After a lull of many months, broken briefly by some big ticket films releasing on OTT, the South Indian film industry is looking forward to 2021, the year of Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Master, among other tentpole films. And going by the list of releases slated for January on OTT and in theatres, hope floats high. Here’s a lowdown on what Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada cinema have to offer audiences.
Maara (January 8), Amazon Prime Video
After the critically acclaimed short film Kalki, director Dhilip Kumar adapts the Malayalam cult classic Charlie in Maara, starring Madhavan, Shraddha Srinath and Sshivada. The crew has stated that though the soul of the film would remain faithful to the original, the treatment is different. Music is by Ghibran.
Master (January 13)
A lot has been spoken about this Vijay-starrer which sees him associate for the first time with director Lokesh Kanagaraj. Even though its release date has been pushed by almost a year due to the pandemic, the buzz has not reduced one bit. After a long-drawn ‘will it’ or ‘won’t it’, the film finally hits theatres on January 13, in time for Pongal. The film also stars Vijay Sethupathi as the antagonist, Malavika Mohanan, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj and Arjun Das. The chartbuster soundtrack is by Anirudh, and cinematography by Satyan Sooryan also calls for special mention.
Eeshwaran (January 14)
Silambarasan, who has undergone a physical transformation, goes all-out rural for this family drama from director Suseenthiran. From the teaser, the film appears to be in line with recent hits such as Kadaikutty Singham and Namma Veetu Pillai. The cast also features Bharathiraja, Nanditha Swetha and Nidhi Agerwal, and music is by S Thaman.
Bhoomi (January 14, Hotstar+Disney)
From the Armageddon-ish Tik Tik Tik to Zombie caper Miruthan, actor Jayam Ravi has never shied away from choosing unconventional scripts. Bhoomi tells the story of an astronaut’s attempt to save a village and endorse new-age farming. Director Lakshman collaborates with the actor for the third time after Romeo Juliet and Bogan.
Krack (January 9)
After the success of Don Seenu (2010) and Balupu (2013), director Gopichand Malineni’s third collaboration with actor Ravi Teja sees the actor don the role of sub-inspector Veera Shankar. Touted to be a commercial entertainer, the star cast includes Shruti Haasan, Ali, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and Samuthirakani. Music is by S Thaman.
Red (January 14)
After the success of Chitralahari, director Kishore Tirumala’s next film is inspired by the Tamil hit Thadam. The film stars Ram Pothineni, Nivetha Pethuraj, Malvika Sharma, Amritha Aiyer and Sampath Raj. Music is by Mani Sharma, who also composed for Ram’s previous i-Smart Shankar.
Aranya (January 15)
This trilingual starring Rana Dagubatti, Vishnu Vishal (Tamil and Telugu), and Pulkit Samrat (Hindi) can be seen as the third outing in director Prabhu Soloman’s elephant trilogy, which began with Kumki and moved on to Kumki 2. Music is by Shantanu Moitra and cinematography by AR Ashok Kumar.
Mail (January 12) Aha
Telugu cinema is on an experimental arc. From the success of c/o Kancharapalem till the recent Middle Class Melodies, we have been treated to some good films. Following this streak is Mail, directed by Uday Gurrala, which explores the effect of the Internet being introduced in rural Telangana. The cast includes Priyadarshi, Harshith Malgireddy, Mani Aegurala and Gowri Priya Reddy.
11th Hour, Aha
Director Praveen Sattaru known for films such as PSV Garuda Vega, and Guntur Talkies, helms this drama series, an adaptation of the novel 8 Hours by Upendra Namburi. Produced by Pradeep Uppalapati, The plot explores the life of a CEO who fights against the odds to save the organisation which is at the brink of financial collapse. The series also marks Tamannaah Bhatia’s foray into OTT platform. Her other series November Story which premieres later this year.
In a normal year, Sankranthi would see a number of Kannada movies lined up for release. Post-Covid-19, all the major releases have been pushed to April. However, this year, the cycle of theatrical releases begins with Dhruva Sarja-starrer starrer Pogaru, directed by Nanda Kishore, and co-starring Rashmika Madanna. It is slated for a January release, but the date is yet to be confirmed.
Guardian (January 1 on Prime Reels)
This investigative thriller starring Saiju Kurupu and Miya George made its premiere in Prime Reels, an OTT platform specifically for Malayalam cinema that follows the pay-per-view method. The film is directed by Satheesh Paul. The cast includes Sijoy Varghese and Nayana Elza.
Confessions of Cuckoo (January 8, Prime Reels)
Starring Durga Krishna and Arjun Nandakumar in the lead, director Jay Jithin’s film dwells on the topic of child abuse.
Vaakku (January 15, Prime Reels)
Debut director Sujith S Nair’s film tells the tale of a missing person and the consequences that follow. Actor-director Madhupal pens the story, and the film has an interesting cast — Anu Hassan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mohammed Musthafa (director of Kapella), Sudhir Karamana, Parvathy Ratheesh and Devi Ajith.
Sumesh & Ramesh (January 22, Prime Reels)
Sreenath Bhasi and Balu Varghese come together in this comedy that seems to be made up of a series of banter between two brothers. The film also includes Salim Kumar and Praveena in key roles. Director Sanoop Thykoodam, who earlier wrote Vikruthi & Chunks, has co-written the story with Joseph Vijeesh.