Today is the last day of 2017 as we eagerly await the clock striking 12 am to ring in the New Year of 2018. 2017 has been the greatest year for Telugu cinema in what I can remember in my 20 year and 8 month lifetime. Never have we seen so many blockbusters and super hits and such recognition for our movies in a calendar year. Hopefully the current actors, actresses, and directors keep pushing the boundaries and will eventually make the Telugu film industry the #1 industry in all of India. Here are my picks for all of the categories for 2017 in Telugu cinema
1) Hero of the Year: Vijay Deverakonda- Arjun Reddy was a path breaking film. It broke every Telugu cinema norm known to man and created a path and name for itself. But it was the man playing the character who stole the show. After a memorable and unforgettable speech at the audio launch full of curses and confidence, Vijay Deverakonda had arrived as Arjun Reddy. He was simply mind blowing and has emerged as the next superstar of Telugu cinema if he can capitalize on his films post Arjun Reddy. If there was an Oscar for Best Actor-Telugu, then I would no doubt give it to Vijay Deverakonda. He has become the youth icon and sensation this generation needed and he has surpasses in my opinion 85% of star sons with one film. Simply incredible and a man who possesses a kickass attitude in real life as well. It's almost next to impossible to dislike this man.
Special Mention: Prabhas- The Baahubali actor delovered the greatest performance of his career and was simply flawless as Amarendra Baahubali. If Arjun Reddy didn't release, Best Actor 2017 would have easily been his. Also special mention to Nani. The Natural star has now delivered 8 straight commercially successful films at the box office and is increasing his market with film to film. With MCA, he proved that not even bad reviews can affect his film and that he has 100% acceptance from all section of the audience. However, a select few are now getting jealous of his success maybe because he is now the biggest non-film background star we have witnessed since Chiranjeevi back in the 80's and 90's.
2) Best Actress: Anushka Shetty-Baahubali 2: Baahubali was a film where the cast was perfect, the technical output was outstanding, and the director was incredible. But above all, it was the actors who made the characters come alive with such conviction. After playing a worn out old lady in the Beginning, Anushka unleashed her ferocious side in an incredible and flawless performance as Devasena in Baahubali 2. She stole the show and even overshadowed the magnificent Ramya Krishna in some scenes. It was an absolutely breathtaking show from Sweety and hopefully 2018 has more success in store for her.
Special mention: Rakul Preet Singh: The top actress of Tollywood had a rather forgetful year where none of her films really working working except Ra Randoi Veduka Chuddam where she was really good as Brahmaramba and her acting skills were on full display. With Winner, Spyder, and Jaya Janaki Nayaka all biting the dust, the actress probably felt hard done with her selection of roles but she was absolutely ravishing in Winner. Despite that, she managed to have 5 releases this year and it really goes to show how much she works and the efforts she puts into every film. Hopefully she can bounce back and continue to improve and increase her popularity in 2018.
3) Best Film- Baahubali 2/Arjun Reddy: This was perhaps the most difficult category as we had 2 films that showed the power of Telugu cinema to the world. Baahubali 2 in my opinion is the greatest Telugu movie ever made because I had never seen a movie so emotionally charged, action packed, and entertaining and I had goosebumps from start to finish and forget about 100 crores, the film made 1700 crores and became the highest grossing film within India and showed the world what Telugu cinema was capable. And Arjun Reddy was pure art from Sandeep vanga. The film was albeit slow at times, but it was an incredibly well made film and showed that Telugu people can make films as a form of art rather than commercial entertainers with the intention of making money at the box office. Both films were blockbusters and are easily both the best films of 2017
4) Best Director: SS Rajamouli- I really don't have words to describe what Rajamouli did. Love him or hate him, this man had the passion to dream big and followed his heart and made a classic that we will cherish forveer in Baahubali 2. His way of thinking and the visualization of some scenes in the film are just simply incredible and it's easy to see why he is probably the top director in India at the moment. From Baahubali's introduction to the pulsating interval to Baahubali's death at the hands of Katappa to the climax scene where Sivudu kills Bhalla, from Hamsa Naava to Dandalayya, the film was just oustanding and you could see Rajamouli's stamp all over the film. SS Rajamouli, Jai hind and take a bow for you have made a film which will make telugu Cinema fans hang their collars high in the sky for a very long time.
Special Mention-Sandeep Reddy Vanga: If Vijay Deverakonda has attitude, then Sandeep Reddy Vanga has some big balls. This man had a story that no one believed in and most producers wanted to make it commercially viable which he declined and wanted to make it an art film. Instead, he took the help of his brother Pranay and decided to invest his blood, sweat and tears to make Arjun Reddy. It was originally supposed to star Sharwanand in the lead role but fell into Vijay Deverakonda's hands and the rest is history. He has delivered a cult classic and broke all of the conventional norms of Telugu movie filmmaking and made a bold statement. After delivering such a pathbreaking film, it will be interesting to see what he chooses to make next but it will surely not be as good or even close to how good Arjun Reddy is. Sandeep Reddy Vanga, hatsoff to you sir and thank you for giving us such a classic film.
