The South kickstarted 2023 with packed star vehicles during this Pongal and Sankranti season. Halfway into January, with the release of action entertainers Thunivu, Varisu, Waltair Veerayya and Veera Simha Reddy, it is already a blockbuster month for South Indian cinema. And this is only the beginning of what south Indian cinema is set to offer us this year.
2023 looks like a year of sequels with Lucifer 2, Ponniyin Selvan 2, Indian 2 and of course, Allu Arjun’s “It’s not flower, it’s fire” — Pushpa 2: The Rule all slated to hit the screens. This year is also set to see a few amazing combos like Mammootty and Jyothika in Kaathal and the Master duo Vijay and Lokesh Kanagaraj in Thalapathy 67. While there are mythologies set in the past with Samantha’s Shaakuntalam and Prabhas’ Adipurush, we also have films like Billa Ranga Baashaa that take us to the future.
On that note, here are 30 south films to watch out for this year.
Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Amala Paul, Umesh Kaushik
Aadujeevitham is about a migrant worker, Najeeb Muhammad (Prithviraj), who is forcefully migrated to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to herd goats. This survival drama is based on Benyamin’s novel of the same name. AR Rahman has composed the music for the film.
Director: Amal Neerad
Cast: Mammootty, Dulquer Salmaan
After 15 years, Mammootty will reprise his iconic character Bilal John Kurissingal from Big B (2007) which has a huge cult following. Amal Neerad announced this film with Mammootty back in 2017, marking his third collaboration with Mammootty after Big B and Bheeshma Parvam. Rumours suggest that Dulquer Salmaan too could be a part of this film and this only gets better if true!
Cast: Mohanlal, Sara Vega, Guru Somasundaram
Barroz marks the directorial debut of Mohanlal. Based on Barroz: Guardian of Da Gama's Treasure, the novel written by Jijo Punnoose, this 3D fantasy adventure revolves around a 400-year-old spirit, Barroz, who is waiting to hand over Vasco da Gama’s treasure to his true descendants.
Director: Abhilash Joshiy
Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Chemban Vinod Jose, Gokul Suresh
Touted to be a gangster film set in a factorial town, King of Kotha marks the directorial debut of Abhilash Joshiy, son of veteran director Joshiy.
Director: Rojin Thomas
One of the most expensive Malayalam films yet, Kathanar follows the story of legendary exorcist priest Kadamattathu Kathanar from the 9th century, who is believed to have possessed supernatural powers.
Director: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Cast: Mohanlal, Sachin Khedekar, Fazil, Prithviraj Sukumaran.
Prithviraj Sukumaran’s 2019 political thriller Lucifer featuring Mohanlal gets both a sequel and prequel in Empuraan. But for those who have not watched Lucifer, Prithviraj said Empuraan could be considered a standalone project too.
Director: Jeo Baby
Cast: Mammootty, Jyothika
After a long break, Jyothika makes a comeback in Malayalam cinema and how — paired opposite Mammootty for the first time. Directed by Jeo Baby of The Great Indian Kitchen fame, Kaathal is a light family drama that has heaps of expectations mounted up.
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
After the success of Master (2021), actor Vijay teams up with Lokesh Kanagaraj for a gangster thriller. Rumoured to be a part of the Loki cinematic universe, the IMDb page shows an interesting cast of Trisha Krishnan, Gautham Vasudev Menon, and Sanjay Dutt.
Director: Venky Alturi
Cast: Dhanush, Samyukta Menon, Sai Kumar
Vaathi, titled Sir in Telugu, is a period drama that follows the life of junior lecturer Balamurugan as he protests against the privatization of education.
Director: S Shankar
Cast: Kamal Hassan, Samurthirakani, Rakul Preet Singh
In one of the most expected sequels, Kamal Hassan reprises his role as Senapathy from the superhit film Indian (1996). While Indian featured Kamal Haasan as both father Senapathy and son Chandrabose, Indian 2 is said to focus on Senapathy and his father. Another dual-role thriller loading?
Date: April 14
Director: Nelson Dilipkumar
Cast: Rajinikanth, Shiva Rajkumar
Jailer is an action comedy film featuring the superstar Rajinikanth as the titular jailer named Muthuvel Pandian. While the plot remains under wraps, a vintage-style Rajinikanth teaser, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal's cameo and Shiva Rajkumar playing an important role have caught enough attention for the Tamil New Year feast.
Cast: Suriya, Disha Patani, Yogi Babu
Tentatively titled Suriya 42, the epic fantasy adventure film narrated through two different timelines — 17th century and present-day — will revolve around a warrior from the past and a young woman who researches about the disease that killed the warrior.
Director: Vignesh Shivan
Cast: Ajith Kumar
After the recent Thunivu, Ajith will be next seen in AK62, helmed by Vignesh Shivan. The director said that the actor has given him full freedom to do whatever he wants and the film will be one of a kind. A star feast? A solid content? Only time will tell.
