Aha’s movie library is small compared to the other behemoths currently ruling the OTT industry. But, there are some gems you’d like to watch. Check out this list of original Telugu films and some fine ones dubbed from languages such as Tamil and Malayalam. The genres range from romance and humour to action and social dramas, besides some slice-of-life creations.
Maa Vintha Gaadha Vinuma (2020)
Director: Aditya Mandala
A rom-com featuring Siddu Jonnalagadda and Seerat Kapoor, this throws the spotlight on online trolling and harassment. The funny bits that mostly appear during the unplanned wedding of the protagonists are on point. The most important section of the movie deals with the after-effects of cyber-bullying.
Colour Photo (2020)
Director: Sandeep Raj
Colour Photo stars Suhas and Chandini Chowdary, two actors who have proven their worth in a handful of films. Most of the cast and crew members began their careers as sketch comedians on YouTube. This romantic drama brims with tragedy and has lessons on what beauty actually means.
Moothon (2019, Dubbed)
Director: Geetu Mohandas
Who would have thought that Malayalam star Nivin Pauly would star in a role that required him to let go of his image? Moothon is dark in many places and, yet, full of a tenderness that one usually doesn’t see in mainstream Indian films.
Jallikattu (2019, Dubbed)
Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Jallikattu is terrific in terms of the images it creates and the cacophony it builds through its characters and situations. The entire movie rests on the story of a bull escaping from a slaughterhouse. It’s hilarious because all the men come together to catch it, hoping to have a grand feast at the end.
Trance (2020, Dubbed)
Director: Anwar Rasheed
The thing about superstition and blind belief in God is that they co-exist. In Trance, starring Fahadh Faasil, belief and superstition meet at quasi-religious institutions where faith healing takes place.
Director: Teja Marni
The Chief Minister of a state wants to spend Rs 3,000 crore on a statue in memory of his father. To make his dream come true, he pulls the plug on many initiatives undertaken by his government. Does the connection between the amount and the statue ring a bell?
Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna (2020)
Director: Srikanth Nagothi
This is a simple love story that brings a woman (Salony Luthra) and a man (Naveen Chandra) from different socio-economic backgrounds under one roof — office. The man doesn’t understand the concept of a live-in relationship and the woman doesn’t like it when she’s reminded that she’s 30 and hasn’t settled down yet.
Krishna And His Leela (2020)
Director: Ravikanth Perepu
Krishna And His Leela presents the story of a confused man (Siddu Jonnalagadda) and how his desire to be in love with two women (Shraddha Srinath and Shalini Vadnikatti) at the same time affects his psyche. Of course, he cheats on both of them.
Kanulu Kanulanu Dochayante (2020, Dubbed)
Director: Desingh Periyasamy
What if two best buddies get conned by another pair of best buddies? Kanulu Kanulanu Dochayante (the original is the Tamil Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal) is a perfect and interesting weekend watch, for it inverts the tropes usually associated with the rom-com genre.
Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru (2019)
Director: Ravi Kiran Kola
Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru has an awesome soundtrack album that you can listen to, on loop. And that’s not the only good thing about this movie. Like many young men in the real world, the hero (Kiran Abbavaram) doesn’t know how to pour his heart out. It’s the lack of courage and communication skills that holds him back. Well, that’s what happens to the female lead (Rahasya Gorak) too.
Khaidi (2019, Dubbed)
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
There are two brilliant scenes in this Karthi-starrer — one is where his character sits down to finish a large plate of biryani, which you can almost smell, and the other one involves a Gatling gun. It’s hard to pick one amongst the two since they’re both equally amazing in their own ways.
Director: Vamshi Paidipally
In this multi-starrer action comedy, too much happens in too little time. It’s definitely a multi-starrer because Allu Arjun and Ram Charan star in it, along with Kajal Aggarwal, Shruti Haasan and Amy Jackson. But all of them don’t appear together. If Yevadu had been a Hollywood film, it’d have been slotted under the science-fiction category.
Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2013)
Director: Srikanth Addala
If you’re a regular consumer of Telugu films, you couldn’t have missed the Relangi Mavayya (Prakash Raj) memes. There has been no other film like this in Telugu cinema and it’d certainly take a couple more decades to bring stars like Venkatesh and Mahesh Babu together on the big screen.
Atharintiki Daaredi (2013)
Every line in this film feels like philosophy (some good, some foolish). The magic lies in how director Trivikram manages to maintain the momentum till the end. Pawan Kalyan is at his best and so is every other actor here. Brahmanandam is, perhaps, the biggest draw for Atharintiki Daaredi.
Arya 2 (2009)
“Ringa Ringa” was an integral cultural aspect of Telugu weddings a decade ago. The song was so popular that people danced to it during festivals (mostly Ganesh Chaturthi), too. Though the movie doesn’t work as well as its predecessor, you can watch it for Allu Arjun’s crazy moves and the chemistry he shares with Navdeep.
100% Love (2011)
Director Sukumar’s 100% Love is more of an arithmetical comedy than a romantic comedy. It became a blockbuster because youth could connect to the little squabbles that erupted between the leads played by Naga Chaitanya and Tamannaah.
Vedam is an experiment of sorts, as it tells different stories from different perspectives. Like Yevadu, Vedam is also a multi-starrer, but the difference lies in the genre and how all the actors are cast against their type.
Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana (2005)
Director: Prabhu Deva
This film released at a time when both Siddharth and Trisha were pretty young and had just kickstarted their careers. It was relatively new ground for the stars as they hadn’t done an out-and-out Telugu rom-com until then.
