2020 Telugu End of the Year Review
Hero of the Year- Stylish Star Allu Arjun for Ala Vaikunthapurramlo: This award is for the most commercially successful actor of the year. After delivering two below average movies in terms of quality and above average and big flop in DJ and Naa Peru Surya financially, Allu Arjun didn't have a release for 1.5 years and returned with Trivikram in AVPL. After being gone so long, one would expect jitters but what does Allu Arjun do? He carried the movie on his back, delivered one of his career best performances, danced and fought with so much swag and came roaring back with an Industry Hit with AVPL. He was simply sensational in the movie which grossed 162-163 share which is a Non-Baahubali All Time Record and is also the Highest Grossing Non Baahubali Telugu movie in USA with $3.63 million. This proves it's not about how many hits you can take, but how you respond when you get back up and Allu Arjun delivered big time and joined the list of Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan, and Prabhas as the Top actors who have scored an industry hit.
Special Mention - Superstar Mahesh Babu for Sarileru Neekevarru: There's been a lot of criticism about Mahesh Babu recently from haters and Gen Z people that Mahesh Babu can't act and that he only does ooru movies. Since the success of Srimanthudu, it is true that Mahesh has only been doing subtle acting and fans and the general audience alike wanted to see him in a new role. Anil Ravipudi who unleashed Venkatesh after a gap of 15 years managed to extract a similiar performance from Mahesh Babu in Sarileru Neekevvaru. Even as a die hard fan of Mahesh, I have to admit that Sarileru was inferior to AVPL in every way yet with literally zero content, Mahesh Babu put up the fight of a lifetime and lost gracefully by taking on a juggernaut in AVPL with Allu Arjun's comeback, Trivikram's craze in USA, and the masterpiece album by Thaman and made the movie gross 132 share and 250 crores worldwide, making the film enter the all time top 5 highest grossing Telugu movies and a respectable 2.3 mil in USA with 2.75 reviews and not so encouraging talk. For any of the haters, hate to break it to you, but on any given day and clash, the Superstar still has it at the ripe age of 45 and isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Best Actor - Suhas for Colour Photo: Any Telugu content consumer knows Suhas from all the fantastic Chaibisket videos. Rencetly he made a mark as a supporting actor in movies like Majili, Dear Comrade, and Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya. He finally got the chance to showcase his talents and he was simply OUTSTANDING as the lead in Colour Photo. The film which talked about a very relatable concept in colorism and discrimination, Suhas's plight and role was very relatable for most guys in Andhra who are born dark. His acting in the pivotal pre climax scene where his calf gets murdered is a testament to his acting abilities. He was amazing in that scene. From portraying sadness to convincing us that he is Jayakrishna with his fantastic comic timing and charm, Suhas not made his team proud but made the entire industry proud with his excellent performance in the movie. Can't wait to see what he does next and what other lead roles the industry will offer him. A true natural acting talent. Guys like this are hard to come around.
Special Mention: Allu Arjun for Ala Vaikunthapurramlo - As mentioned before, Allu Arjun roared back with an all around performance that was simply sensational. The middle class portrayal, swag in fights, smooth and simple dance moves, and most of all the incredible improvement in emotional scenes, Allu Arjun has gone from unwatchable in Gangotri to scintillatingly entertaining in AVPL and has come a very long way and worked very hard to establish himself as a superstar in Telugu cinema.
Best Supporting Actor (Male) : Murali Sharma for Ala Vaikunthapurramlo - Mahesh Babu fans and most people remember Murali Sharma as the psychotic Kaiser in Athidhi in 2007 but it wasn't Yevadu in 2014 when the star character actor starting making his presence felt and even dubbed for himself despite living in North India most of his life. Cut to 2020, and it's hard to imagine a Telugu movie without him and Rao Ramesh. We all know Murali Sharma as a supporting actor who usually does father roles but Trivikram gave him the role of a lifetime and he delivered his career best performance as the cunning Valmiki. The expressions, body language, dialogue delivery and ability to portray a character with grey shades with perfection made this the easiest choice of this review . Murali Sharma garu, take a bow sir. You simply blew us away with your performance and looking forward to many more.