5) Best Producer- Dil Raju: After delivering back to back blockbusters in Shatamanam Bhavati and Nenu Local to start the year, star producer Dil Raju was beraved with the sudden passing of his dear wife, Anitha. But he got back to work and came back with a vengeance and delivered 4 blockbusters this year. As much as he wants to claim that DJ and Raja the Great were hits, they were flops and above average films respectively and he has no evidence to prove that the film was a hit. Still a 4/6 success ratio is outstanding and producing 6 films in a calendar is no easy feat and kudos to Dil Raju. However, his story selection and judgement is taking a beating as he is opting for routine stories with entertainment based type of films instead of going for content movies like he was known for in the past. In 3018, it's said that he has 7 movies under production, so let's see how much longer he can keep up the success streak and whether his "golden hand" will continue in the coming year.
6) Best Music- MM Keeravani: The ace composer delivered a world class background score and gave excellent music for the biggest Telugu movie ever made. The Heyysa Samudra BGM gives goosebumps every time and the violin in the WKKB scene was superb.
7) Song of the Year: Dandalayya (Baahubali 2): No other song captured sadness and gave a sense of motivation or gossebumps in one songs. The composition was fabulous and Kalabhairava's vocal's added the necessary emotional quotient to the song. And the beat drop in the early stages of the stage make you feel like a king when listening to it.
8) Best Debut- Sai Pallavi (Fidaa)- Simply breathtaking and incredible. Find me another actress who can learn telugu, dub for herself in Telangana dialect and steal the show from a Mega hero all in the same movie. There is something about her that makes her attractive and innocent at the same time. Hopefully she stays in the industry for a very long time and continues to set the screen on fire with her amazing performances.
9) Biggest Disaster/Worst Movie- Nakshatram: Spyder was only bested by this piece of shit known as Nakshatram. Krishna Vamsi made GAV which was criticized for it's routine story and old school taking. He decided to make Nakshatram which was about drugs and cops and the film was a terrible mess and gave a headache. To Regina's awful acting to Tanish's unbearable physique and poor acting, to Pragya's overacting and Tulasi and Sivaji Raja's shouting, it also featured Sai Dharam Tej who was criminally wasted in a laughable cameo. All in all, Nakshtram is one of the worst Telugu movies ever made and should you ever decide to watch it, make sure you have some Zandu balm cause for sure you'll want to hit your head on a wall for watching such a terrible film. I feel bad for Sundeep Kishan as he was the only positive but one positive cannot outdo the million negatives of this pathetic film. Perhaps, Krishna Vamsi should stop making films and concentrate on spending more time with his family.
10) Worst Director- AR Murugadoss (Spyder)- After the debacle of Bhramotsavam, Mahesh Babu teamed up with AR Murugadoss for an action thriller called Spyder and we all thought it was going to be an amazing film in a Thupakki type of format or something like that. Instead we were served a porn loving heroine in Rakul, an IB officer who works in the basement of the IB office and illegally taps phones in Mahesh and a sadist villain who likes to watch people cry in SJ Surya. In a film so poorly made and full of illogical sequences, it was made on a budget of 120 crores which features graphics that looked like it was straight out of a serial or cartoon. They were so bad and the movie was even worse. We as Telugu cinema fans really wondered how Mahesh Babu could have accepted such a poor and illogical script. The director usually known for mass elevations served us no action sequences and put fights in song sequences and made a ridiculous villain flashback episode and a ladies episode that made you laugh at the film and was an assault on your senses. Perhaps Murugadoss should stick what he's best at doing. Which is giving Vijay blockbusters and disappointing the fans of every other actor like Surya or Mahesh Babu and not giving them elevations but giving them poorly executed VFX sequences and pathetic villain flashbacks. What a waste of time and resources. Also shutout to NVR cinemas for being among the worst production houses for promotions and updating Superstar fans. A colossal disappointment and Murugadoss has nowhere to hide with his insipid direction and script full of holes.
11) Recap: 2017 was an incredible year for Telugu cinema and besides the top two stars once again delivering disasters in Katamarayudu and Spyder respectively, there were so many movies that made money and also films that showed what Telugu cinema is capabale to the world in Baahubali 2 and Arjun Reddy. SS Rajamouli made us all proud and Vijay Deverakonda proved to be a superstar in the making. I saw 24 Telugu movies this year and only 5 were good- Arjun Reddy, Baahubali 2, Ghazi, Fidaa, and Ninnu Kori. The rest of the movies were terrible and simply just not good especially Nenu Local, DJ, Raja the Great, Mister, Winner, and Radha.
12) Here are some movies to look forward to in 2018:
1) Agnyathaavasi (Pawan Kalyan-Trivikram-Keerthy Suresh-Anu Emmanuel)
2) Gang (Suriya-Vignesh Sivan-Ramya Krishna-Keerthy Suresh)
3) Bharat Ane Nenu (Mahesh Babu-Koratala Siva-Kiara Advani)
4) 2.0 (Rajinikanth-Shankar- Akshay Kumar- Amy Jackson)
5) Naa Peru Surya (Allu Arjun- Vakkantham Vamsi- Nagababu-Anu Emmanuel)
6) Saaho (Prabhas-Sujeeth-Shraddha Kapoor-Neil Nitin Mukesh)
7) NTR-Trivikram Film
8) Mahesh25- Mahesh Babu. Vamshi Paidipally
9) Rangasthalam- (Ram Charan-Sukumar-Samantha-Aadhi Pinisetty)
10) AWE- Produced by Nani
11) Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (Chiranjeevi-Surender Reddy- Amitabh Bachchan-Vijay Sethupathi)