For a long time only Hindi cinema was screened as Indian cinema and it was ‘very humiliating’ for him as a player in the Telugu film industry, renowned actor Chiranjeevi has said, while giving credits to filmmakers. movies such as Baahubali and RRR breaking down language barriers and making them proud.
The superstar’s moving speech, delivered at an event ahead of the release of his latest film Acharyacomes amid a pushback by South India against alleged attempts to impose Hindi as the national language.
In a video shared by Brut India, Mr. Chiranjeevi is heard recounting his trip to Delhi to receive a national award for Rudraveena (1988).
As the language debate continues, Telugu star Chiranjeevi has recalled the time South Indian cinema was sidelined at an awards ceremony… pic.twitter.com/sMALFJTldl
— Brut India (@BrutIndia) May 1, 2022
“In 1988, I made a film called Rudraveena with Naga Babu. It won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best National Integration Feature Film. We went to Delhi to receive the award,” he said in Telugu.
He added that the awards ceremony was in the evening and there was a tea party before that.
“We were having tea in the lobby. The walls around us were decorated with posters depicting the greatness of Indian cinema. There were some brief notes. There were pictures of Prithiviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand , Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra and so on. They showed their photos, they described them beautifully. They praised various directors and heroines.
“And we thought they would also talk about South Indian cinema in so much detail. But they just showed a still of MGR (MG Ramachandran) and Jayalalithaa dancing. They described it as South Indian cinema of India. And Prem Nazir, who has played a hero in a record number of films in the history of Indian cinema, they showed his picture and that was it,” Mr Chiranjeevi said, his eyes shining.
The actor then listed the big names in South Indian cinema who did not find any mention at all – Dr Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, NT Rama Rao, A Nageswara Rao and Sivaji Ganesan.
“They were demigods to us. And there were no pictures of them. For me, it was humiliating. I felt very sad. They only screened Hindi cinema as Indian cinema. And they rejected other industries like regional language cinema. They didn’t even bother to acknowledge his contribution,” he said.
Mr. Chiranjeevi added that films such as Bahahubali 1, Bahahubali 2 and RRR have been the pride of Telugu cinema.
SS Rajamouli, director of the films standing beside him, the renowned actor said, “After so many years, today I feel so proud, I can bump my chest. Our industry has proven that we are no longer a regional cinema. these barriers and become part of Indian cinema. Everyone is amazed at our success. We have overcome discrimination. Thanks to Baahubali, Baahubali 2 and RRR,” he said.
Mr Chiranjeevi’s emotional speech came days after a heated exchange between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Sudeep Sanjeev.
While Mr. Sudeep pointed out that Hindi is not our national language, Mr. Devgn questioned why films in South Indian languages were dubbed into Hindi.
The exchange sparked a debate on social media, which politicians also joined. Mr Devgn, according to a section of the Karnataka leadership, had “blabbered like a BJP spokesman”.
The throwback to Hindi is not limited to cinema, however. Last month, following Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech to propagate Hindi, several southern leaders warned that any attempt to impose Indian Hindi would backfire.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan and Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao were among the leaders who spoke out against Mr Shah’s remarks and stressed that unity in diversity is the strength of India.