2015 has been an unforgettable year for Tollywood. With 2000 crores in profits, Telugu cinema is behind only Bollywood. Baahubali: The Beginning put the Telugu film industry on the global map, and it was arguably the most talked about Indian film of the year. But Telugu cinema had much more than the one Rajamouli magnum opus this year. Today, we list the most memorable Telugu films of 2015, in no particular order.
Kanche (Fence) : Probably the riskiest film in Tollywood this year, Kanche was set in the 1940s with World War II as its backdrop. Through the film’s theme, director Krish wanted ‘to break the fences that society has erected between people, on [the] basis of their caste, creed, etc.’ Six-foot-four Varun Tej gave an authentic and believable performance as Dhupathi Hari Babu. A soldier who fights against the caste system in his village. As with his previous films, Krish gave us a film with a strong social message, in a completely new context.
Temper : After box office flops throughout 2013 and 2014, Temper was Jr. NTR’s comeback film. Temper had many new things to offer, and first on that list was a brand new, lean looking NTR. He played a corrupt cop who reforms into the good cop. All for the woman he loves. Of course, then he has to deal with his corrupt past. The film was a huge success, and NTR fans loved watching their hero bounce back.
Yevade Subramanyam : A trip to the Himalayas. An escape from the mechanical, corporate life. A search for one’s true identity. These were all unexplored themes in Tollywood. Until this film came along. Nani played a greedy investment banker (Subramanyam), who is forced to go on a trip that changes his life. This was a near-perfect performance, and became a turning point in his career. Debutante director Nag Ashwin’s Yevade Subramanyam is a breath of fresh air. Like the Himalayan air it captures so beautifully.
Srimanthudu : A film where ‘prince’ Mahesh Babu turned into the people’s prince. Srimanthudu is the story of Harsha. The heir to a wealthy family, Harsha is uninterested in the family business. He adopts a village and takes charge of their welfare. The film’s motto is: look beyond wealth, and find joy in someone else’s smile. The concept has been done to death in Tollywood, but Mahesh Babu’s charisma and the characterisation of the other actors carried the film. It was the second biggest Tollywood film, after Baahubali.
Baahubali : Speaking of which, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Baahubali towered over all other films this year. Critically, as well as commercially. SS Rajamouli’s soaring epic didn’t just break Tollywood records, it broke records for Indian cinema in general. Full credit to Rajamouli’s vision, and his ability to turn an oft-used story into visual splendor. Baahubali: the Conclusion is easily one of the most anticipated film of 2016.
Malli Malli Idhi Raani Roju : In an age where films are all about fast-paced screenplays, MMIRR took a step back. It unfolded in a relaxed and leisurely manner. Hindu-Muslim romance is an evergreen theme in Indian cinema. But the film handled the subject uniquely. Backed by brilliant performances from Sharwanand and Nithya Menen, the film was sheer poetry – in dialogues, songs, and visuals. It was a class apart from all other releases this year.
Bhale Bhale Magadivoy : Director Maruthi Dasari is better known for his adult comedies, and surprised everyone with this completely clean entertainer. The film relied on confusion to fuel comedy. Lead actor Nani played Lucky, a youngster who suffers from memory loss. He tries to keep his ‘shortcomings’ hidden, especially from his girlfriend (Lavanya Tripathi). Nani carried the film on his shoulders with sheer comic timing. The film was one of the most profitable in terms of ROI this year.
Pataas : The surprise hit of the year turned out to be Pataas, starring Kalyan Ram. The actor, who hasn’t appeared on screen in a few years, returned to celluloid with this film, directed by debutant Anil Ravipudi’s film. Made on the typical Tollywood cop film template, the film was entertaining, with some great comic scenes.
Kumari 21F : Directed by debutante Surya Pratap, Kumari 21F was a love story, with a difference. Lead character Kumari lives life on her own terms. She is perhaps one of the most modern screen women Tollywood has yet seen. She smokes, drinks, and parties, and surprisingly, nobody in the film shames her for any of this. Hebah Patel and Raj Tarun impressed audiences with their performances, and the film rewrote the rules of romance in the industry.
Bhale Manchi Roju : The last release of the year finds its place in our list, thanks to its clever screenplay. The trailer managed to hype up the film, and the film managed to live up to that hype. Directed by 26-year old Sriram Aditya, this comic thriller is packed with clever twists and classy comedy. Cinematographer Shamdat’s work was widely praised. The film proved that a good script stands far above stars, punches, and the ‘necessary’ masala.