Films About Films: Eight Films, Including The Recent Halal Love Story, Which Look Within

From Upendra’s Shhh! to Tharun Bhascker’s Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, check out these films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam that speak of the magical world of movies.
Films About Films: Eight Films, Including The Recent Halal Love Story, Which Look Within

What makes show business such an integral part of our lives that we're waiting for theatres to open and for the biggies to release? There's no other medium that holds such power over millions of people across the globe. Here's a list of handpicked South Indian films that narrate the tales of actors, filmmakers and everybody in-between.

Jigarthanda – Tamil

Available on: Disney+Hotstar

Jigarthanda is easily director Karthik Subbaraj's best work till date. He mixes the brouhaha around filmmaking with the patois of the underworld in a way that makes it hard for you to take your eyes off the screen. Though Siddharth plays the lead in this movie, it's Bobby Simha you're going to end up falling in love with. His portrayal as an ageing don is one of the finest in Tamil cinema, and the hilarious touches that the other actors bring to the screen are equally top-notch.

This is essentially a thriller about how the film industry lures people from different sections of society, and how only a few lucky ones get to enjoy stardom.

 Seethakaathi – Tamil

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

Once a Telugu actor known for playing a drunkard confessed he never took a sip of alcohol while filming as the film set was a divine space. In Seethakaathi, Ayya Aadhimoolam (Vijay Sethupathi) considers the stage as one such abode. He sticks to his methods and morals till his last breath and leaves an everlasting impression in the field of theatre.

Though Seethakaathi was marketed as Vijay Sethupathi's 25th film as a lead, the actor isn't seen throughout the movie. And that's the USP, since it speaks about the spirit of acting (literally and metaphorically).

 Shhh! – Kannada

Available on: YouTube

This horror thriller, directed by Upendra, catapulted him into overnight stardom. Till then, Upendra had only made a name for himself as a writer and director, and not as an actor. He was one of the top filmmakers in the 90s, with  most of his movies becoming talking points among critics and filmgoers. But as he started headlining films, his popularity took on a different shape.

Before the democratisation of filmmaking, the general public thought that the industry worked in mysterious ways, for it held the secret formula of creating celebrities. Shhh! broke that myth and showed fans of Kannada cinema how movies were made.

A – Kannada

Available on: YouTube

A is yet another film made by Upendra. But, for this project, the director took on another responsibility — he was the lead actor too. And, just like Shhh!, A revolves around making a movie. More importantly, it's a film about obsessive love and stalking. Its portrayal of an arrogant and egoistic man is more toxic than Arjun Reddy.

A has not aged well, like other films from that period, since it suffers from a unique disorder, in which the values it espouses are antithetical to the workings of the 21st Century.

Sammohanam – Telugu

Available on: ETVWin

Sammohanam is brilliant. And, that's an understatement as it has several things to offer. It's funny and poignant in different places and the way it shows the coming together of a man and woman in a romantic relationship is eye-candy-ish. The music, which is perfect, adds several extra layers to their friendship, and that's why Vijay (Sudheer Babu) and Sameera (Aditi Rao Hydari) appeal.

Romcoms come and go every year, and you might not remember all of them, but Sammohanam will go down in the history of Telugu cinema as a wonderful film about love and filmmaking (as Sameera plays an actor).

 Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi – Telugu

Available on: Netflix

What do you think happens when four engineering students team up to make short films? Of course, it's going to be a comedy. Almost every dialogue from Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi has become meme-material now, as it can be adapted to mundane situations pretty well. If Abhinav Gomatam walked away with the best lines and comic timing, Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam walked away with pats on the back for his script.

It's rare to find buddy comedies in Telugu cinema that beam the spotlight on all characters equally. Yes, there's romance in this film, too, and there's a love song featuring the leads, but look at the way the other characters huddle around the hero — they don't praise him to the skies unnecessarily.  

 Best Actor – Malayalam

Available on: Disney+Hotstar

The title of this Mammootty-starrer can be seen in two ways — 1. The journey of a budding actor. 2. The award (and adulation) given to an actor who has been proving his mettle since the 80s. 

In Best Actor, Mohan (Mammootty) joins a gang of goondas to understand the work they do. What might have sounded silly on paper translates into an above-average feature that highlights the struggles of actors who have talent, but no avenues to perform.

Like Udayananu Tharam, another cult Malayalam comedy drama, Best Actor is also a film that tells the tale of people who get swayed by the film industry.  

 Halal Love Story – Malayalam

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

Can the members of a conservative religious organisation make a tele film? Yes, they definitely can! But what are they going to come up with?  That's the central idea behind Halal Love Story. The movie chooses around half a dozen characters to navigate through the lanes of comedy, drama, familial love and hugs.

This Indrajith Sukumaran and Grace Antony starrer also allows room for discussions on the relationship between estranged spouses, the compromises that directors make to finish their films, and how certain organisations stifle creative freedom.

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