Recently I have read somewhere that the movies of an era reflect the society of that era and one can carefully analyze movies of that era to understand the society that inspired the movies. But on that note, I do not want to talk about a serious topic like the political atmosphere and the movies that reflected it. Instead I will talk about a genre very specific to Telugu cinema, the genre of “Atha-Alludu”.
My timelines might be a bit off but if I can recollect right, Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu was the first blockbuster that glorified this genre. Each of the top 4 heroes of the generation have at least one blockbuster in that genre. Chiranjeevi had Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu, Balakrishna had Nari Nari Naduma Murari, Venkatesh had Bobbili Raja and Nagarjuna had Allari Alludu and Gharana Bullodu.
So it really makes sense for Naga Chaitanya to try this genre in form of Sailaja Reddy Alludu. Also Maruthi has a penchant to showcase the aspects of the movies his generation grew up watching. But going back to the point of society driving the genres of movies, it made me wonder what had given rise to this genre.
In synopsis of most of these movies, you are bound to find the phrase “Headstrong Woman” describing the character of “Atha”. I would like to call them “Strong Woman” instead. All these movies had a lady whose husband is kind of not fit to run a family or in other words imbecile and so the lady of the house stepped up and brought the family to a respected status in the society. A quick look at the history tells me that 1990s was the time of women entrepreneurs in India. Lot of reforms and initiatives pushed by governments and NGOs in that direction were catching up. Today’s catch phrase “Women Empowerment” had its roots in 1990s. And Telugu Cinema lapped up the concept right away.
One has to agree that such women were shown in bad angle in all these movies. Only consolation is that they transform as good beings in all these movies by the end. Unlike their male counter parts who played evil “Mama” in movies, “Atha” always turned good in the climax. Their motherly nature mixed with the fear of their daughter repeating their mistake of marrying an imbecile husband is my justification of why they are how they are. So when the son-in-law, the ultra-commercial do-gooder always-righteous street smart Telugu hero, proves his worth to her, she changes and accepts him.
The fact that we remember the “Atha” in these movies so fondly with no negativity attached also tells us something about how they were written. This genre is a clear reflection of how our writers were in touch with the society to get influenced or take inspiration from. Of course, “Eetharam Movies” takes the cake in that aspect for making some very hard-hitting movies based on the atrocities in the then society. That may be a topic for another article. For now, let us wait and see if “Sailaja Reddy Alludu” can repeat the same magic of this genre.
–Column by Rohit (Opinions expressed are his own)