15 Best Telugu Romances Of All Time
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There are hundreds of love stories in Telugu cinema, but there are only a few that stand the test of time. Some movies like K. S. Prakash Rao’s Prema Nagar (1971) and Sukumar’s Arya (2004) have a good re-watch value, but they tend to concentrate on a particular type of self-loathing rather than addressing the subject of heartbreak. And when it comes to laugh-a-minute marathons, such as Vijaya Bhaskar’s Nuvvu Naaku Nachav (2001) and Mohanakrishna Indraganti’s Ashta Chamma (2008), the sole purpose seems to be, more than anything else, to tickle the funny bone. Although these are gems truly, they can’t be exactly termed great romances.

Here, then, is a list of hand-picked movies that will make you love, laugh, cry, and maybe even rock you to sleep:

Devadasu (1953)

Director: Vedantam Raghavaiah

Telugu cinema has mollycoddled many love-sick men. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, Devdas, which has been adapted for the screen several times in several languages, remains a benchmark to this day. And even though many actors have drunk themselves to death to capture the heartbreak that they can’t repair, only Akkineni Nageswara Rao stands on top of the list. His portrayal of a rich and arrogant young man who acts selfishly is faultless. 

Devadasu is very much a product of its time. There are many scenes where the eponymous hero hits Parvati (Savitri) for voicing her opinions and, thereafter, it doesn’t take too much time for him to regret and offer a few words of comfort and affection. Parvati, for the sake of love, though, keeps protecting him in the hope that he’ll change for the better and learn to accept life as it comes. Devadasu carries some of the best performances of the twentieth century. 

*Streaming on YouTube

 Missamma (1955)

Director: L. V. Prasad

Before N. T. Rama Rao became an action star, he appeared in various feel-good comedies. In Missamma, he stars as an educated young man, named M. T. Rao, who tricks his way into finding an employment opportunity with the help of his companion, Mary (Savitri). But that’s not the best part about this movie, which also stars S. V. Ranga Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao. 

Rama Rao, with his charming smile, pencil thin moustache, and wavy hair, performs naturally without raising his voice anywhere. He’s more at home here than in his later films, such as Adavi Ramudu (1977) and Bobbili Puli (1982). If you visit Missamma after catching him in those dramas, it’ll boggle your mind. Come to think of it, Rama Rao could have also become a heartthrob by focusing majorly on romantic comedies, but he chose to endear himself to the masses by throwing punches at his screen opponents.  

Where To Watch: YouTube

Mooga Manasulu (1964)

Director: Adurthi Subba Rao

Mooga Manasulu, which is based on the concept of soul-mates and reincarnation, doesn’t handle the core theme with care. It kneads the drama’s dough as though it’s a simple story about unrequited love, but you have to remember that the film was made more than half a century ago. Akkineni Nageswara Rao as a boatman, named Gopi, who showers praise and devotion on Radha (Savitri), is at the height of his powers here. 

And Savitri, for her part, plays a character that requires her to keep her emotions to herself throughout the movie. She doesn’t express her innermost thoughts to Gopi because she’s not too sure if her object of affection would be interested in reciprocating her feelings. However, things work in their favor, albeit in their next birth, and their Manasulu (hearts) finally get a chance to embrace. 

*Streaming on YouTube

 Maro Charitra (1978)

Director: K. Balachander

Maro Charitra sort of begins on an audacious note. Balachander tells the viewers that this is going to be an extraordinary love story in the opening scenes through his principal characters, Balu (Kamal Haasan) and Swapna (Saritha). The filmmaker knows that it’s a risky idea to push the leads of a romance movie off a cliff, but he goes for it anyway to show that he can mix the plotlines of youthful buoyancy and tragedy in a bowl and serve it fresh to his audience. His gamble works perfectly. 

The movie doesn’t dive into the caste differences between Balu and Swapna much. However, it makes it a point to put a spoke in the wheels of the languages that are spoken by them at their respective homes — she’s a Telugu and he’s a Tamilian. Since its release, Maro Charitra has been remade in numerous languages, but the original walks away with the largest share of the applause. 

*Streaming on YouTube

 Geethanjali (1989)

Director: Mani Ratnam

Can a gloomy story about a woman and a man who are on the verge of dying appear happy and cheerful? What do you call it — optimism or foolhardiness? Many philosophers have debated on the topic of death and they’ve all come up with different views that are satisfying in their own ways. Geethanjali is not a treatise on death or the act of giving up. It is, in fact, a movie about riding the wave despite knowing that it may come to an end sooner rather than later. 

