Tier-1 leads in TFI are Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, Jr. NTR, Allu Arjun and Ram Charan. They are Tier-1, not because of their family backgrounds but due to the market they command.
Tier-2 leads are those popular actors who have a market and star status like Nani, Naga Chaitanya, Nithiin, Sai Dharam Tej, Varun Tej, Vijay Devarakonda. Nikhil comes under Tier-2 but his market hasn't grown to the heights of others.
Sharwanand also falls into Nikhil's category. Rising in popularity young actors like Naga Shourya, Karthikeya Gummakonda come under Tier-3. Manchu family needs to produce hits or at least viable good films, for us to determine their category, for now, they belong to none.
From Tier-1 to Tier-3 heroes, Telugu Film Industry lacks consistency. With Tier-1, the problems are different and the heroes seem to be working on the issues constantly. We may see some changes in the way they operate in next 5 years.
But Industry needs Tier-2 and Tier-3, young rising stars to survive longer. Here, TFI was lucky to have stars or popular actors who could give tough competition to big stars, in previous generations. When it comes to this generation, the lack of consistency in hurting Industry more than ever.
Nani gave 7 back to back profitable films but his graph has suddenly gone into unpredictable zone from dependable in past two years. May be we can say that the oscillating fortunes are common for any actor after a prolonged profound run at box office. Only Nani seems to be set for future with base in families.
Akkineni Naga Chaitanya has always been hit and miss actor. He seems to have finally found family entertainment and love genre films as his go-to zone. But can he maintain consistency, a big issue that only future can answer.
Sharwanand, Nikhil and Nithiin seem to be judging scripts based on a Novel idea than the entirety. In case of Sai Dharam Tej and Varun Tej, Mega Family base in the audiences will always be a boost for them. SDT did give comeback hits and Varun seems to have identified changes in genres he attempts, as his strategy.
Again, like Sharwanand, Nikhil and Nithiin, they also have been oscillating with their script decisions. Varun might be consistent considerably, but he still has a long way to go.
Then what about others like Karthikeya, Naga Shaurya? They just don't seem to have found proper functioning objective as they are trying to attempt what Tier-1 is attempting on a small scale.
In the case of Vijay Devarakonda, he seems to be in a space that follows any actor after meteoric rise. But is he showing promise to mend his ways?
With young directors also, the confusion is clear. They seem very confused on how to proceed with their ideas as full length scripts. We find great ideas or episodes that promise brilliance but that is not translating properly on screen.
When you have a hero who is trying to eye Rajni style or Pawan Kalyan or Mahesh style rise to stardom and looking to find his signature formula, packaging that ambition into your story becomes a key for a director. We cannot always expect a actor to just walk-in to a film and submit himself to you.
That is never the case even with likes of Kantha Rao or Harnath or Ramakrishna or Murali Mohan or Suman or Rajasekhar or Srikanth or Jagapathi Babu, the yesteryear Tier-2 stars too. They had their own personal inputs in every film they did and fall-outs with directors who did not come across as the person, they can trust.
But they became the backbone of Industry along with long and big game players like ANR, NTR, Krishna, Sobhan Babu, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna and Venkatesh. They did have their formulas following these big stars path but they showed signs of consistency.
Rajasekhar until release of Okkaduchalu did have good mass base as a Tier-2 star and Jagapathi Babu, Srikanth had good base in families until flops made them look at character roles. Rajendra Prasad, Naresh laid a path for the likes of Allari Naresh to follow but even he seems to have gone completely inconsistent.
The lack of directors like Mutthyala Subbaiah, Relangi Narasimha Rao, KSR Das, PC Reddy, Sagar, EVV Satyanarayana, Jandhyala, Kodi Ramakrishna who could consistently deliver for Tier-1 or Tier-2 heroes when big established market players like Kovelamudi Raghavendra Rao, Dasari Narayana Rao, Kondarami Reddy are busy with big budget films and vice versa, is also a huge problem today.
Never Dasari or Raghavendra Rao limited themselves to one category of stars and never Tier-1 stars had problem to work with likes of Muttayala Subbaiah or Sagar, who were essentially seen as limited filmmakers in comparison to bigwigs when handling big projects. Still they also delivered with big stars.
This rotation gave a chance for directors to improve themselves and explore. And for actors, this made them more versatile and confident. But today, we see even Vijay Devarakonda sticking to what works on him than exploring himself.
We see, Nithiin also trying to stick to similar stories that worked for big stars in his range, SDT trying to satisfy Mega fanbase with references and Sharwanand still trying ideas than scripts.
They all can come out and say that, they don't get such scripts that they can clearly lose themselves or submit themselves to. Directors might say they can't just think like previous generation when World Cinema is available to everyone in their smartphone.
But Film Industry thrives on innovation and new formula. It can't just go back as a cycle to familiar formulas as they expire quick. In films, the only constant should be freshness and invention!