'Centenary celebrations of Indian cinema disgrace to Telugu film industry'

Chennai, Sep 25 (IANS) Telugu producer Katragadda Murari has called the recently concluded centenary celebrations of Indian cinema a "disgrace" for the Telugu film industry as several veterans were not invited and those who attended were not given due respect. Telugu actor-filmmaker R. Narayana Murthy left the function midway.

The four-day (Sep 21-24) centenary celebrations concluded here Tuesday. On Monday, 41 legends of Indian cinema were honoured by President Pranab Mukherjee who presided over the event organised by the Tamil Nadu government and the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm surprised several industry veterans from Chennai were not even invited for the event. Artists such as Vennelakanti Rajeshwara Prasad and Bhuvanchandra were among those who were not invited. I was told I would be invited but nobody contacted me and therefore I decided not to go. It's a disgrace to our industry," Murari told IANS.

"If a committee is planning to honour an artist then it should let him or her know well in advance. Most of them didn't have a clue that they will be honoured until the minute they were called upon to receive their awards," he added.

Murari said the event lacked a basic sense of planning.

"They should have ideally given a single pass for all the four days but artists had to wait everyday at the entrance to pick up their passes. I was told that most of the artists who were honoured had to return their shawls and mementos because the committee had run out of stock," he said.

"I still can't fathom how careless was the organising committee in this regard. I came to learn that a few artists left the event midway when their awards were taken back," said Murari.

Many other Telugu artists including actress Kavita, who is a member of the Telugu Desam Party, and actor-filmmaker R. Narayana Murthy had something similar to say.

Kavita was heartbroken when she was not even invited for the event.

"I'm a senior artist and have worked in over 150 films. I don't understand how the organisers didn't even think of inviting me. I'm extremely upset," Kavita told IANS.

Kavita has worked with several southern stalwarts such as N.T. Rama Rao, M.G. Ramachandran and superstar Rajinikanth.

"Actresses much younger to me were invited and honoured on the stage. Does this mean nobody gives importance to seniority? Or should I think my contribution was not even worthy of getting an invitation to the event," she added.

"I'm extremely saddened that I have been treated like this by my own industry. I never expected this kind of treatment. Several seniors too were not considered for the ceremony," she said.

Murthy, known for making films such as "Swatantra Bharatam", "Dandora" and "Veera Telangana", attended the event but walked out midway.

"I thought we were paying tribute to hundred years of Indian cinema but all that I saw on the stage were cultural events, dance and some skits. Is this how we pay our respect to our cinema," a miffed Murthy asked.

"...I just couldn't stand it, so I walked away," he added.

Telugu artists such as Mohan Babu, Dasari Narayana Rao, Mahesh Babu, Prabhas and many others also did not attend the event.

When asked about the complaints C. Kalyan, president, South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, said that when you organize such a big event some mistakes are bound to occur.

"I agree mistakes may have happened but we didn’t stop anyone from coming. We may have missed inviting some artists but all of them were welcome to attend the function,” Kalyan told IANS.

“All these artists are accusing us of not inviting them but if they really love their industry, then they should have just landed up at the event. Moreover, most senior artists from Telugu cinema didn’t show up for personal reasons. We can’t be held accountable for that,” he added.

Talking about Kavita, he said they didn't invite her because she is busy with her political career. "However, when she called me on the day of the event I didn’t stop her from coming. I welcomed her to join us but she didn’t turn up. What more could we do,” said Kalyan.