Friday, March 25, 2016

On Trivikram Srinivas, again

I was contacted a few months ago by a lady who was working with Trivikram to set up his official website. She had stumbled across this blog while searching for anyone who wrote on Trivikram and we had a couple of long telephonic conversations where she told me how there was more to Trivikram than was evident from his films and that that website was going to act as a two-way channel- for Trivikram to discuss things that were close to his heart and for his fans to approach him with their thoughts and opinions.

Given that I am excited with any serious discussion of Telugu Cinema and Literature, I loved the idea, especially since Trivikram has always been very vocal about his literary leanings and since this lady, Indira, was a journalist who seemed very passionate about Trivikram. I also introduced her to Neo, who I knew was as big a Trivikram fan as anyone. We had a few brain-storming discussions as to what sort of sections were to be included and I'd requested for a long Art of Fiction like conversation with the man himself.

For some reason the project fell apart, though the website is live now. She'd asked me to give her content for the About page, and I was sent quite some material and a deadline of two days. And the following is what I wrote. Admittedly, there are whiffs of sycophancy, particularly because I knew Trivikram was going to read and approve it, but most of the feelings were true; Atleast at one point in time. I still admire Trivikram for the work he's done and the image he's built, but mostly because he brought a certain respectability to intellect in an industry where oligarchic idiots rein. And for making writing sexy.

To Trivikram Srinivas: Maatala Mantrikudu, Sahitya Pipaasi, Gaddamunna Medhavi.



Akella Naga Srinivas, popularly known as Trivikram, is among the most popular and acclaimed filmakers working in the Telugu Film Industry, Tollywood. Hailed by his legions of admirers as 'Maatala Mantrikudu', or the Wizard of Words, he started his career in the film industry as a dialogue and screenplay writer, and soon became the most sought after scriptwriter in the industry. Known for his famous 'punch dialogues', where the exchange of words between characters resembles a rapid chess match, his popularity as a writer was unprecedented to the extent where for the first time ever audience flocked to the theaters not because of the hero or the director, but because of the writer.

Hailing from a middle-class Brahmin family, he brought a certain literary sensibility to his films, and though for the most part he has made family entertainers, an undercurrent of social criticism runs beneath the surface and his films deal with important issues like marriage, tradition, social hierarchy, godhood, familial bonds among other things. For an audience becoming increasingly alienated with the characters portrayed on screen, his scripts have become life-affirming elixir. His characters are everyday people, their conversations real and their issues and conflicts are handled with deserving gravitas.

Not just as a writer, but as a director too, Trivikram has been in the forefront of the change that Tollywood has been seeing in the last decade-and-a-half. His films are technically superior, comparable to World Cinema which he deeply admires, and the action sequences in his films are equivalent to Hollywood films. Apart from his prolific output as a writer and a director, he is also a lyricist and a much sought after public speaker.

All of this, though, does not do justice to his immense talent and his influence on the Telugu culture, and it is not an exaggeration to say that people will talk about his work for decades to come. It is said that the most infallible indicator of the influence of an artist's work is the impact it has on the everyday lives of the people in the society. Trivikram's writing has seeped so deeply into Telugu people's lives that his most iconic lines are less film dialogues and more freestanding aphorisms. And he continues to do more inspiring work.

His legacy is already assured. The words will live on.

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