BV Nandini Reddy is among the country’s best directors; her films have consistently been great. She was back with Oh! Baby in 2019. This is an official Telugu remake of the 2014 Korean film Miss Granny. Nandini made her directorial debut with the 2011 Nithya Menen, Nani starrer Ala Modalaindi, a superb rom-com and has since aced the genre. In Oh! Baby she brings together a fun script with amazing performers. Lakshmi is relatable and perfect as the bitter older woman with disappointments while Samantha breathes life on to the screen with her easy, breezy presence.
Oh! Baby is streaming on Netflix.
Lost in the din of the endless controversies around Arjun Reddy and its endless remakes in languages across the country, is this little gem of a Vijay Deverakonda starrer. For every Parasuram with Geetha Govindam (with an abominable plot), there’s a Bharat Kamma with Dear Comrade. It is perhaps the country’s first post #MeToo movie that sides with the woman. Bonus? The superb romance track between Lilly (Rashmika Mandanna) and Bobby (Vijay Deverakonda) and Justin Prabhakaran’s sublime score. Dear Comrade also had perhaps the best soundtrack of 2019.
Dear Comrade is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya
Directed by Swaroop RSJ and written by him along with the lead, Naveen Polishetty, this is a remarkable film that does not take its main man seriously. That in itself is refreshing. Naveen’s ‘Agent’ is unshackled from the burdens of the usual ‘hero’ and he is so much better off thanks to it. A hilarious scene (that was deleted) features Shruti Sharma singing (entirely off key), the title song of one of my favourite TV serials from way back. Lady Detective.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya is streaming on Amazon Prime.
This thriller comedy takes a small, simple plot, and turns it into an exciting, competent film. Almost like Priyadarshan’s old comedies in Malayalam (before they were remade for/in Bollywood). Written and directed by Vivek Athreya it stars Sree Vishnu, Nivetha Thomas, Nivetha Pethuraj, Satyadev Kancharana, Priyadarshi Pullikonda, and Rahul Ramakrishna. Two seemingly disparate track and fates converge and make for a crackling thriller, while the laughs keep things light. There’s some kidnapping, accidents, a runaway couple, and more.
Brochevarevarura is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Meeku Mathrame Chepta
A pretty good film that didn’t get as much attention as it deserved last year. The film marked Vijay Deverakonda’s entry into production and he made an unorthodox choice for the ‘hero’ — it was his first big film Pelli Choopulu’s director, Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam. The hero is about to get married and a questionable video gets leaked online. He must find the man behind the leak and stop before things go out of hand. The (double) conceit is fun, and most importantly harmless fun. Written and directed by Shammeer Sultan, it is very self-aware and makes good use of this awareness to keep things from ever getting cringy. The supporting cast too is very efficient and the film never really seems to lose pace.
Meeku Maathrame Cheptha is streaming on Hotstar.
After his superb debut Chi La Sow, Rahul Ravindran surprised everyone with his second film’s announcement. It was a sequel to a 2002 Nagarjuna starrer Manmanthudu. Rahul really shows you how you can show a wayward casanova in Telugu cinema without making him come across as a creep and Nagarjuna truly aces in Manmathudu 2. Most importantly no one in the film is in denial about the difference in age between the leads. This might also be Rakul Preet’s breakout role. She’s superb every time she’s on-screen. Vennela Kishore is, of course, the real hero. He’s simply hilarious. The supporting cast of Lakshmi, Devadarshini and Jhansi are all perfection.
Manmathudu 2 is streaming on Netflix.