Best Supporting Actress (Female): Divya Sripada for Colour Photo - This is actually the hardest category considering there were 0 good female supporting performances this year but Divya Sripada managed to make her presence felt in Colour Photo as Deepu's friend and aide throughout the movie. Her natural screen presence and her being a Telugu girl gives her an already added advantage over many people in the industry. Her performance in the scene when she's talking to Bala Yesu (Viva Harsha) and her expressions are on point. We will definitely be seeing a lot more of her in the coming months for sure.
Best Actress: Anuskha Shetty for Nishabdam - Given the fact Anushka learned sign language just for the movie and carried this humongous ROD on her shoulders with her performance and sincerity as always, I think she had the best performance of the year. Her expressions when she was scared or happy throughout the movie were on full display and the Superstar did a tremendous job in a challenging role. If not for her presence, the movie would have been 10x worse than it already is.
Special Mention: Chandini Chowdary for Colour Photo - The upcoming actress was superb in Colour Photo which gave her scope for an all around performance and she was impressive in all the emotional scenes. It's one thing to cry and another thing to do it convincingly and Chandini's acting along with the story really hit our emotional chords and made us feel for Deepu. Always nice to see a Telugu girl get a great opportunity and absolutely crush it on screen. Hoping we can see more roles and performances like this from her in the future.
Best Film: Colour Photo - Telugu cinema still doesn't understand the power of OTT and what it can do and only ships RODS over to the streaming platforms and tortures their audience. AHA started by Allu Aravind slowly gained some momentum and is still struggling to find it's feet and acquired Colour Photo. It's safe to say they won't have a better movie on their platform for a long time. I wouldn't say this movie is a masterpiece but it was definitely very good for it's timely theme and great direction from Sandeep Raj. It's one thing to make a bunch of short films on Youtube channel for fun and another thing to make a feature length film and succeed. Sandeep Raj understands filmmaking at it's highest level and passed out with flying colors no pun intended in Colour Photo. The film tells the story of a poor dark man Jayakrishna played by Suhas who falls in love with Deepthi but her brother played by Sunil won't accept him because he's too dark and because of his caste. Besides the tragic ending, the movie will be remembered for it's excellent concept, unique direction, superb music and BGM by Kaala Bhairava, and the outstanding performances of Suhas, Sunil, and Chandini Chowdary. Oh and special mention to Viva Harsha. The famous comedian was very impressive in a natural role with his comedy timing on full display and makes you laugh throughout the movie.
Best Director: Sandeep Raj for Colour Photo - I know the Telugu award shows are biased and only care about commercial directors and commercial success which means Trivikram or Anil Ravipudi will win Best Director next year but Sandeep Raj beat them by miles. The director is best known for starting the Telugu content channel Chaibisket with their unique and entertaining short films. It proves that a bunch of passionate people can get together and make a good movie. Most of the cast are the people who started on Chaibisket such as Suhas, Viva Harsha, Divya Sripada, and Sri Divya and most of the technical crew who worked on his short films worked behind the scenes as well. An impressive debut barring a few hiccups here and there, hoping that we get to see more and more unique movies from him in the future.
Biggest Surprise: Palasa 1987 - This movie is basically a poor man's Rangasthalam but director Karuna Kumar's conviction and direction to tell a story about caste discrimination was impressive and garnered the movie some solid viewings on Amazon Prime after it's release. The acting, dialogues and production design were superb all around. The slow pace, routine story and similarity to Rangasthalam were definitely the drawbacks but it was encouraging to see such a raw attempt in Telugu cinema after a gap. Karuna Kumar's next is Sridevi Soda Centre with Sudheer Babu playing an electrician in a village and has Music by Mani Sharma. Wishing him all the best for the future.
