers) with good educational background and on-site experience sitting in office and having passionate “our caste heroes are better your caste heroes” fights on the internet!
Haha… Yo hero so fat that his belt is the size of the Equator!
We even have strategies to sit through bad movies. When I say I didn’t like a particular movie people say, “No, you’re not watching it correctly” as if there is a right way to watch a movie and a wrong way
Don’t you know? To fully enjoy a movie, we have to turn off our common sense, intelligence, sensibilities, music sense, respect for women, teachers, law and order, society, the environment, and life on earth in general.
And people do it. They are happy to leave their brains outside the theater. Their commitment is amazing. We should release a postage stamp commemorative of the Gulti Movie-goer or something.
I am not very surprised by all this. It is all consistent with what is happening in the state
Yeah, we’re the first Post-reading Generation.

This is a generation that stopped reading. Not just “general” reading like literature, science, biographies, history etc. This is a generation that has never read its own school text books. We only have printed sheets of “important questions” with answers which are to be memorized and puked in the exam hall. That is how everyone earns their degrees!

So it is not surprising that we have this culture where millions of “educated” people in their 20s are proud to have not read a single book their whole lives; a culture that ridicules and alienates those who have; a culture where education is a transaction in which parents mortgage their ancestral property for an “MS from US”; a culture where success means immigrating into a mediocre job in a developed country; a culture that lacks self-respect and confidence in the face of globalization and consequently, a reactionary “we’re like that only” pride in our mediocrity.
Gultisthan Zindabad!
We don’t have to specially shut down our brains while watching movies. We have shut them down a long time back!
Co-authored by Flawsophy

46 comments:

  1. I suppose the hero of your comic strip just watched "Nayak"

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  2. Bhayya , nuvvu Trivikram ni marchipoyinattunnav. Neo Jandhyala :) . I donno if you even watch all the movies . You should watch some of the small budget films , that have fared well at box office. Recent on being 'Swamy ra ra'.I personally think EQ (Entertainment) is more important for a movie than IQ.

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  3. Trivikram is covered in "subtle idiosyncrasies and clever wordplay".... nenu Bangalore vacchaaka chaala thaggipoyindi Telugu cinemaalu choodadam.


    Of course entertainment is important... but as audience, we should also demand come quality kada?

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  4. Iranian movies are also awesome

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  5. Whenever I read your articles, I look for the 'Carlin-Quote'. You don't write articles without those, do you?

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  6. Wow. I strongly agree to everything in the post. As a kid i rarely (read as 3-4 per year) used watch movies. in the last one year, i have watched at least 45+ movies and less 7-8 movies in Telugu. most of the telugu movies don't make any sense.

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  7. 4 - 5 years back varaku top heroes cinemalu ayina kani konchem sensible ga undevi. ee madhya paristhithi mari darunanga tayarayindi. day by day quality peragalsindi poyi taggipothondi. 1 year motham kalipi max 2 movies, avi kuda small budget movies baguntunnay anthe.

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  8. screen playing dookudu for 19th time !! ROFL

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  9. Didn't quite like the condescending tone but for a post labeled under 'angry' I shouldn't be complaining I guess. I do agree with most of the flaws pointed out in our culture ( What's that you mention about a person who reads being alienated and ridiculed? That's something new I hear. Care to explain?) but I wish you had given more thought to causes rather than symptoms

    Regarding changes, I think something seriously needs to be done at the school level (especially the SSC ones) towards developing reading habits or other hobbies.

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  10. What's worse is the fact that everyone agrees with the post (saying to themselves: All of them are like this..., except me), including me. But what can we do?

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  11. Really a huge fan of your writing and blog. I am a fellow IITian and from Ramaiah too! Really love this particular article.

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  12. He is the voice of reason playing in my head. And he has covered pretty much every field. So it is hard to say something he hasn't said already :)

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  13. hehe... but that's okay. As long as they feel at little uncomfortable reading this, I consider my job done ;)

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  14. It is more of frustration than condescension. Just fed up with the "cinema gola"...


