It's been one hell of a year for Telugu movie fans. 2017 showed India what type of films Tollywood was capable of making and resulted in a countless number of blockbusters last year in the form of Baahubali 2, Arjun Reddy, Fidaa, Nenu Local and the list goes on and on. This year, Tollywood tried to capitalize on a record breaking year. It all started with Rangasthalam and lasted until Taxiwaala this year. Here are my choices for the end of the year Telugu movie awards
1) Hero of the Year- Vijay Deverakonda. This award is for the most successful actor of the calendar year. And in 2018, Vijay Deverakonda had a record number of releases in 5 this year, which is unheard of for the so called top heroes in the industry. After his magnanimous performance in Arjun Reddy, Vijay found a new wave of fame and recognition and stardom and the audience was eagerly waiting for his next release. And he delivered hits in the form of Mahanati and Taxiwaala. But the real show stopper was Geetha Govindam. The film, released with low expectations and a rocking album, proved to be one of the highest grossers of all time based on return on investments and grossed nearly 70 crores on a budget of just 15 crores which shows how his stardom has grown by leaps and bounds since 15. He did have his share of flops tho in the form of Ye Mantram Vesave and NOTA. But hey 3 out of 5, blockbusters isn't bad and caps a stunning year that cements Vijay Deverakonda's position as the future superstar of Telugu cinema and one of the industries top stars.
2) Best Actor- Ram Charan. Often criticized for his routine and monotonous acting in mass films and not attempting to come out of his comfort zone, 2018 saw a change in gear for Mega Powerstar Ram Charan Tej. He finally delivered a breakthrough performance and gave a spellbinding performance for the ages in Rangasthalam. It was a true slipper shot for fans and critics alike that Charan the star was dead and Charan the actor had finally arrived and it signaled a day that finally marked happy tears for Mega fans. Ram Charan was just sensational and you heard things like one-man show and Charan's performance is worth your ticket and the rest is bonus which is unheard of for an actor who hadn't had a memorable performance post Magadheera. He was simply charming, ferocious, and immensely likable as Chitti Babu and played his role to perfection as a partially deaf man. Allu Arjun in Naa Peru Surya or Jr. NTR in Aravinda Sametha come close for the award, but it's Ram Charan who should take the cake for Rangasthalam.
3) Best Actress- Keerthy Suresh. When they announced they were making the biopic on Savitri and Keerthy Suresh was announced as the lead, many eyebrows and questions were asked. For an actress who is usually out of shape and had been nothing more than a glam doll up until this point, the fact she was portraying the greatest Telugu actress of all time came a shock to many. But post the release of Mahanati, the only thing people couldn't stop talking about was how good Keerthy was as Savitri and the resemblance was too much to bear. Keerthy Suresh was just phenomenal and she breathed and lived the role of Savitri Ganesan. Aptly supported by Dulquer Salman, Keerthy SUresh captured the rise, fall, and pathos of Savitri so well and it was truly breathtaking to watch. It makes sense that she hasn't signed a Telugu film post Mahanati because chances are they aren't giving her a chance to showcase her acting prowess like she did in this film.
4) Best Film- Rangasthalam. Telugu cinema was going through a terrible run of big budget films miserably failing at the box office since 2016 dating back to Sardaar Gabbar Singh. But the films that followed made you question how people could keep producing such bad movies with big stars. Brahmotsavam followed, adding to the woes and Duvvada Jagganadham, Katamarayudu, Jai Lava Kusa, Spyder, and Agnythaavasi followed. Not only were these movies bad but they were all rods beyond belief. Telugu cinema was in dire need of saving and walah, Rangasthalam arrived and a classic was born. Powered by Ram Charan's flawless performance, Sukumar weaved his magic and delivered a film that will be remembered for the ages through his character development, action sequences, emotions, songs, and most importantly the village aspect set in the 1980's. The film was brilliantly executed and resonated with every Telugu individual from the richest city to every village. Sukumar delivered a true universal entertainer and sucked the audience into the world of Rangasthalam and left them with a haunting experience with a sensational climax twist. In the end, the film became the new Non-Baahubali industry hit and set a benchmark for the top heroes to follow for the coming years with a gross of 125 crores. Telugu commercial cinema at it's best.
Special mention: Mahanati. Rangasthalam was my personal choice but honestly either film could be given best film and it would be the correct choice
5) Best Director: Nag Ashwin. This is probably the toughest choice considering how good Rangasthalam was and it has Sukumar at the helm. But Mahanati was just a brilliant film and the attention to detail by Nag Ashwin was excellent. The sets, the mood, the emotions, and the research and casting all made Mahanti another classic in terms of biopics and Nag Ashwin's dedication and execution were visible throughout the movie. Not only that, but he got the most out of his technical term and delivered a gem of his film. The edge given here is that despite Mahanati only being his 2nd film, Nag Ashwin didn't succumb to the 2nd movie syndrome that most debut directors end up suffering from and delivered an outstanding movie that will also resonate from the hardcore Savitri fan to a kid born in the 2010's and growing up watching Telugu movies now.
Special Mention: Sukumar. Rangasthalam was superb in it's right and this award can go either way as well.
6) Best Supporting Actress: Anasuya. Anchor Anasuya is known for her stunning glamour and at times controversial behavior and comments but she blew everyone away with her stunning performance as Rangamma atha in Rangasthalam. Opting for a deglam look, Anasuya shocked everybody and pulled off her role effortlessly and was a crucial character in the overall plot to Rangasthalam. This is one performance she will cherish and here hoping that she chooses more roles like this one than damsels in distress or glamour based nonsense that people like her are often given in films.