Worst Actor: Michael Madsen for Nishabdam - For such a popular actor in Quentin Tarantinto's movies, I find it quite difficult and disheartening to write this but I don't know what the hell the makers and Micheal Madsen were thinking when the narrated him the script for this movie. His own voice is dubbed, mind you the ONLY LANGUAGE HE SPEAKS IN ENGLISH. I mean it's seriously unbelievable. His dialogues and his acting along with everything else in the movie only adds to the torture that it was. He only has one dialogues which is F*** the entire movie and his performance in the climax was hysterical. He seems so serious and what not but in the end everybody who acted in the movie was a clown.
Worst Actress: Keerthy Suresh for Penguin and Miss India - You ever seen a National Award winning actress deliver two back to back Kankara rods? Well if there's a record for that then Keerthy Suresh is definitely the first actress to ever do it. Two unbelievably idiotic and torturous movies in Penguin and Miss India were an assault on the audiences senses as people forget about the movies as quickly as Keerthy's performances. Given the fact that she's in every movie now, it will interesting to see if she can get rid of the Iron Leg tag now. Feeling wary for Sarkaru Vaari Paata now. Bad luck. Oh and if Good Luck Sakhi releases on OTT, you can be sure it will be a hatrrick of rods.
Special Mention: Rashmika, Anjali, and Shalini Pandey - Rashmika was unbearable in Sarileru as the most annoying female character in recent times. Anil Ravipudi seems to create the least memorable ones including Honey from F2. Sir meeku ardham avuthunda? Anjali gives voice over narration for no reason in Nishabdam while running along the beach and her role was absolutely useless. Shalini Pandey was incredibly irritating as Anushka's friend in Nishabdam. She literally runs into the backyard of a house and says Look at this place! I like this place!. Like we don't care. After Arjun Reddy, she has failed to make a mark in every Telugu movie she's been in.
Worst Movie: World Famous Lover and Nishabdam - Vijay Deverakonda's career is hanging by a thread because he's always saying some girls name for no reason and World Famous Lover proved his Arjun Reddy formula and hangover is outdated. The movie was a colossal dissapointment in every regard and was a disaster at the box office. Nishabdam on the other hand was Anushka's first release since Baahubali but made people scratch their head as to how she accepted such a ridiculous movie in the first place. Movie was complete torture and proved that Amazon Prime has 0 judgement ability when it comes to Telugu movies and all they care about is money and subscriptions.
Special Mention: Disco Raja, Penguin, V, and Entha Manchivaadivuraa - All were among the biggest rods this year.
Worst Director: RGV for Thriller, Naked, Climax, and Powerstar - Keep it short and simple. Varma's mojo has been long gone. He just wants to troll and trigger people. Insane how he made 4 movies during a lockdown and people can't even release one film in the meantime. Outdated, overhyped and simply embarassing to say the least. One can only wonder when RGV will stop making movies because he's well past his expiry date. Perhaps his Twitter is the only thing keeping him from completely going to the shed.
Special Mention: Hemanth Madhukar for Nishabdam and Narendra Nath for Miss India: Nobody even heard of this dude before Nishabdam and after the release everybody will remember him as the guy who delivered a sweet ROD to Anushka and her fans and the entire Telugu audience with this absolute joke of a movie. He and Kona Venkat should be ashamed of themselves for taking the audience for granted with such a stupid and absurd story with 0 sense. To quote Angry Rantman "there was no passion, there was no aggression, there was absolutely nothing in this ******* film, absolutely nothing. Narendra Nath I hope you never get another offer for thinking dubbing a person's voice with Siri was a good idea. An assault on your senses and taking the audience for granted. And shame on Mahesh S Koneru for producing such trash. Embarassing altogether.