    Our general attitude towards books is very sad. I have met very few gults who read regularly anything outside movie reviews and a newspaper and most of them have this pride that their relationship with books has been bad since childhood. Anyone who reads books are automatically assumed to be boring and especially girls who read books have a hard time fitting into the culture (ayya baboi, thega sadivesthondi ee ammai... type dialogues all around).. I have heard a lot of rants on these lines, thought I should write it.


    Totally agree with the SSC culture. No education is better than an AP board SSC education. Parents themselves don't have a reading habit and don't even try to inculcate a reading habit in the kids.

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  15. loved it...cant agree more...i was once upon a time like this. One of my frns pointed out and slowly i started observing and realised. I dont have that habit anymore.

    You shud have elaborated on the fights also. For every flick of guitar string a person flies in air and hero doesnt get tired at all .

    Something about wannabe actors and directrs also u cud hav told. They watch the interviews of losers who made these films and get inspired to become one. I have some experience with them . They are even ready for few questions that they are going to tel in tv interviews in future.

    More importantly, wannabe actors are supposed learn acting but "heroes" in our telugu industry learn dances, fights etc.

    You can watch short films made by gults on utube.Pathetic !

    Fans of few heroes remember the release date of their hero's movie which is relased 7-8 yrs back as if it were repubic day or something.

    There are people who appreciate the movie considering the budget of the movie into picture. Thats balderdash ! Why shud we worry about the producer ?

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  16. Excellent points. Agree with most of your observations. Its like a 360 degree coverage of the movie-craziness of telugus.

    Jandhyala said in one of his interviews. మన తెలుగు వాళ్ళది చాలా విశాల హృదయం ఒక రెండు మూడు ఎకరాలు ఉంటుందేమో .. ఏ భాష సినిమా అయినా సరే ఎలా ఉన్నా సరే ఆదరించేస్తాం. We have a big-heart at least in this aspect.

    Reading habits in telugus got worse thanks to TV and movies but even in the past we a society were not good with reading anyway. To quote Gireesham (Kanyasulkam) - buying books is worse than selling girls ( "మైగాడ్ ! బయింగ్ బుక్స! పుస్తకాలు కొనడమా?? ధిక్ ధిక్! ఇటీజ్ వర్స్ దాన్ సెల్లింగ్ గరళ్స్-అనగా పిల్లనమ్ముకోడంకన్నా కనిష్టం"). This is back in early 1900s.

    Even now, selling 1 lakh copies of a telugu book is an achievement for a population of 10 crores and 70% literacy. No wonder many great telugu writers spent their lives in poverty.

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  17. To be honest, I have to add that in the recent past there are definitely some good telugu movies in genres unexplored till now. But they didn't do very well. So we are to be blamed. మరీ అంత బావుంటే మనకి నచ్చవు :)

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  18. loved the piece.
    Here's an expat version
    http://kottapali.blogspot.com/2012/07/blog-post.html

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  19. Could have written the same post in Telugu. But I am guessing the author also belongs to the post-reading-telugu books culture!

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  20. I write only in English in this blog because most of my readers are not Telugu. I also occasionally write in Telugu here http://flawsophy.tumblr.com/tagged/telugu


    I am planning to translate this post to Telugu.

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  21. When you watch a movie, you feel relaxed, right? Now when a person is relaxed, his mind is more receptive towards the input it gets. In other words, the input affects the mind more and stays there longer, changing the mind in some cases. Keeping this in mind, if we end up watching "bullshit" just for the sake of entertainment, can you guess what our minds will eventually become?
    You guessed it right... a cabinet of bullshit. :)

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  22. This post echoed my sentiments perfectly !! Couldn't have written it better I think. I am not a Telugu speaking person, nor do I watch many Telugu movies, some of them that I've watched have impressed me, like Bomarillu, Pokiri, Happy Days etc.
    However I agree that most of the movies are being made on similar templates with stereotype characters. Could it be that people are rather comfortable with this template and know what to expect so they enjoy this? Because movies made on a different template could be disappointing!
    I feel bollywood isn't doing very different either. Only a handful of movies worth watching every year, yet many of them do very well at the box office, which continues to baffle me. If we go by the 'demand and supply' fundamentals, it should mean that people themselves like this movies, which has very well been presented by this blogpost. :)

    Keep writing! :)

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  23. Yes, I know. Once you start to like him, you can't get him out of your head.

