Branding Culture: A Study of Telugu Film Industry

Branding Culture: A Study of Telugu Film Industry

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7116-2.ch046
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Telugu film industry, known as Tollywood is gaining popularity in the domain of regional film industry in India. Over the years, the industry through its actors, remaking and dubbing to various languages films; a tendency of culture and brand has emerged. Sometimes celebrated artists brand the films and vice versa. Brand endorsements and in film advertisements have become the order of the day. The current chapter attempts to explore Telugu cinema as culture and brand by analyzing the cases of the films like Pokiri, Magadheera, Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. In addition, the study tries to understand the timeline of Telugu cinema, keeping the culture and branding in mind.
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India is known for its culture. The Indian cultural history is more than 4,500 years old (Kuiper, 2010). Huge cultural diversities exist in terms of religious affiliations to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Jainism (Heehs, 2002). Film has emerged as an important component in India’s cultural progressions over a century, with noted French filmmaker Claire Denis rightly stating that India has a strong culture for cinema (‘India has a strong culture for cinema’, 2013).

Hindi cinema industry, known as Bollywood, is one of the largest film producers in India. Being a larger part of the Indian film industry, Bollywood represents 43% of the net box office revenue. The industry has to its credit the huge number of film productions in the world (Pippa, Niloufer, Keith, 2006; Wasko, 2003; Jha, 2005 & Matusitz, Payano, 2012). Many claim that the six major factors - ancient Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana; the impact of ancient Sanskrit drama; the traditional and folk theatre; Parsi theatre; Hollywood; and Western musical television - have shaped the convention of Indian cinema industry (Jones, 2010; Gokulsing, Gokulsing & Dissanayake, 2004).

Apart from Bollywood, films are made in various Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Assamese, Rajasthani, Haryanvi, Sindhi and Konkani. The regional film industries are coming into fore with increasing focus for reasons, which could be many. Several regional films have created waves in the Indian film industry, packed with rich content and fulfilling the audience’s cultural appetite. Mostly, regional films are less budget-driven. They are based on the filmmakers’ explorative ideas like the Marathi film, Sairat (2016), Fandry (2013) and Dombivli Fast (2005). Moreover, the films are focused in terms of regional languages, cultures and local issues (Mehrotra, 2016). The association of heavyweights from Bollywood and popular studies from abroad has further strengthened the industry. The Marathi film, Ventilator (2016) produced by Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures, was invited to the 55th New York Film Festival. Similarly, the Marathi film, Shwaas (2004), directed by Rajesh Mapuskar, bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film and was India’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the year 2004. The Tamil film, Visaranai (2015) was chosen to represent India for the Oscars. Two Marathi films - Harishchandrachi Factory (2009) and Court (2015), the Malayalam film, Adaminte Makan Abu (2011) and the Gujarati film, The Good Road (2013) had similar credentials in the history of regional cinema in India (Purandare, 2017). Going by these examples, it could be rightly stated that the regional cinema, in itself, has created a special space in the Indian film industry, becoming a brand in terms of contents based on language, culture and local issues.

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