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Netflix South India gets its Telugu all wrong

Telugu-speaking netizens are miffed with the streaming giant's South anthem and social media handles

Srivathsan Nadadhur
Jul 12, 2021
 
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Apart from a few purple patches (i.e. a few OTT releases like Alaa Vaikunthapurramulo, Uppena, Wild Dog, Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya), Netflix is yet to get its act right with Telugu content despite entering India nearly four years ago. The much anticipated first Telugu anthology of Netflix, Pitta Kathalu, arrived very late and created hardly any buzz. Pitta Kathalu, which brought together four acclaimed directors including Tharun Bhascker, Nandini Reddy, Sankalp Reddy and Nag Ashwin, was a dud that didn't give much space to local talent or broke any new ground with its storytelling.

Though Netflix is trying to aggressively make up for it by signing one anthology after the other with several Telugu filmmakers, it's safe to say that it hasn't captured the imagination of the Telugu populace like Amazon Prime Video at least. Netflix made a lot of noise recently for the launch of its South Indian content handle across social networking platforms. As part of the same, the OTT giant even released a rap anthem, Namma Stories, to celebrate the popular culture, choices and lifestyles of people speaking all the South Indian languages, namely Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

While Kartik Shah's tune gets its peppy beats for Namma Stories right, the likes of Neeraj Madhav, Arivu, SIRI and Hanumankind have sung for the number. Though the catchy number remains inoffensive for the most part, the Telugu portion by Arivu is as mediocre as it can get, the lyrics are unimaginative, to put it mildly. Firstly, it's hard to understand why couldn't they find one Telugu rapper for a number that supposedly represents the content coming from the South Indian states? Adding insult to injury, the rapper incorrectly pronounces Baahubali as 'Bujabali' and uses words like 'kirrak macha' - a phrase hardly used by the Telugus.

Moreover, in a series of tweets where Netflix had collaborated with Spotify and Swiggy to introduce the South Indian handle of the platform, the Telugu tweet went horribly wrong, reading, 'Playlist ceyandi, maja cestama @spotifyindia.' Telugu netizens were visibly upset with the way the platform went about the tweet and gave it back to Netflix with a series of angry responses. 

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One hopes Netflix learns from its follies and make a genuine attempt to understand the tastes of regional audiences henceforth.

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