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  24. I remember saying to a group of people from andhra that the movie magadheera is ridiculuous esp. when the guy's hand touches the girl and there's a lightning/thunder, and I got the exact same reply that I didn't watch the movie in the correct way! :D

    And this coming from non-gulti person seemed to have agitated them even more.

    But now I have additional points to irritate them some more, thanks to this post :D

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  25. Yes, go back to them and irritate them please :)

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  26. Based on the timing of this post, I'm sure the author has been watching Badmaash, Dookudu, Mirchi etc etc all in one day. :D

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  27. Hey I really didnt want to enter this discusssion but here's some food-for-thought. Or rather, some alcohol-for-thought.
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/two-youths-blame-mahesh-babu-for-their-alcoholism/article4582015.ece

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  28. The bottom line is, why take chances? Why even go and watch bull**** things, that can only make us more bullshitty? Clean entertainment can be and MUST be enriching. Given the current state of affairs, on average, it is more productive to stare at a yellow wall for 3 hours, than to watch a gulti movie.
    Respect.

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  29. This may be the stuff for another article, but copying everything western also makes me sick. We do a poor job in copying everything, including accent, culture (ex: flashmobs), dress, music, movies (ex: I found that the movie "dookudu" copied its concept from a German movie "goodbye lenin"), etc.

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  30. I agree with most of the things mentioned in this article. I strongly feel this generation of telugu people are more cinema obsessed than our previous generations. Many of us are also like photocopies in that aspect. We dont mind watching 3 hour pig shit movie as long as Brahmi appears on the screen for 15 minutes and entertain us. And the pig headed hero in the movie gets all the credit that ideally the director and the comedians should get. The biggest reason why we embrace mediocrity in movies is because we take our so called heroes too seriously. The 'pati's, 'neni's,, 'naidu's etc. caste obsessed people have infested our telugu cinema so much that we cant trust most of the 'word of mouth reviews' anymore. And we are getting burned watching the movies by believing these dishonest reviews.

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  31. The name of the movie doesnt matter. All the shit is one and the same

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  32. What can we do? Stop watching dumb fuck movies just because brahmi/ali appears on the screen for a grand total of 15 minutes. I resisted my temptation of watching 'bad'shaah so far.. I've spent the 3hr valuable time watching some youtube videos on minutephysics... I recommend all telugu movie fans to watch at least one physics lecture daily, because our movies dont give a fuck to physics most of the time.

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  33. A random guy with a random thought.
    The problem is with our culture in general. We don't have self respect. (to some extent)
    And with the huge disposable incomes, and no intellect, the best form of entertainment for an average youth is movies. The problem is recurrent and not limited to Telugu movies itself. This is not a sustainable model and will perish soon.
    Still, good movies release in every language. You should have an eye for those.
    I feel ashamed when these so-called star directors give big interviews in newspapers.
    Cinema as an art form has long lost its importance. Trend will change soon and you can see glimpses of that.

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  34. I think they are blaming the act of issuing the statement that alcohol is not injurious to health. This sounds bad for he is a celebrity in 'real life'

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  35. true, with telugu movies you expect the same, like chinese movies synonymous with action sequences/kungfu..or korean movies with one central theme monologues(crime,passion, romance) or with hollywood movies, glorification of US military or with super heroes..there is a set pattern where people gets transformed into another world, leaving their problems aside..the objective of a average person watching any movie is to make him/her move into another world..where he would love to belong..unfortunately every common man in AP wants to be someone who is attributed to the super hero qualities..good son,good lover,good citizen, he wants to be everything, unfortunately he cant happen that in real life because of somany social taboos and he would love to see him through his fav. actor..and if the hero cant any of these or he fails or dies in the end, he considers himself defeated and will never watch that movie..

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  36. Instead of blaming commercialization of movies and expecting something else from free market, why not make cinema-making freelance enterprise again? Tollywood didn't happen with free-market, it started with investment by people like L.V.Prasad.

