the swashbucklers !

(swordplay part 3) douglas fairbanks sr., 'the king of hollywood', was the first real star of this genre- call it costume epics, adventure movies, period dramas or as in telugu cinema- folk movies. from 1916 till the end of the 1920s, his meticulously crafted image of the dashing, sword-wielding do-gooder held american and other audiences' unstinted attention. a few years into the thirties and his name steadily slipped off the marquee. when he rose, his climb was swift, and when he fell, no one really missed him. you could find a few parallels in indian cinema too: particularly in the careers of stars of this genre.
in the thirties, errol flynn became the reigning sabre-rattler. douglas fairbanks jr. too tried his hand- but tasted little success. but the genre hung on and never really died. it changed, shifted shapes and wormed its way into various other forms.
'Adventure Films are exciting stories, with new experiences or exotic locales. Adventure films are very similar to the action film genre, in that they are designed to provide an action-filled, energetic experience for the film viewer. Rather than the predominant emphasis on violence and fighting that is found in action films, however, the viewer of adventure films can live vicariously through the travels, conquests, explorations, creation of empires, struggles and situations that confront the main characters, actual historical figures or protagonists.' this from a pundit.
i'll pick on the last line- ' actual historical figures or protagonists'. folk movies in telugu never attempted to situate their plots in any particular age or period of history. as i said earlier, the time element never really bothered the makers- delivering vicarious pleasure to the audiences did. this is the point where hollywood and desi cinema part company and go their separate ways. most hollywood period adventures were set in some actual periods or based on works of fiction of authors of those periods. in telugu, the film that comes closest to being classified as a period drama set in a particular age was 'malleswari' and it can hardly be called an adventure flick. 'ekaveera' was based on a work of fiction set in a particular age, but that was the rare exception. the earliest telugu folk movies drew their themes from folk tales which had been passed down through generations and generally revolved around metamorphosing legends loosely connected with various village deities. the later films mimicked the format but generally evolved their own content. and the content, in my view, reflected the time they were made in more than the time they were supposedly set in.
(the picture shows c.h.narayan rao, one of the earliest telugu stars.)


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