The only bits from Geethanjali that don’t work today are unarguably the ones that are created around the characters played by Suthivelu and Disco Shanti. The plot concerning them is unnecessarily centered on adultery to add a pinch of comic relief. Nonetheless, this is a film that’ll inspire a couple more generations of writers and directors. If you want to roam around a hill station à la Nagarjuna and Girija, you should learn the lyrics to “Aamani Paadave Haayiga;” they’ll come in handy. 

*Streaming on YouTube

Ninne Pelladatha (1996)

Director: Krishna Vamsi

Nagarjuna and Tabu is a combination made in heaven. Ninne Pelladatha is the Mysore Pak of romantic dramas. It’s soft and sweet at the right places and it only becomes a little gooey towards the end. This may even seem like the movie’s USP for people who crave high-tension climactic resolutions. Isn’t it sort of amazing how this film has so many cool songs and pleasing wisecracks? 

The best part about Ninne Pelladatha is the manner in which Mahalakshmi (Tabu) and Seenu (Nagarjuna) make the art of falling and being in love look so simple. It’s not rocket science. It shouldn’t be a difficult outcome to achieve when the actors are specifically preparing to portray a certain kind of chemistry. But that doesn’t happen every day. So, when it happens, clap your hands and cheer for the duo. 

*Streaming on YouTube and Disney+ Hotstar 

Manasantha Nuvve (2001)

Director: V. N. Aditya

Whenever somebody mentions Manasantha Nuvve, your mind immediately has to sprint to the image where a young boy runs behind a jeep with a rolling tyre, singing, “Tuneega Tuneega.” It’s definitely a picture that stays rent-free in the collective consciousness of Telugu movie buffs. The makers probably didn’t know they were making something powerful back then, but, almost twenty years later, the song still holds the reins to an era gone by. 

The story of how Chanti (Uday Kiran) waits for Anu (Reema Sen), his childhood friend, for more than a decade without having a clue about where she is – or what she may be doing – is marvelous. The director seems to be saying that people can fall in love only once in a lifetime. Can two people really hope that they’ll find their way back into love? It’s a cliché, of course, but it clearly works for this movie. 

*Streaming on YouTube

 Jayam (2002)

Director: Teja

Are you ready to lose your sleep for a day or two? If yes, then you can gladly pick one blockbuster song from the album. And what’s it going to be – “Bandi, Bandi, Railu Bandi,” or “Raanu, Raanu,” or “Priyathama Thelusuna,” or “Andamaina Manasulo?” Do you see why it’s not an easy job? 

And for any movie, a title that symbolizes victory is risky. What if it turns out to be drab? Well, here’s a better one – what if it meets with a disastrous fate at the box office? In the early days, Teja’s genius was obviously in making the leads likeable and a tad bit vulnerable. The characters that Nithiin and Sadha portray in this film are that of regular small-towners. When they begin to trade shy smiles, they learn that the world they live in is not hunky-dory. However, they reach the final lap of victory after impairing the baddie (played menacingly by Gopichand). It’s a happy ending indeed for the lovers. 

*Streaming on MX Player

 Anand (2004)

Director: Sekhar Kammula

Anand, even after all these years, remains a film that brings joy to the viewers. It’s a comedy in which the gags land perfectly and a romantic adventure where the protagonists (played by Kamalinee Mukherjee and Raja) don’t mince words. Adventures needn’t always have to be set in the Wild West. It can be set in a neighborhood with a gang of twenty-somethings and a couple of children, too. Oh, guns don’t go off here! You’ll just be invited to hear beautiful conversations and songs. Isn’t that more than enough? 

The biggest asset that Anand has acquired over the course of a decade and a half is a loyal fan base that pays respects to the tagline (Manchi Coffee Lanti Cinema) and its dozen-odd characters. And just like Jayam, Anand lives up to its simple title. It spreads happiness and wholesome vibes that’ll stay with you for a lifetime. This is a story of love for the ages. 

*Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

 Godavari (2006)

Director: Sekhar Kammula

Godavari is yet another magical delicacy from the house of Kammula and though it feels bigger and richer, it’s just as warm as Anand. It’s a mystery as to how well these two films complement each other. Their storylines aren’t similar, but there’s a connecting thread that passes through them. Some may say that the thread is Kamalinee Mukherjee since she stars in this drama, as well, nevertheless the facts point toward the way the female characters are written. 

Seetha Mahalakshmi from Godavari and Roopa from Anand feel like real people. You don’t think of them as mere cardboard characters. They have an equal role to play in the larger scheme of things. And, more importantly, they won’t tolerate the likes of Arjun Reddy. These are some of the qualities that make these movies stand apart from the regular fare of senseless tales that revolve around love and longing. 

