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Megastar: Chiranjeevi and Telugu Cinema after N.T. Rama Rao

S.V. Srinivas, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009

Telugu cinema constitutes the second largest film industry in India, next only to Hindi in Mumbai. The first in-depth study of Telugu cinema, Megastar analyses the powerful presence of popular culture and how films influence our daily lives in different ways.

Why do the biggest south Indian stars, especially those who cannot die on screen, retire as politicians? Challenging established stereotypes, this book traces the career of ‘Megastar’ Chiranjeevi from major movie idol to leader of the political party, Praja Rajyam. Spanning three decades of Chiranjeevi’s career––from 1978 to 2008––as he was transformed from screen ‘rowdy’ to ‘reformer’, the book also analyses the uniquely south Indian phenomenon of fans’ associations and ‘mass films’. Srinivas’s ambitious interpretation throws new light on the complex relationship between popular cultural forms and mass politics.

The large number of movie stills and related visuals help highlight the fan-star-spectator relationship. They also illustrate the means by which the star emerges as an object of spectatorial investment, performing to our whistles and acting out our will. The book offers insights into what such a star might carry over from the cinema to the domain of electoral politics.

With its interdisciplinary approach and rich visual appeal, Megastar will be invaluable to students of film, media, cultural studies, sociology, politics, and history, as well as to general readers interested in Indian cinema.

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