Pongal And Sankranti Releases From South India Ranked From Worst To Best 
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The year has just begun and we already have a few strong contenders for the Razzie Awards. But Aal Izz Well since there were some terrific releases on OTT and theatres last week. This list, however, does not include movies such as Vikky (Kannada) and Cycle (Telugu) as they were screened in a limited number of screens.

9. Alludu Adhurs

Language: Telugu

Director: Santosh Srinivas

Where: Theatres

You may need to get a new brain after watching Alludu Adhurs. It has got everything from flying machetes to Prakash Raj shouting at the top of his lungs. It’s a combo offer that you cannot refuse. By the way, why isn’t sitting through this film listed as an extreme sport, yet? People who are too afraid to walk into scary houses in malls can sit back in socially-distanced comfortable chairs and experience their worst fears come alive. Perhaps, learning to spell floccinaucinihilipilification is easier than seeing the hero try his hand at extracting humour from the people surrounding him.

8. Bhoomi

Language: Tamil

Director: Lakshman

Where: Disney+Hotstar

The director seems to have made an entire film by throwing the words “Vande Mataram” and “Tamizhan” into a slot machine. Oh, yeah, the machine, in turn, spat out the screenplay for Bhoomi. If there’s one actor who deserves sympathy this month, it is Jayam Ravi, for his character throws around factoids as though they were confetti. Didn’t anybody fact-check while making tall claims about farming? Moreover, the enemy is not always an outsider with a fancy English name like Richard Child. There are many greedy corporate organisations being operated by people of our own color and language. Then, like a cherry on this cake, there’s red tapism too.

7. Eeswaran

Language: Tamil

Director: Suseenthiran

Where: Theatres

Silambarasan is probably the only actor who has remained an enigma in the Tamil film industry. He stars in a string of mediocre films and then drops off the radar and makes a comeback only to star in yet another mediocre film. It’s hard to understand his transformation, too. Well, he’s certainly an actor who knows his job. There’s no doubt about that. But what can one say when he picks up a movie in which the central conflict is as old as the Western Ghats. A father who doesn’t know that the guy whose shoulder he leans on is his own son! Really?

6. Pulikkuthi Pandi

Language: Tamil

Director: Muthaiah

Where: Sun NXT

The men in Muthaiah’s films are usually seen with an aruvaal or two. His scripts run on the power of dhotis, liquor and moustaches. It’s not a bad thing, after all. Bharathiraja also made village-based films. But there’s a certain kind of sensibility in his oeuvre that you can’t find in the world created by the maker of Pulikkuthi Pandi. Although the story of a family taking revenge against the murderers of a man who wanted nothing but peace sounds chilling and exciting (for cinematic purposes), the execution is far from flawless. And the taste it leaves in the mouth happens to be musty.

5. Master

Language: Tamil

Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj

Where: Theatres

When Gautham Vasudev Menon joined hands with Kamal Haasan for Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, the filmmaker showed us all that he could pull off a crime drama with an A-list star. That’s exactly what Mani Ratnam did a few decades ago with the same actor. And the result was Nayakan! Menon and Ratnam had made blockbusters before collaborating with the Ulaganayagan. But they did not miss the forest for the trees when they finally got the chance to showcase their skills to the front-row audience. With Master, in a bid to appeal to the masses, Lokesh Kanagaraj has made a film that’s neither fully whistle-worthy nor an all-guns-blazing thriller.

4. Red

Language: Telugu

Director: Kishore Tirumala

Where: Theatres

Remaking a thriller is not always a good idea because the viewers would be aware of the nuts and bolts of the twists before entering the movie halls. But Tirumala goes ahead with it anyway and gives Ram Pothineni a bigger stage to perform. It’s not exactly a surprising movie, though. The characters in Red stick to what their counterparts did in the Tamil original Thadam, but that doesn’t stop them from investing in building the narrative from scratch. It’s a middle-of-the-road remake that doesn’t raise the stakes beyond a point and lets the loud background score do the heavy-lifting.

3. Mail

Language: Telugu

Director: Uday Gurrala

Where: Aha

Set in the times of the early days of Gmail, Mail is a cute and innocent story of a bunch of small town men who realise that everything they see on the Internet isn’t true. It’s another matter as to why people believe in the sanctity of WhatsApp University even today. But that debate is for another winter. Sometimes, it’s only in these niche films that you can witness the truthfulness of storytelling — the chaotically-energising Middle Class Melodies is another stunning example. Mail sizzles with the charm of period setting with regard to computers and the disappointment of having an email account and not knowing what to do with it.

2. Krack

Language: Telugu

Director: Gopichand Malineni

Where: Theatres

This is a great comeback for Mass Maharaja Ravi Teja. After starring in a string of utterly deplorable movies, Teja finds his way back to the canals of entertaining mainstream cinema with Krack. He dances, fights, and even utters punch lines like there’s no tomorrow. He plays a cop in this meaty drama where he gets to stay on top of the ladder all the time. Whenever he falls down, he picks himself up with the help of his eye for detail and manages to win the war despite losing a few battles. Also, this is a cool comeback for Shruti Haasan. It won’t hurt Telugu cinema if she appears in a lot more films henceforth.  

1. The Great Indian Kitchen

Language: Malayalam  

Director: Jeo Baby

Where: Pay-Per-View On Neestream

Even if The Great Indian Kitchen had been set in any part of the country, things wouldn’t have changed much. Maybe, the language would have sounded different, and, in case of a city like Mumbai, the independent house would have been replaced by an apartment. But the duties that are expected to be performed by women in general would have remained the same.

A married woman, here, has to get a green signal from her husband and her father-in-law to apply for a job. And the latter genuinely feels that women are best suited for domestic chores. This is an important and a timely film, and a slap in the face of patriarchy.

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