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History Of Birth And Growth Of Telugu Cinema (Part 3)
It was general opinion that Telugu film industry also began only in 1931 with the release of 'Bhakta Prahlada'. Some filmmakers began working on making of cinema four decades earlier. When you talk of film industry, it is not just production of a cinema. Distribution and exhibition are also a part of it. In the pre-talkie era Indians were more in exhibition business. In 1905, touring talkies circuits began. There was no film production. They imported films from France, USA and England and released them. In South India, the first touring talkies came into existence in 1914. Raghuapati Venkaiah took lead and constructed permanent talkies. It was named Gaiety Theatre. Because he did that in exhibition field he became grandfather of cinema. The construction of Gaiety was in 1914, we can say the film industry began functioning. For another three years the touring talkies culture continued to flourish. These were later converted into cinema halls. Jose Bioscope touring talkies made big business those days. There were also two more touring talkies. In 1917, PR Nataraj produced a silent film, 'Keechakavadha'. Then he made 'Draupadi Vastrapaharanam'. Raju Modaliar and Jeevaratnam were said to have acted in 'Keechakavadha'. Thus they can be bracketed as the first actor and actress of South Indian cinema.
|A scene from the film Bhakta Prahlada (1931).|
Telugu people began making silent movies from next year. Venkaiah established a film production company, named 'Star of the East' films. He also constructed a permanent studio. These were Telugu's first film company and first film studio - by Raghupati Venkaiah. His son RS Prakash made first silent film for Star of the East – 'Bhishma Pratigjna' (1922). This was the first film made by a Telugu man. Prakash himself played 'Bhishma'. A British girl De Castello played Ganga. As already mentioned earlier Chittajallu Pullaiah and YV Rao entered the field as director and assistant.
Yaragudipati Varada Rao (1903-1973) was born in Nellore into a prominent and wealthy Telugu Brahmin family. YV Rao was an actor too. Later he became director and directed silent films like Pandava Nirvana (1930), Pandava Agnathavaas (1930) and Hari Maya (1932). C Pullaiah was a technician and was an exhibitor too by the time the talkie era began. And then he took to directing too. Garrant films, National films, Associated films, Surya films were making silent movies. By 1929 some more were added to the list of silent film makers. Some others joined the acting line up.
Of the silent films made in South India most were mythological. There was a single social. Venkata Rao acted in it. The rest were stunt films. The moment it was found that silent films lost luster, the exhibitors brought famous dancers from Bombay and made them dance on the stage. Sometimes a commentator, sitting amidst audience used to comment on what was going on in that silent visual. With the emergence of talkie in 1931, everything changed magically and new era of filmmaking began.
To Be Continued...