Casteism in Telugu Film industry is a popular topic of discussion over the tea or alcohol among the Telugu folks as the term ” Caste” cannot be plucked away from any rubbish thing in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Whether it is Politics, trades, marriage , or for that matter renting out to the houses to tenants …… From birth to the death every thing is said to be connected to the castes in some districts of Andhra Pradesh and Why does this stinking word leave Film industry apart. Let us have a detailed look in to the fact to understand how much the casteism in industry is effecting the artists and the business.
In order to understand whether the caste matters, we need to find out the castes of various Top Actors, influential top producers , directors and the movie distribution network companies.
80% of Tollywood Heroes ( Lead actors ) belong to Kamma Caste
It all started with the entry of Akkineni Nageshwar Rao back in early 1950s from the Drama stage to the Film field. Nageshwar Rao with his slim body and fair look and with the experience of stage dramas had seen some unimaginable luck with back to back hits. He became one of the first stars of Telugu Cinema and he belongs to kamma Caste. Followed by ANR, NTR too chased his dream of becoming an actor ( infact hero ) and with the help of LV Prasad ( belongs to Kamma Caste ) snatched an opportunity to get meaty roles in big cinemas.
ANR and NTR became two top stars of Telugu film industry by some how managing the tough competition from other actors like Kantha Rao and Narasimha Raju who lost their star dom some how in the middle of their careers. While Kantha Rao belonged to Telangana region, Narasimha raju is known to taste the anger of NTR and ANR.
The second generation super stars Krishna and Shobhan babu too belonged to Kamma caste. Their Competitor Krishnam Raju ( Uncle of Bahubali Prabhas ) belongs to other Kshatriya Community known as Rajus.
There were lot of mediocre and low stardom actors like Muralimohan, Mohan babu etc too belonged to Kamma caste.
Therefore, till 80s the entire star fraternity of the Telugu film industry was dominated by the Kamma ( Chowdhury ) caste of Andhra Pradesh. All these Chowdhuries hailed mostly from Krishna and Guntur districts of Andhra pradesh. So one can easily understand the region factor too influenced the opportunities.
There came a Thunderbolt who was neither good looking nor had the caste support but just little acting skills, hardworking nature and impeccable dancing skills.
He is none other than Chiranjeevi ( then known as Siva Sankara Vara Prasad ). He belonged to Kapu Caste of Godavari districts.
Chiranjeevi after a very little success as lead actor got married to the daughter of the rich comedian and actor Allu Ramalingaiah. Allu Ramalingiah hailed from rich family and was a successful comedian which made his son a top producer in film industry ( All Aravind is the producer of Ghajini starring Amirkhan which grossed 100 Cr ).
With the help of Allu Ramalingaiah and his dancing and action skillls, Chiranjeevi became one of the top actors by the end of 80s. The early 90s witnessed Chiranjeevi being labelled as the Megastar of Tollywood and he became the first indian actor to charge Rs. 1Cr per movie.
There was a huge competition between actor Suman and chiranjeevi in late 80s for the top slot. Almost for couple of years both competed with each other but mysteriously Actor Suman not only lost his stardom but also his movies and in no time Suman became a low budget movies actor.
This made Chiranjeevi a clear champion as other Kamma actors like Balakrishna ( Son of NTR ) , Nagarjuna ( son of Nageshwar Rao ) could not give tough competition to this non Kamma actor who hailed from no where all of a sudden and clinched the top slot in a blink of time making mighty kammas to lose the battle.
For Almost two decades Chiranjeevi remained as the top actor of Telugu cinemas and took the path of politics leaving the top slot for the upcoming young actors.
When Chiranjeevi founded Prajarajyam party and contested general elections in 2009, there was huge vaccum created for the top slot as the senior actors like Balakrishna , nagarjuna and venkatesh have lost their huge markets to Pavan Kalyan, NTR and Mahesh babu.
Pavan Kalyan was a natural heir to Chiranjeevi ( being younger brother ) and grabbed huge following among youth with just 7 movies in his career. However with consecutive failures and failing to select stories and ofcourse the laziness ( acting less than one movie in year sometimes ) made Pavan Kalyan to stay from clinching his brother’s position.
Though his son Ramcharan tej tasted Industry hit with Magadheera the entire credit went to the director SS. Rajamouli as the actor’s lateral movies were rejected by the audience.
NTR’s Grand son Junior NTR too looked promising with surprising hits but lost the game with consecutive failures leading one of his producer to try suicide due to financial loss of a film.
Today’s super star Mahesh babu had only one industry hit (Pokiri ) by that time and was also too slow in making films ( had no films for 2 years before Khaleja ).
Bahubali Prabhas was never in the race of top slot though he had box office stamina.
NTR, Pavan Kalyan and Mahesh babu were the only promising actors chasing the top slot. Out of this NTR lost in big time after had struggles in achieving 40 cr club for long time.
Pavankalyan and Mahesh babu has always achieved 40 Cr gross with their movies irrespective of failures.
40Cr gross was considered as highest threshold for Telugu cinemas until Bahubali
By 2016 only Mahesh babu and Pavan Kalyan had multiple 40Cr+ gross movies making them clear constestants for the top slot.
Again the Tollywood globe stopped at the War room in which one Kamma and one Kapu are fighting for the top slot.
Mahesh Babu remained the clear winner for couple of years , specially during the success of Srimanthudu which grosssed 100 Cr making first Telugu non bahubali film to do so.
So, The Top slot felt like it went to the Kammas again for some time.