*Streaming on YouTube

 Ye Maaya Chesave (2010)

Director: Gautham Menon

Ye Maaya Chesave creates many moods – it takes the viewers on a roller-coaster ride, for it makes its protagonists, Karthik (Naga Chaitanya) and Jessie (Samantha), go through a tidal wave of emotions. What don’t you have here? You get a song at first sight where Karthik jumps with joy to dance to, “Ee Hrudayam,” many flirtatious exchanges that make the duo giggle like love-struck teenagers, heated arguments that end up making them shed tears, and hugs that can possibly melt ice caps. 

The Tamil version, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, is unanimously considered a finer moving picture because of its bittersweet ending. But Ye Maaya Chesave stands on its own two feet despite opting for a closing scene that’s more conventional. For people who can watch and digest both, Menon’s movies can certainly be a treat. And for those who can’t handle the pills of reality, this Telugu offering can be considered a safer plane landing. 

*Streaming on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video

Ala Modalaindi (2011)

Director: Nandini Reddy

Some of the jokes from Ala Modalaindi don’t land well. It goes for the low-hanging fruits and, as a result, they pull the overall watchability quotient a bit down. However, if you are able to move past those sticky junctures, you’ll soon find out that this is a refreshing piece of cinema that walks the line between comedy and romance. 

Nithya (Nithya Menen) doesn’t like to use a mobile phone. She disses the modern technological device and warns her friends to stay away from it. But if she had called the love of her life, Gautam (Nani), every now and then and enquired about his emotional well-being, she wouldn’t have faced so many problems in her life. But, joking apart, Ala Modalaindi is fantastic from beginning to end and the whole universe should once again conspire to bring Menen and Nani back together for a thoroughbred rom-com. 

*Streaming on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video 

 Oohalu Gusagusalade (2014)

Director: Srinivas Avasarala

Almost an hour and a half into Oohalu Gusagusalade, Uday (Srinivas Avasarala), while sitting across from Siri (Raashi Khanna), at a restaurant, drops a cheesy bomb – he tells her that beauty is stuck to her face and she can’t do anything to wipe it away. It is, if you give it a moment’s thought, an outright pickup line. However, since its silliness is wrapped in the bacon of delicious comedy, it hits the target. Siri doesn’t throw her hands over him excitedly and convey her desire to spend a lifetime of bliss in his company, but she gives him a gentle smile and moves on to prod him about the meaning of beauty. 

Oohalu Gusagusalade is full of such amusing conversations. And though Siri actually likes Venky (Naga Shourya), you indubitably root for Uday, as he’s a first-rate babbler. 

*Streaming on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video 

Pelli Choopulu (2016)

Director: Tharun Bhascker

If a ridiculous meme-page says, “An aimless boy and an ambitious girl make the best pair,” don’t laugh it off. There’s a great amount of truth to it. Tharun Bhascker knew about it and that’s why he made Pelli Choopulu. Don’t you remember how Chitra (Ritu Varma) pushes Prasanth (Vijay Deverakonda) to move out of his comfort zone? She tells him softly – and then strictly – to hone his skills instead of being a slacker. 

She opens a door and allows him to peek at all the various responsibilities that are attached to adulthood. Somehow, this convinces him to give it a shot and the movie, in turn, gives you a chance to reassess your needs and wants. It may not be the director’s intention to do so, but when a romantic comedy rekindles your spirit, you won’t be able to control your happy heart. Art, after all, helps you shape your belief system. 

*Streaming on SunNXT 

Sammohanam (2018)

Director: Mohanakrishna Indraganti

Sammohanam cannot be spoken about without mentioning Vivek Sagar. The movie has just four songs in the album and all of them are brilliant. If you believe in the theory called “love at first sight,” then you should also believe in “love at first hearing.” Without Sagar’s brilliance, this film wouldn’t have become such a candy-flavored rom-com. Needless to say, Indraganti deserves all the praise for coming up with a cute storyline and for roping in Aditi Rao Hydari, Sudheer Babu, Pavithra Lokesh, and Naresh, thereby creating a heart-warming movie that never fails to regale the audience. 

A running gag in the film involves a discussion between a children’s book illustrator and an aspiring actor, and it’s lovely to watch the respective people support their chosen fields of interest in their own quirky manners. Naresh, with his over-the-top performance, is a delight to behold and so is Hydari who keeps switching between grief and gratitude. 

*Streaming on ETV Win

 

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