Hong Kong action film and popular culture
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Fan Clubs
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Hong Kong Action Film in the Indian B Circuit
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Cinema Reloaded
Devotion & Defiance in Fan Activity

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Hong Kong Action Film
at the Frontiers of Cinema
CSCS - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

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As in neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, there are tens of thousands of fans’ associations dedicated to every major star (also some minor ones) of Telugu cinema. Hong Kong films circulated in a context when fan activity was at its height in Andhra Pradesh in the 1980s and 90s. Yet, there were no fans’ associations dedicated to Hong Kong stars. Not surprising, considering the close linkages, which persist to this day between fans’ associations and the politics of linguistic identity. For this reason fan activity of the kind and scale witnessed in the southern states has no parallels even in other parts of the country. The specificity, even uniqueness, of the phenomenon not withstanding, fan activity alerts us to the larger issue of the cinema’s relationship with, and ability to form, collectives. Do cinematic collectives or groups formed with cinema as a crucial focal point, have anything in common?

See Also: Devotion and defiance in fan activity

Telugu film star Balakrishna's fans meet every evening on the steps of a temple pond in the heart of the town ('Koneru gattu centre'). Only a few feet away the 'rival' star Chiranjeevi's fans meet. In February 2001 the two groups were not on talking terms due to arguments resulting from the comparison of Balakrishna's hit Narasimhanaidu (B. Gopal, 2001) with the disastrous performance of Chiranjeevi's Mrugaraju (Gunasekhar, 2001)

Fans of the Tamil stars. Akbar (second from right) and Sivaraman (first from left) organize Rajnikanth and Vijaykanth related fan activity respectively with the help of the others in the group. The boys work and live in hotels. Due to the limited resources available to them they limit their fan activity to decorating the hoardings on the cinema hall premises and throwing flowers on the screen.

Tirupathi is among the few major towns in Andhra Pradesh where Tamil films are released on a regular basis. Although the town's Telugu speaking population is fluent in Tamil, fan clubs of Tamil film stars are almost exclusively the domain of Tamil speakers.
Venkatesan, a retired Rajnikanth fan in Tirupathi. He now runs a refreshment stall in D.R. Mahal cinema hall. Although he still watches Rajnikanth films, he does not perform fan activity publicly any more. C. Lakshmayya, action film fan, auto painter and contractor. He has watched every Hong Kong and Hollywood action film released in town. More recently he has developed the habit of watching VCDs of action films at bedtime. He says that he does not follow English, the language in which most imported films were released in India till the late nineties.

Madanapalle, 2001. Members of Chiranjeevi Yuvatha gather in the office of a local politician B. Suresh ('Chinna') to check out this researcher. Chinna (not in the picture) is Kapu community organizer and patron of the local Chiranjeevi fans. Sampathi Ramana, a martial arts trainer, who is a Chiranjeevi fan too, is a regular visitor to this office. Madanapalle, 2001. B. Vijay Kumar, editor-publisher of the fanzine Yugastar Abhimani (left) and Venkat Sekhar Prasad, President, Nandamuri Yuvakishoram Balakrishna Fans, Townwide (right) pose before a photograph in Prasad's painting workshop.

Fans distribute fruit and bread to patients at the local hospital. Feeding the poor on the occasion of the star's birthday. A fan concludes his hunger strike in support of the star's controversial film Alluda Majaka (E.V.V. Satyanaraya, 1995). Feeding the poor on the occasion of the release of Chiranjeevi's Rickshawvodu (Kodi Ramakrishna, 1995)
From the star's office. These photographs were sent by fans from across the state to Chiranjeevi's office in Hyderabad as a testimony to the activities that were performed in his name. Most pictures are of activities performed in 1995-96.
'Munna', makes a box on the photograph to identify himself in a group of fans celebrating at a cinema hall. Celebration of the 50 day run of Alluda Majaka.

A fan publication of 'Superstar' Krishna fans titled Krishna Chitra. Krishna's fans have a reputation of being excessive, even by fan standards, in their adulation of the star. (Vaartha, 15th November 2002)
On more than one occasion Krishna has made appeals to fans, not to boycott films. More recently (2002) he made an appeal to viewers to watch his son Mahesh Babu's film Bobby (Sobhan, 2002). Responding to reports that the film's climax was not well received by viewers, the filmmaker altered it. Krishna then went public with the statement that the climax was changed in deference to viewers. He stated that viewers saw his son as their own and therefore could not bear to see him die in the original cut. He appealed to viewers to see the film with the altered end, which was a happy one. The appeal did not do much to improve the collections.