    Everybody who is tired of current movie standards can sacrifice couple of months of their movie-spending money. Pool that money to sponsor independent small movies -- may be techies here can set an online voting system to vote for good newbie-directors pitching their ideas to public (instead of money-investing producers).

    Public votes on what they want, they invest their pooled money to winning entry of short film or fund long version.

    Make such winning entry free for all (since production costs are already paid and artists remain artists instead of huge compensation of "star" power). So that next round, everybody else is interested in donating their "movie-going" fund to another good movie. Pay-it-forward type and increasing awareness of how "good" movies will look, and providing youtube version of "good" movie instead of 19 more times of Dookudu.

    Why not encourage independent film-makers by freeing them from marketing and instead promoting on their behalf in these social networks??

    If the investment-vs-film-making cost doesn't breaking even, then at least it proves that this "disapproval of current movies" is only talk and not the walk among enough people. Won't it be a good social experiment instead of "20 slaps = 1 like" sarcasm?

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  37. G2 - This is by far the most agreeable article you have written. These (literally) are my words, just that you wrote it! Bookmarking it!

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  38. Tollywood of today is not really free market. It is pretty much controlled by three or four "families" who own the production houses, have their own media establishments for promotion, own the distribution channels, the movie theaters and fund the fans association. There are numerous instances where good independent cinema has found it very hard to find theaters to screen (the latest example being Tanikella Bharani's 'Mithunam').

    Yes, we desperately need independent cinema and an environment that is conducive to artists. A crowd funded (or at least supported) independent cinema is the only way out of this mess.

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  39. Thank you. Actually there are a lot of people who are frustrated watching these run of the mill stuff,just that they don't complaint enough :)

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  40. Yes, there may be a definitive style for each movie industry but that doesn't mean ALL the movies should be the same. I don't think people don't have a problem with the format as such. It is about quality - the quality of the plot, the writing, the direction, the acting, the music etc. Do you think this is the best our culture can do?

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  41. I can't agree more with the whole blog. Gultisthan Zindabad indeed!

    I have an observation I'd like to share, when it comes to watching these movies, for some reason, I've watched more Gulti movies after I moved out of the country than while I was at home. I don't think I should read too much into that.

    I guess we all have our share of reasons to watch these movies,even though they aren't anywhere close to being 'original', 'intriguing' or 'absorbing'.

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  42. you are a genius! it is not just the telugu movies, hindi movies are equally worse - the worse the movie the higher the revenues they collect, only respite is the music in them is good and all we have in telugu movies is a stupid thaman scoring some random BS.

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  43. Hi G2! Thanks for this post. You are awesome! I've been going through a "depressing" phase because of the sad state of affairs in Andhra Pradesh, in every department. Be it Art, Literature, Morals and decrease of standards in general.
    Even though this post is about the Film Industry, as you rightly pointed the problem is much more. I have lots of anger and helplessness but I didn't know how to put in a meaningful way and this post is the best to represent my frustrations in every possible way. Be it Caste, Quality of Education, Misogyny, ("Cute"-athvam toh champese brainless Telugu heroine characters), Blind(and idiotic) fans, No respect to facts, Nauseating journalism in Telugu channels, Coward Reviewers (they cannot express their clear opionion because they fear fans would destroy them) (Contrast, how the Hindi and Tamil movie reviewers are. They would lambast if the movie is bad, irrespective of how "big" the hero is.))

    Since, many years I strongly believed that the society of Andhra Pradesh is "dead". People don't read. Even the books they read are about "Rasi phalalu", "Jatakalu", "Vastu shastralu", or "some X swami mahatyam". These are the Telugu books that are available in Telugu stands of major bookshops.

    Anyway, this post is great and I'll forward this to as many "unrealized" souls in my friendlist as possible.


    Also, did you notice the quality of Telgu Film industry decreased when the Telugu Film industry migrated from Chennai to Hyderabad in late 80's and 90's?
    Why do you think is this so? Is it because of lack of "culture" in Hyderabad? (I mean, eating shit loads of Biryani is not exactly a "culture"). In chennai, there are musical concerts, theatre, respect to art and all.

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don't be lazy