The movie ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ is directed by N Shankar and features actors like Jagapathi Babu and Smriti Irani. It is now being screened across various theaters in Telangana and is becoming a roaring success. Borrowing Dileep’s comments: 'Telangana is going through a cultural renaissance. It has produced hundreds of songs and hundreds of books already. Now, it can proudly boast a movie as well'.
Indeed, Telangana is going through a cultural renaissance. It is reasserting itself after nearly 50 years of suppression, having been shown to be inferior, as a culture worthy of being discarded. All attempts to erase this culture now stand futile. The lesson is clear, you cannot erase someone’s identity and culture for so long; it comes back with a vengeance. The assertiveness comes out in many forms, in speeches, in body language of Telangana people, in songs, in defiance, and in every aspect of Telangana people’s lives. They even dream of creating their own state.
Nowadays, young boys and girls proudly speak Telangana without an iota of shame or embarrassment, something that was not so easy for my generation or my father’s generation. I see some school-going students speak Telangana as if it’s the coolest language on the planet. And when they speak in ‘coarse’ Telangana to tell a story or a joke, the audience would applaud them and ask them to repeat. They are instant heroes of the group. These days Telangana is the ‘hep’ language, it is cool; it is in fashion. Today, Telangana is chic.
A Radio Jockey called Pratika in Hyderabad takes this coolness to a different level when she speaks Hyderabadi, a mixture of Telangana, Urdu, and English, with utmost ease and naturalness, abandoning the pretense that haunted the people of this region for so many years. While listening to her on the radio, I could easily believe that it was one of my nieces speaking freely at home. After hearing her on the radio, the artificial Telugu which I hear on the news and TV channels now appears more artificial than before. We are emerging onto the scene to assert ourselves and there’s no turning back.
The ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ is not your conventional movie, and if you try to measure it through parameters of a regular movie, you will be disappointed. Technically it does not qualify even as a good movie. Many actors did not act well (many of them are real life Telangana activists and leaders). Romance is artificial. Screenplay is poor. Few messages are repeated making it laborious for any non-Telangana person.
So, what is so great about this movie? Why did I make it a point to see it in Sudarshan Theater on RTC crossroads in Hyderabad though I was not keeping good health? At the end of the movie, Why was I completely in rapture? Why did I enjoy this movie thoroughly that I felt I could watch it many more times?
Well. The answer is simple. ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ is just not a movie, it is a great cultural experience. It is about witnessing a revolution in making. It is about being a part of cultural renaissance. Not a culture that I read about in a book, but that something I am a part of. It is about my identity. It makes every Telangana person proud of what he or she is.
You have to understand that it is a low budget movie and it faced so many obstacles from those who wanted to make sure the endeavor fails. The fact that it made it to the screen is in itself an achievement. It echoes the spirit of current generation of Telanganas who refuse to bow down to the oppressive forces anymore. It is not about how well they speak or write. The fact that they are seen as equal, put under the same spotlight, is good enough for now.
The movie deals with contemporary Telangana agitations and events with a romantic story of a Telangana guy and an Andhra girl in the foreground. The plot is simple. The father dies fighting for Telangana. The son doesn’t want to get into any type of agitation. However, he goes through a series of experiences, witnesses the injustices done to Telanganas, and he rises up in rebellion. The movie depicts the events of the last one year, Chidambaram’s statements, KCR’s fast, and so on.
For a change the protagonist, Jagapathi Babu, an Andhra actor, attempts to speak Telangana. The villagers did a much better job in speaking Telangana without having to make an attempt. It is so nice to see Telangana culture being depicted on the screen for a change. The humor is not subtle. It directly attacks its detractors, but still you cannot help but laugh. The message to Seemandhras is simple: Lets part as regions, but stay together as people. The message to Telangana people is simple too: Fight, fight like there’s no tomorrow because your future depends on it.
I would have liked to see some changes in the movie. A student who commits suicide is shown burning. And repeated allusions are made to suicides. They could have been avoided. Also, I wish the director had highlighted other (more important) injustices to Telangana than just jobs for the youth, like water.
Otherwise, the director can be given credit for capturing the mood of Telangana agitation very well, weaving the contemporary events into the fold, while highlighting certain cultural aspects of Telangana. The best part of the movie are its songs. The songs transport you into a different realm. They make your heart beat faster. They bring the rebel in you. They make you get up and fight for yourself and for your people. The title song ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ is an inspiring song, not for just Telanganas, but anyone out there, like one of those Lagaan songs. KCR himself has written ‘Garadi Chestundru’. It is very well pictured, with humor, and it is a great composition. And the best part of the cultural experience comes with Gaddar’s song ‘Podustunna Poddumeeda’. Gaddar, who has inspired a revolution in this region, now sings a tune for Telangana in this movie, and that’s when the entire audience gets up from their seats and break into a dance. The celebration is now in full flow with many young and old jumping and singing. After that you can consider yourself a part of this revolution. [You can listen to the songs here: Jai Bolo Telangana, Podustunna Poddumeeda, Garadi Chestundru]
Last year, I met an old friend from Telangana after nearly a decade. He is now a director in Telugu movie industry. He speaks a different Telugu, not the one we spoke when we were in college. His journey into the movie world has changed his language, so that he could fit in. When I spoke my unchanged Telangana with utmost ease, he was so happy to hear it. Today when I called him up, he told me he watched ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ in a theater in Hyderabad. After seeing the audience dance to Gaddar’s song, he became convinced that ‘we will get Telangana; if not now, if not in ten years, even if it takes 50 years, we will get Telangana’. He says he has witnessed how ‘Telanganam’ flows through our veins and arteries.
‘Jai Bolo Telangana’ is a must watch for everyone in Telangana. You have to go sit in a theater to enjoy the experience. It is a duty of every Telangana person to go and watch it, not once, but many times, so that the movie maker makes money, so that he can regale us with another one which would be a greater experience than this one. We owe this to ourselves.
And those who are not part of Telangana but interested in Telangana Movement, you should see the movie in a theater in Telangana, so that you may understand the spirit that is now uniting entire Telangana in this struggle. If you want to watch a technically superior movie, go watch ‘Avatar’. But if you want to experience a genuine people’s revolution, if you want to listen to the heart beat of four-crore people, if you want to be part of the history in making, then go watch ‘Jai Bolo Telangana’. When you are surrounded by hundreds of singing and dancing ecstatic Telangana people to Gaddar’s song, you will also be convinced, ‘Telangana is a reality. Nothing can stop it now’.