There was a time when Hindi cinema was projected as Indian cinema and it was “Humiliating” as he belongs to Telegu film industries, known as Chiranjeevi has said, while crediting films such as Baahubali and RRR with breaking language barriers and making them proud.
The superstar’s emotional address, delivered at a pre-release event of his latest film Acharya, comes amid a pushback from South India against alleged attempts to impose Hindi as a national language.
“In 1988, I made a movie called Rudraveena with Naga Babu. It won the Nargis Dutt Award For Best Feature Film On National Integration. 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 high tea before that.
“We were having tea in the hall. The walls around us were decorated with posters showcasing the grandeur of Indian cinema. There were some brief notes. There were photos of Prithiviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra and so on. They showed their pictures, they described them beautifully. They praised various directors and heroines.”
“And we thought they would also talk about South Indian cinema in such great detail. But they just showed a still image of MGR (M G Ramachandran) and Jayalalithaa dancing. They described it as South Indian cinema. And Prem Nazir, who 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 welling up.
The actor then went on to list the big names from South Indian cinema that did not find a mention at all – Dr Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, N T 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 projected only Hindi cinema as Indian cinema. And they dismissed other industries as regional language cinema. They didn’t even bother to acknowledge its contribution,” he said.
Mr Chiranjeevi went on to say that films such as Baahubali 1, Baahubali 2 and RRR have made Telugu cinema proud.
S S Rajamouli, director of the films standing beside him, the renowned actor said, “After so many years, today I feel so proud, I can thump my chest. Our industry proved that we are no longer a regional cinema. Telugu cinema has removed these barriers and become part of Indian cinema. Everyone is amazed at our success. We have overcome the discrimination. Thanks to Baahubali, Baahubali 2 and RRR,” he said.