The recent Oscar win of the song Naatu Naatu from the Telugu film RRR has reignited the national-versus-regional debate in India. While the film industry in India is known globally for Bollywood, regional film industries, especially those from the South, have been gaining popularity and critical acclaim in recent years. When Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel referred to RRR as a Bollywood film, fans on social media quickly corrected him, emphasizing that it was a Telugu film from the Telugu film industry.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy tweeted on Naatu Naatu Oscars win
The controversy surrounding the film’s categorization has sparked a debate about the identity of Indian cinema and its various regional industries. Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy tweeted after Naatu Naatu Oscars win, “The Telugu flag is flying higher! I’m filled with pride on a Telugu song, that so beautifully celebrates our folk heritage, being given its due recognition internationally today.”
Singer Adnan Sami reacted to his tweet, “What a regional minded frog in a pond who can’t think about the ocean because it’s beyond his tiny nose!! Shame on you for creating regional divides & unable to embrace or preach national pride! Jai HIND!.”
It sparked the national versus regional debate on social media and Adnan Sami faced backlash for his comments on the matter. He attempted to clarify that all regional film industries together form the Indian film industry, even if Bollywood may be more popular. He wrote, “My issue has never been about the language. My issue has been very simple… All languages, regardless of their origin & dialect are ultimately under the one umbrella of being INDIAN FIRST & then anything else – That’s all! I have sung innumerable songs in regional languages with the same effort & respect equally for all.”
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SS Rajamouli said RRR is not a Bollywood film
Previously, director SS Rajamouli, who hails from a Telugu-speaking region in India, made it clear that RRR is not a Bollywood film, but a Telugu film from the South of India. He said, “RRR is not a Bollywood film; it is a Telugu film from the south of India, where I come from.” He emphasized that regional identity is important in India and should not be overshadowed by national identity.
DMK spokesperson also opened up on this with India Today and said, “India is a multicultural society based on language – the identity comes from one’s mother tongue. I will identify myself as a Tamilian first. That should not be confused with being Indian….. all of us are proud Indians. We are very proud to be Indians but that cannot obliterate my identity. My identity is my language. That’s why the states are divided on the basis of language. That’s what our forefathers thought fit and that’s the basis of our Constitution. There’s nothing wrong in flaunting our regional identity…. we are not one.”
India is a multicultural country, and language is an integral part of its identity. While all Indians are proud of their national identity, regional identity is equally important and should not be ignored. The regional-versus-national debate will continue, but it is essential to recognize and celebrate the diversity of Indian cinema and its various regional industries.
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