From ‘Annamayya’ to ‘Mahanati’: How Tollywood has portrayed polygamy
Polygamy is something that we have inherited from the past and somehow not yet able to cut ourselves loose. It starts at the very roots of patriarchal society where male dominates over its counterpart on every front. Sadly, this has been reflected in mindset of vast majority of people of our country. Telugu film industry is no exception to this. Male oriented pictures are very common in the industry where females exist only to support the hero. There have been a lot of movies where actresses are given a kind of role where they are used only as victims so that a hero can come and rescue them from misery. On similar lines there have been movies from the very beginning of Telugu film industry which have used polygamy as a side plot to bring humor into story. The harsh truth is that it has been accepted by audience very conveniently without slightest objections. Let’s take a look at some of the Telugu movies and how polygamy has been portrayed.
1) Annamayya was released in 1997 and depicted Nagarjun’s character getting married to two of his cousins who later on gave up their lives to free him from all responsibilities. The very concept is wrong where females are shown nothing more than a responsibility or duty.
2) Mahanti depicted life of actress Savitri. It had various scenes showing the compatibility of two wives of same person. Though it had excuse of showing real life incidents but it failed to even faintly condemn the very concept of polygamy.
Various other movies have been made part of mainstream Telugu cinema which have shown polygamy in a very light-hearted tone. Most of them fail to address the problems faced by the wives under polygamy. In fact, a lot of them even fails to show slightest discomfort of the former wife when the hero introduces his second wife. This in fact puts light on dark reality of film industry. Low pay scales, weak story line up, less lines and ineffective roles of actress are very common in the film industry. Scripts fail to show the importance of actress in movies and hence they remain underrated even after putting equal efforts in the making of a movie.
There is a very urgent need for us to grow as an audience and stop accepting such movies which deals with serious subjects in a comic plot. Only if we become aware and start raising our voices, then only we can expect the trend to change in movies. Though there are very little hopes to see a big change in the recent times but who are we if not hopeful. Especially to all the female actors out there, I request to reject such movies and be the change that they also want to see in the audience. If they will keep on accepting such roles, then nothing will stop directors to make such films with scripts that are completely biased towards one gender. The collective conscious of the industry seems to be failing when it comes to polygamy and other women related issues. Talking about such serious issues in light heartedness is itself a sin. Movies can become a tool to improve society’s ill mindset but lately this does not seem to be the case. In fact, it has been observed that it is rather acting as a catalyst in opposite direction. Fueling such mindsets through movies will only worsen the situation. If we do not act now, it will take at least another decade for us to recover from such practices. And the biggest player will always be women. Until and unless, women do not take it on themselves to get rid of these practices no one else is going to take interest in the same. Why wait till it happens to you? Why wait only when you see or hear a story about the victims? Its high time we try to change the course of what is being considered normal.