Kanupapa (2016, Dubbed)
Mohanlal, who plays a visually-challenged character, does a great job in this thriller (the original is the Malayalam Oppam). How can a person who can’t see perform stunts? Valid question, and one solved by a good narrative.
Raghavan (2006, Dubbed)
Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon
This crime thriller, dubbed from the Tamil original Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, takes a deep dive into the lives of two serial killers and a cop on their chase. Harris Jayaraj’s music adds flavour to Raghavan’s (Kamal Haasan) relentless search for clues to nab the killers. It’s one of Gautham Vasudev Menon’s finest films.
Anukokunda Oka Roju (2005)
Director: Chandra Sekhar Yeleti
There’s a lot of comedy in this mystery thriller, and Jagapathi Babu is a treat to watch as a cool cop. This is also a film that makes you think how underrated and under-utilised an actor like Pavan Malhotra is.
No on-screen couple can be called evergreen, as the tastes of viewers keep changing. But Trisha and Prabhas are just perfect on-screen. And when you watch Varsham, you’ll agree with that statement.
Pawan Kalyan wears various hats in this comedy drama — he’s a naxal, an action hero, and a lover who grabs the attention of sisters (at different points). Jalsa is one of those movies you recommend when you wish your friend a speedy recovery from an ailment.
Director: Chandra Sekhar Yeleti
Aithe shook the industry when it won a National Award. It’s a parallel film, but there’s more to it. Its indie spirit doesn’t put a dent on your viewing experience and that’s what makes this little gem special.
Little Soldiers (1996)
Director: Gangaraju Gunnam
Inspired by the adventures that made the Home Alone series a golden goose in Hollywood, Gangaraju Gunnam turned his attention towards Telugu kids in the mid-90s. This crackerjack of a movie is easy on the eyes and heart.
Kshana Kshanam (1991)
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Venkatesh arrives on the screen almost half an hour into the film and until then Ram Gopal Varma doesn’t let you take your eyes off Sridevi. It’s common knowledge that the filmmaker admired the late actor, and Kshana Kshanam is the fruit of his prayers.
Gang Leader (1991)
Director: Vijaya Bapineedu
Bappi Lahari’s music fits this Chiranjeevi- Vijayashanti starrer like a glove. All the songs are hits, especially ‘Vaana Vaana Velluvaye’. It’ll outlive our generation and might get picked up in 2050, or something, where you’ll be able to listen to songs even without earpods!
Director: VV Vinayak
There’s no doubt that Shriya Saran looks like a kid in front of stars such as Chiranjeevi and Rajinikanth, but she has starred alongside them in Telugu and Tamil films, respectively, and basked in the successes of those movies. Tagore is one of them.
Director: Srinu Vaitla
If all the comedy scenes from this movie are compiled, they’ll probably run up to an hour. The story is wafer-thin and you may even call it stupid, but that’s what works for the film. If you’re having a bad day, you can watch the train segment where most of the primary cast members travel together and make fun of each other.
Oh My Friend (2011)
Director: Venu Sri Ram
When this film hit theatres, it didn’t take off immediately. But it was welcomed by the college-goers of that period. Chandu (Siddharth) and Siri (Shruti Haasan) quickly became the nicknames of many friends.
Priyuralu Pilichindi (2000, Dubbed)
Director: Rajiv Menon
The Tamil original Kandukondain Kandukondain recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and many film-buffs re-watched it just to catch the portion where Ajith and Tabu throw caution to the wind and act as bewitched teenagers.
Roja (1992, Dubbed)
Director: Mani Ratnam
Roja will go down in the history of Indian cinema as the movie that introduced AR Rahman to the world. Ah, what an album it is! It has been 28 years, but the tunes are still so fresh.
Director: Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao
Suryavamsam, which was first made in Tamil, has been remade in around half a dozen languages. Isn’t that an achievement? Remakes, more often than not, crumble under the pressure of the original, but this is a unique product wherein its special ingredient has remained undiluted.
April 1 Vidudala (1991)
A classic comedy where the hero (Rajendra Prasad) is told by the heroine (Shobana) to not utter even a single lie for a month. Although it sounds ridiculous and uncomplicated, becoming Satya Harishchandra is not an easy task.
Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu (1996)
Director: EVV Satyanarayana
The 1990s were full of Telugu films where two leading ladies pulled the leading man in different directions. The hero would love them both equally, but would eventually settle down with only one. But there were exceptions, and Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu was one of them.
Director: Puri Jagannadh
Prabhas, who plays a runaway, stars as a Rajinikanth fan in this crazy drama. Also, this is his third film with Trisha after Varsham and Pournami. It’s been more than 10 years since their last collaboration. Will they star together again?
Gharana Mogudu (1992)
Director: K Raghavendra Rao
‘Pandu Pandu Pandu’ became an anthem after this film’s release. And even today, ‘Bangaru Kodi Petta’ attracts new listeners and inspires people to shake their legs à la Chiranjeevi.
36 Vayasulo (2015, Dubbed)
Director: Rosshan Andrrews
Jyothika’s comeback film 36 Vayadhinile (the Tamil original), is a paean to unsung women. It’s not just a drama about the things that women can achieve. It goes beyond that and offers a glimpse into how men ridicule women who dare to dream.
Director: K Viswanath
Though this film was made in the 80s, the dowry system is still a relevant topic in India. It’s a shame that we’ve not moved forward much. Subhalekha, headlined by Chiranjeevi and Sujatha, is an important film, for it speaks against patriarchy.
Director: A Kodandarami Reddy
If Subhalekha was made with an intention to highlight the ills of dowry, Challenge was made to highlight how stupid and arrogant some businessmen are in the country. This Chiranjeevi, Suhasini, and Vijayashanti-starrer has many whistle-worthy scenes.