7) Best Supporting Actor- Jagapathi Babu: Name another actor who can deliver two of the best performances of their career in the same year? We as a audience cannot say thank you enough to Boyapati Sreenu for putting Jagapthi Babu as the villain in Legend and giving him a new life and 2nd innings as a villain in Tollywood. Because we would have lost out on an incredible and amazing actor as a result. Jagapathi Babu was outstanding in Rangasthalam as the evil president but perhaps his career best role was as the blood-thirsty Basi Reddy in Aravinda Sametha. The way he goes about his actions and trying to kill Raghava is truly terrifying to watch and Jagapathi Babu once again proves why he's the best character actor in Telugu cinema with his performances this year. He also made an appearance in Goodachari this year
8) Biggest Surprise- RX100: Newcomers Karthikeya Gummakonda, Payal Rajput, and debutante Ajay Bhupathi marketed this film as the "next Arjun Reddy". The titular bike which plays a crucial role in the film, tells the shocking story of a man who was cheated by the woman who he thought loved him and ended up taking his life in the end. A very intense, raw, and gritty movie, this movie was inspired by true events in a village and it was shocking to learn that it actually happened to some one. The characters were brilliantly portrayed by Karthikeya and Payal Rajput will go places with her acting prowess and sensational glamour and looks. The film ended up becoming a blockbuster due to the intimate scenes and what not, but the film proved it had more than it offered in the trailer and actually had decent content.
Special mention- Goodachari: After Kshanam, Adivi Sesh's brilliant writing skills resulted in a Hollywood type action thriller with twists and turns and a riveting background score which made Goodachari a blockbuster and one of the best written movies of 2018.
9) Best Music- Devi Sri Prasad: After a successful 2017, DSP delivered some more good albums in the form of Rangasthalam and Bharat Ane Nenu. Though he ends the year pretty poorly with Vineya Vidheya Rama, DSP showed once again why he's the rockstar with an absolutely scintillating background score in Rangasthalam and a decent output in Bharat Ane Nenu.
Special Mention: Thaman S (Tholiprema, Aravinda Sametha), Gopi Sundar (Geetha Govindam), Mickey J Meyer (Mahanati)
10) Best Song- Peniviti (Aravinda Sametha): This was also a really difficult choice but the pathos and brilliant lyrics of Ramajagoyya Sastry proved that Thaman can craft musical gems that aren't dappulu based and Ramjo Sastry can actually write meaningful lyrics rather than catchy praasa. If only the picturization wasn't horrendous on screen, then the song would have had more of an impact. But still for the lyrics, composition, and Kaala Bhairava's heavenly voice, makes Peniviti my pick for song of the year
Special Mention: Inkem Inkem Inkem Kavale (Geetha Govindam), Yentha Sakkagunavve (Rangasthalam), Ninnila (Tholi Prema), The Song of Bharat (Bharat Ane Nenu), Sada Nannu (Mahanati)
11) Best Singer: Sid Sriram: All I can say is that 2018 was Sid Sriram mass from the 2nd half of 2018. Inkem Inkem, Vachindamma, Maate Vinadhuga, Egiregire, Undiporaadhey, and Emiaipoyave marked a fantastic year and all amazing songs from the heavenly voice of Sid Sriram.
12) Best Singer- Female: MM Manasi (Rangamma Mangamma): This song seemed to be immensely popular and one of the most popular songs of the year. Given the YouTube views with 132 million and the brilliant picturization, the song still proves to be a sensation across the twin Telugu states.
13) Worst Movie: Agnythaavasi: Complete utter disaster. Nonsensical, bullocks, shit, trash, insipid, horrendous, atrocious, borderline torture. Easily a top 5 worst movie ever made in contemporary Telugu movies. Any adjective that is synonymous with bad can be used to describe this movie
14) Worst Director: Trivikram Srinivas (Agnythaavasi)- You really question how the guy who made Athadu, Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, and Malliswari was capable of making such a piece of shit of a movie that it's mind blowing. Ridiculous scenes from start to finish, catfights between heroines, poking fun at sexual harassment in the workplace. riding a bike around an office with a belt in your mouth and getting a cop who was never there to begin with the to tell the flashback, this will go down as the worst star hero ever made in Telugu. It will truly take something special to top this for a long, long time.
Recap: Overall, 2018 was a good year for Telugu cinema and capitalized on a record breaking year but only had about 6 bonafide hits or blockbusters, which is a step down from last year. But the critical acclaim for the movies keep rising and here's hoping the industry can keep reaching newer and greater heights and keep pushing the envelope with out of the box concepts and good quality movies.
Signing off as always,
Teja Rao- Telugu movie fan
Lastly, here's of the most awaited films of 2019
1) Vineya Vidheya Rama (Ram Charan-Kiara Adavani-Boyapati Sreenu-Devi Sri Prasad)
2) F2 aka Fun & Frustration (Venkatesh-Varun Tej- Tamannah- Anil Ravipudi)
3) NTR Biopic part 1 and 2 (Nandamuri Balkarishna-Vidya Balan-Krish)
4) Maharshi (Mahesh Babu-Pooja Hegde-Allari Naresh-Vamsi Paidipally)
5) Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy- (Chiranjeevi-Nayantara-Amitabh Bachchan-Vijay Sethupathi-Sudeep- Surender Reddy)
6) Saaho (Prabhas- Shraddha Kapoor- Neil Nitin Mukesh- Sujeeth- UV Creations)
7) Dear Comrade (Vijay Deverakonda-Rashmika Mandanna- Bharat Kamma- Mythri Movie Makers)
8) Jersey (Nani- Gowtham Tinnaruri)
9) Nani24 (Nani-Vikram Kumar)
10) Petta (Superstar Rajinikanth-Trisha- Simran-Vijay Sethupathi-Nawazuddin Siddiqui- Karthik Subbaraj
Fabulous synopsis of Tollywood 2018