This decade has brought with it a fair number of Telugu films that have broken free of stereotypes and introduced the audience to a style of filmmaking that’s fresh and inventive. It has also shone the spotlight on some very promising filmmakers, who have managed both critical and commercial acclaim with their very first film.
Tharun Bhascker Dasssayam
From a director who struggled to meet his production cost to winning a National Award for his very first film, Tharun has seen it all. Pellichoopulu is a new-age rom-com about Prashant (Vijay Deverakonda) and Chitra (Ritu Varma), both hailing from middle class families. The sync sound, unique characters and lived-in dialogues make this film special. Tharun’s second film Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi? was also widely appreciated.
These days, those outside the Telugu-speaking States might know him as the Mahanati director, but Nag shone even in his debut Yevade Subramanyam. This philosophical film was about a person on the path of self-discovery and was narrated in a very entertaining manner. The journey of Subramanyam, played convincingly by Nani, challenges our perspective and mindset towards life. He won a Nandi Award for Best Director for this film. These days, he’s in the news for his Prabhas-Deepika Padukone-Amitabh Bachchan film.
One can call Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya an ode to Chiranjeevi-starrer Chantabbai (1986). Director Swaroop pulled off this thriller-comedy with an insight into meaningful conversations around certain anti-social practices in society. Naveen Polishetty played the goofy titular character and the film sets a world of mysterious crimes parallel to a realistic comedy track. Swaroop’s next is about bounty hunters and is set in Tirupati.
Venkatesh’s debut film C/o Kancharapalem took home most of the critical acclaim among Telugu films in 2018. This film with a parallel narrative is about the lives of ordinary people. Maha’s well-crafted plot connects the dots of the story beautifully. He also cast his film well. His next film Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya, a remake of the Malayalam hit Maheshinte Prathikaram came in for appreciation on OTT.
Bharat Kamma’s Dear Comrade, starring Rashmika Mandanna and Vijay Deverakonda, fused a well-thought-out storyline that dealt with a serious issue and a romance that made you smile. It was released in four South Indian languages, and marked the arrival of an assured director.
The mystery-thriller HIT: The First Case directed by Shailesh Kolanu and co-produced by Nani is a genre-based film that feeds off a sharp police investigation plot. Vishwak Sen plays a
brooding cop with a psychological disorder who investigates a case. Shailesh’s attention to detail shows in the writing, and HIT thrives on the gritty atmosphere it creates. He’s now working on the sequel.
Based on true events during the Indo-Pak War in 1971, The Ghazi Attack directed by Sankalp Reddy, is a story of unsung heroes of the Indian Navy. It depicts their patriotism, valour and sacrifice. It won the Best Feature Film in Telugu at the 65th National Awards in 2018. Sankalp’s vision was complemented by a great cast, striking dialogues and good production design and visual effects. His second film Antariksham 9000 KMPH, a space thriller, also earned its share of praise.
Kshanam, directed by Ravikanth Perepu, is a mystery-thriller revolving around a missing girl. Two people who once were in love join hands to find a child. What follows is a deeply atmospheric thriller. Ravikanth made the most of his lead actor Adivi Sesh and the ensemble cast. He bagged the Nandi Award alongside Adivi Sesh for Best Screenplay. The recent OTT releases Krishna and his Leela brought Ravikanth acclaim for its direction, while his editing in Bhanumati & Ramakrishna came in for appreciation.
Rom-com Ninnu Kori was the directorial debut of Shiva Nirvana. It starred Nani, Nivetha Thomas and Aadhi Pinisetty. The film is character-driven and Shiva spent time developing his characters, each of whom deals with pain and turbulence. His second film Majili, starring Naga Chaitanya and Samantha Akkineni, gained a positive response too. This has triggered huge expectations around his upcoming projects Tuck Jagadish and #VD12.
Mental Madilo is a new-age romcom starring Shree Vishnu and Nivetha Pethuraj. Vivek deals with the indecisiveness among millennials when it comes to love. His second film Brochevarevaru Ra, a comedy thriller, was also lauded by critics and the audience for its amazing screenplay and great storyline.