Director: Pa Ranjith
Cast: Vikram, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Malavika Mohanan
Based on true events, Thangalaan is set in the Kolar Gold Mines during the pre-Independence era. It follows the life of a tribal community at KGF and traces their struggle as they fight against the Britishers to save their lands.
Date: April 28
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Vikram, Karthi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha Krishnan, Jayam Ravi
Based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novel Ponniyin Selvan, Mani Ratnam’s epic historical film was one of the biggest hits of 2022. Set during the Chola dynasty, the second installment will delve deep into the story of the three siblings, the mushrooming rivalry and the battle of minds and deception.
Cast: Allu Arjun, Rashmika Mandanna, Fahadh Faasil
Pushpa 2: The Rule is described as “bigger and better than Pushpa: The Rise”. As Allu Arjun, Rashmika Mandanna and Fahadh Faasil reprise their roles, the sequel concludes the rivalry between Pushpa and Bhanwar Singh.
Director: Trivikram Srinivas
Cast: Mahesh Babu
After 13 years, Mahesh Babu and Trivikram Srinivas team up for the third time for SSMB28, an action entertainer. They had earlier collaborated for Athadu (2005) and Khaleja (2010). Pooja Hegde has been roped in to play the female lead in the film.
Date: March 30
Director: Srikanth Odhela
Cast: Nani, Keerthy Suresh, Samuthirakani, Sai Kumar and Zarina Wahab
Set in the backdrop of Singareni coal mines, Dasara narrates the struggles and rebellious tale of the labour class in the mines, led by their emerging leader Dharani (Nani).
Date: September 28
Director: Prashanth Neel
Cast: Prabhas, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Shruthi Hassan
What happens when the Baahubali and the minds of KGF meet? A Salaar is made. One of the most anticipated films of the year, Prabhas teams up with Prashanth Neel and Hombale Films for the first time for what the producers call, a grander project.
Date: March 30
Director: Krish Jagarlamudi
Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Nidhhi Agerwal, Bobby Deol
Set during the Mughal era, the period action entertainer traces the story of an outlaw Veera Mallu and his mission to steal Kohinoor-esque diamond. Bollywood actor Bobby Deol, in his Telugu debut, essays the role of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The man of the hour, MM Keeravaani has composed the music for this pan-Indian film.
Director: SS Rajamouli
Cast: Mahesh Babu
Superstar Mahesh Babu teams up with SS Rajamouli for a globe-trotting action-adventure film, which is said to be a franchise with many stars joining the cinematic universe in later parts.
Director: Om Raut
Cast: Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon
Adipurush is an adaptation of the epic Ramayana and Prabhas will be seen essaying the role of Lord Ram. This 3D pan-Indian film has Saif Ali Khan playing Ravana and Kriti Sanon playing Sita.
Date: February 17
Cast: Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Dev Mohan, Allu Arha
Based on Kalidasa’s play Shakuntala, this pan-Indian 3D film explores the epic love story of King Dushyant and Shakuntala from the Mahabharatha.
Date: 26 January
Director: V Harikrishna
Cast: Darshan, Rachita Ram
V. Harikrishna’s directorial Kranti is a social drama that explores the education system and the condition of government schools.
Director: Anup Bhandari
Cast: Kiccha Sudeep
Billa Ranga Baashaa is a futuristic thriller set in 2209 AD. Vikrant Rona director Anup Bhandari and Kiccha Sudeep reunite for this film. Interestingly, the duo will also work together on Ashwatthama and the sequel to Vikrant Rona.
Director: Hemanth M. Rao
Cast: Rakshit Shetty, Pavitra Lokesh, Achyuth Kumar
While Sapta Sagaradaache Yello is a romantic tale at the heart of it, this intense drama sees Rakshit Shetty in two different roles, set a decade apart from one another. The actor has gone through a body transformation for the same and looks more rugged in the second look.
Director: Rakshit Shetty
Cast: Rakshit Shetty
The directorial comeback for Rakshit Shetty, Richard Anthony, is a period drama with elements of crime and thriller. The film is a sequel and prequel to the cult film Ulidavaru Kandante (2014) and it follows the character Richie (Rakshit Shetty) from the movie.
Director: M Chandramouli
Cast: Ram Gowda, Dimple Hayathi
M Chandramouli, the dialogue writer of KGF, helms this romantic action entertainer starring Aditi Prabhudeva, Saikumar, Sharath Lohitashwa in prominent roles.
Director: R Chandru
Cast: Upendra, Sudeep, Shriya Saran
Set during pre-independence India, Kabzaa is a period gangster film narrating the journey of a freedom fighter’s son who gets trapped into the world of mafia and goes on to become the King of the underworld.
Cast: Vinay Rajkumar, Aditi Prabhudeva
Set in the 90s, Andondittu Kaala, which means ‘once upon a time’, is a romantic entertainer nestled in a family drama.