Best Music Director: Thaman S for Ala Vaikunthapurramlo, Krack, Vakeel Saab, Solo Brathuku So Better, Miss India, and Disco Raja - We all know the reason why Thaman got this is for the all time classic album that AVPL has become and will go onto become. Literally every single song was a sensation and the blockbuster album was half of the reason for the film's humongous success. We will be listening to Samajavaragamana, Raamulo Ramulo, and Butta Bomma for the rest of eternity. In other albums, Disco Raja had a fantastic album and Maguva Maguva from Vakeel Saab was exceptional along with the albums for Solo Brathuku So Better and Krack.
Best Singer Male: Sid Sriram - The star singer has become a daily part of Telugu movies now with small films using him to garner hype and attention through his voice. Sid Sriram is basically 100 million views guaranteed and he's had two songs this year technically that garnered more than 200 million views in Samajavaragamana and Neeli Neeli Akasam. His other songs this year include Maguva Maguva, Hey Idi Nenana, Ee Maya Peremito, Manasa Manasa, Choosare Kallara, and Kalalu Chusina Kannuley. Sid Sriram might be overused but we never get tired of hearing his soothing voice.
Best Singer Female: Shreya Ghoshal - I can't really think of anyone else for this award since Shreya Ghoshal never disappoints. The legendary singer had 4 songs this year in Avuno Teliyadu, Vasthunnaa Vachesthunna, Kotthaga Kotthaga, and Katha Modalavake. As usual, she nailed every single out of the park.
Song of the Year - Butta Bomma from Ala Vaikunthapurramlo - The most watched Telugu song of ALL TIME, Butta Bomma is perhaps one of the only class songs that can give you goosebumps every time you watch it. Credit goes to Thaman S and Ramjogoyya Sastry for this masterpiece. A lifelong song guaranteed. And if you haven't listened to it then you've been living under a rock. Like seriously.
Recap: 2020 was a mostly negative year for Telugu cinema. Despite the highest grossing Sankranthi in Tollywood history with a combined gross of 500 crores from AVPL and Sarileru, the pandemic upended every single movie and release plan for the year. We can hope the vaccine comes thorugh quickly so we can get back to watching movies where they deserve to be watched. In theaters. Happy New Year and stay safe and healthy as always. Lastly here's a list of movies to look forward to in 2021 that we can (hopefully) watch.
Ranam Roudram Rudhiram aka RRR (SS Rajamouli- Jr NTR-Ram Charan-Alia Bhatt-Shreya Saran-Ajay Devgan-MM Keeravani) ****NOTE*** movie is not releasing on Jan 8th, 2021 anymore.
Sarkaru Vaari Paata (Mahesh Babu-Keerthy Suresh-Parasuram Petla-Thaman S- Madhie)
Radhe Shyam (Prabhas-Pooja Hegde-Radhakrishna Kumar- UV Creations - Justin Prabhakaran)
Salaar (Prabhas-Prashanth Neel-Ravi Basrur-Bhuvan Gowda-Hombale Films)
Pushpa (Allu Arjun-Rashmika-Sukumar-Devi Sri Prasad)
Tuck Jagadish (Nani-Aishwarya Rajesh-Ritu Verma-Shiva Nirvana-Thaman S)
Ante Sundaraniki (Nani-Nazriya Fahad-Vivek Athreya-Vivek Sagar)
Acharya (Megastar Chiranjeevi-Kajal Aggarwal-Ram Charan-Sonu Sood-Koratala Siva- Mani Sharma)
Shyam Singha Roy (Nani-Sai Pallavi-Krithi Shetty-Rahul Sankrityan-Mickey J Meyer)
Khiladi (Raviteja-Ramesh Varma-Devi Sri Prasad)
Krack (Raviteja-Shruthi Hassan-Samuthrikani-Gopichandh Malineni-Thaman S)
KGF Chapter 2 (Yash-Sanjay Dutt-Srinidhi Shetty-Raveena Tandon-Prakash Raj-Anantnag-Prashanth Neel-Ravi Basrur)
NTR 30 (Jr. NTR - Trivikram Srinivas - Haarika & Hassine Creations)