February 04, 2011 Y. Sunita Chowdary
People will not watch Jai Bolo Telangana if it is just a historical depiction of the poor and the weak people in the Telangana region. So the director weaves a love story between a Telangana boy and an Andhra girl who act as a catalyst without which the film would have ended as a recap of a regular news reel we saw a couple of years back in December. Also if faces were ordinary, there would have been no takers for the film, so Jagapathi Babu, Smriti Irani and Nagineedu, AVS provide strong padding to the narration.
The story begins with a television reporter questioning the history and support of Jayamma (Smriti Irani) to the Telangana struggle and the director encapsulates the contribution and sacrifice of the family spanning three generations to the movement. The director includes the struggle against the despotic rule of the Razakars, and the armed campaign for the land to the tiller. He follows it up with the 1969 Agitation where it did not achieve the goal of a separate State but secured assurance of safeguards for the region all in a song featuring Jagapathi Babu.
The current story belonging to the fourth generation, of Jayamma's family picks up momentum reflecting the times and aspirations of the Telangana people and culminates into a struggle for political freedom wherein the students get involved; it is here the agitation at Osmania University, the role of print and electronic media, the immolation termed sacrifice of the Telangana student, the brutality and confinement of the students by the "Andhra" police citing law and order is screened obviously with sympathy tilting to the cause, the region and the people.
The film luckily doesn't appear like a documentary, the love story and every incident and an event has a Telangana angle attached to it. However the Telangana boy pining to marry an Andhra girl is just one angle, there is but one interesting plot of an investor played by AVS who forms the highlight of the film. He wants to invest 5,000 crore and develop a land belonging to a Trust and he is supported, his fears are allayed by a group of politicians who are from Seemandhra.
Every time AVS asks what were to happen if Telangana fructifies, a supporting cast pacifies him with examples and tells him that Telangana will never become a reality. The examples he gives are hilarious. Prithviraj and Nagineedu do a neat job again after Maryada Ramanna playing a politician from Vijaywada, pun intended who supports investments and development in Telangana.
The story shows Andhra people as traitors, stealing them of their land, jobs, being partial to their own people (Andhra) addressing them as "Manollu". As expected it has people goading each other, students telling each other that their lives will improve only if Telangana is achieved, they even blame poverty, the region's topography, women selling themselves, the water bodies being utilized by the rest of the State..on Andhras. Even a Tamil constable is shown as having sympathy for Telangana and the bottomline is that the future lies in achieving and formation of a separate State.
What's disturbing is disparaging remarks on the police, on those who are born, brought up in Telangana but support United Andhra. Inflammatory dialogues to a large extent have been censored but a little more care should have been taken to cut out obscene dialogues. They drive home a message that those who live in Telanagna and don't support are the real villains..chethulu kalipi moothulu naakuthunnaru.
A man asks AVS, "Do you know what is this, it is mirchi bajji?" The reply by AVS take it and keep it in a comfortable place. Finally, Prithviraj as a politician answers a demand for Telangana as, "Adhemaina autographaa adigina ventane iyyataniki, tareeka vuntadhi".
Shankar ends the story that a separate State will happen only when a bill is passed in the parliament as all the politicians have taken a U-turn. Smriti Irani parrots KCR's dialogue that despite breaking into separate states, their hearts will not split, it will beat for each other. In this film Telangana people are not backward, they speak good English. Smriti suddenly breaks into a compliment for her would be Andhra daughter-in-law, she says, "thousand beautiful flowers look like you. You are an angel."
Apart from the story, you have a half-hearted Telangana dialect, the tradition, customs like Bathukamma festival, the warmth of Telangana people who serve kodi pulusu to hungry visitors. KCR makes his debut only in a clipping, but his alter ego is Smriti Irani. Wonder why he had not immolated himself or why he broke his fast if he was so serious about Telangana, instead of exhorting and trying to use students as a tool to achieve Statehood.
Jagapathi Babu acts so well, as if his heart really beats for Telangana, and in the coming few months we will have many more stars sinking into the roles to show their love for Telangana or love for their art. Shankar has done a good job, whether people see his film or not he has made a perfect cocktail of news clippings and human drama, a volatile subject to spin a story for great deed..whipping up passions to rake in moolah.
Will Jai Bolo Telangana be as potent as the politicians and activists who want to the State to be divided? It depends on the crowd who go to see it. Bottomline is, Jai Bolo Telanagana is a good piece of art, an average cinema, it has violence not in the form of weapons but in the form of language, feelings and visuals that will disturb you. Songs are melodious, see the film for KCR's creativity in lyrics, Gaddar's love for himself on the big screen and the awesome title song that you'd love to hum home. Just appreciate the film as a piece of art!