Re: Weekend Thoughts! - Death of a monther Tongue

Sreenivas Paruchuri (sreeni@ktpsp1.uni-paderborn.de)
Thu, 23 May 1996 11:01:11 +0200 (MET DST)

> Telugu by nature is a "derivative" language, and that is what constitutes
> its unique genius. It doesn't have its own Silappadikkaaram or Manimekalai,
> the original Telugu classic is a retelling of a Sanskrit epic. Modern

First of all a comparision with cilappadikaaram and maNimEgalai
is IMO not correct, and similarly saying that the original Telugu
classic is an adaptation of some Sanskrit epic. Presently we know
very little to nothing about pre-nannaya period. On contrary Tamil
literature was better preserved over centuries and unlike Telugu it
was not rolled over by the socalled "Sanskrit juggernaut". The arrival
of CP Brown was IMHO one of the best things that ever happened to
Telugu literature and history. Sad, that its not rightly acknowledged!
nannecODa's _kumaara sambhavam_ was discovered (incidentally in Madras
old manuscripts' library) only in the first decade of this century and
for quite some time it was believed that he was predecessor to nannayya.
Perhaps we may know more about pre-nannaya period in future. I still have
hopes. As seetaaraamayya gaaru said one problem is lack of funding.
Without encouragement and financial incentives its difficult to pursue
such work. Brown succeedede partly because he paid generously to the
scholars hired by him. And people approached him offering old manuscripts,
expecting some money in return.
[_braun jaabulu_ published by BanGoRe make extremely interesting reading.]
He spent a sum of Rs 30, 000 on just acquiring material (apparently from
his own pocket!) way back in 1830s and '40s.

> Telugu literature has drawn a great deal of inspiration from European
> literature. I am far from being a qualified judge, but there is a question
This was already addressed by others.

> of the artistic caliber of the great Bengali or Malayalam auteurs.
That always reminds me the proverb: "poruginTi pullakoora ruci". Sorry,
no offense meant!

> year I saw the Satyajit Ray retrospective, and I tried unsuccessfully
> to think of a Telugu director who captured the essence of the Telugu
> land with the same clarity that Ray's films did for Bengal. Ironically,

> adaptation? I saw Kurosawa's "Ran", which one might say is nothing but
> King Lear. But it was also very Japanese to me. ( I know that we have
> such adpatations in Telugu movies as well. Maybe we need more of those,

I hesitated really for very long time to followup to the above message,
as discussing filmy matters on this forum may not be appropriate. But, at
last decided to go ahead, trying to present some facts about Telugu films.
It seems to be a wide spread (mis)perception that in Telugu we did'/don't
have a SS Ray. 3 weeks ago I received a message from a Telusaer saying
that a recent issue of an American magazine _ENTERTAINMENT_ carried
a special feature on Great Film Directors and only Ray figures in it.
And my friend wondered: "When do our famous directors come to light and
acquire a place in the world film." I am afraid that a large no. of them
can't even be nominated if one adheres to the criteria followed in selecting
Ray, Goddard et al. Because these people simply made so called "formula"
films. They may be "creative", "innovative" in their own right, but don't
fulfill the requirements defined by the 'film critics'. Before I further
digress ..... I indeed find Telugu directors who captured the essence of
Telugu land. Unfortunately the names gooDavalli, taapee caaNakya, Tilak,
narasinga raavu et al are forgotten. As a hobby filmo- and disco-grapher
I am somewhat obsessed with the history of old Telugu cinema and 'd be
glad to discuss these matters elsewhere. Presently a project is going
on with my net-friend where brief sketches and complete filmographies of
fifty (mostly old time) directors would be brought out in form of a small
book. Hopefully the electronic version of this project 'd be available on
web by early winter this year.

Ha, King Lear was VERY well adapated by Telugu film makers also. Watch
vaahini/KV Reddy's "guNasundari katha" (1949, a big hit!) and it looks
very much Telugu.

Regards,
Sreenivas