Arjun Reddy is a Landmark of Telugu Cinema, Regardless of Its Moral Incorrectness

Originally appeared in Baradwaj Rangan’s blog.

If you’re a non-Telugu-speaking movie-viewer who discovered Telugu cinema during the lockdown, relying on the multitude of OTT services, it is highly likely that your cinematic comprehension of Telugu cinema is confined to OTT hits, which mostly represent the tiny good side of the Telugu cinema. For instance, the majority of cinephiles from different parts of the country I interacted with have watched Agent Sai Sreenivas Athreya, Fida, Pellichoopulu, Jersey, and the elephant in the room, Arjun Reddy, in common. Now, leaving aside people who think Bahubali is a Tamil film and refer every South-Indian as Keralite, most of the cinephiles must be aware of the fact that Arjun Reddy is a Telugu film directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who also remade the film as Kabir Singh in Hindi. Kabir Singh, in addition to being one of the most successful films of 2019, also ignited a conversation about ‘toxic masculinity’, which was further fuelled by a very (in) famous interview the filmmaker gave post the release, as the audience continued to throng theatres and writers added pieces to the archival of toxic masculinity.

One thing which everyone, especially the native Telugu-audience during the release of Arjun Reddy in 2017, seemed to have taken no note of is that the post-viewing discussions transcended the usual

“cinematography is excellent”

“Music was awesome dude”

“hero entry next-level babai!”

Perhaps, we – the generation that grew feeding on mass masala Telugu entertainers – for the first time saw Telugu films coming close to what Martin Scorsese would elegantly define 2 years later as Cinema.

Continue reading in Baradwaj Rangan’s blog.

Further reading:

Martin Scorsese’s opinion piece in NYT

Interviews:

Dial M for films | The Narrative Spine | Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti

Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s infamous interview:

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