2022 Tollywood End of the Year Review
Heros of the Year - Jr. NTR and Ram Charan for RRR. Just the sheer potential of this mass combination was going to shake the box office and when Rajamouli announced RRR, the hype was taken to an all new level. After 5 long years of waiting, RRR finally hit the screens and Ram Charan and NTR equally carried the movie and delivered an industry hit in Telugu specifically, surpassing the Telugu share collections of Baahubali 2. The film's box office collections resurrected the audiences interest in watching big budget movies in theaters and allowed for the expansion and unprecedented reception in the West. Both heroes delivered their career best performances and used their star power to help propel the movie to the highest grossing movie this year.
Special Mention - Mahesh Babu for SVP: As a die hard fan it's high time that Superstar Mahesh Babu understands his stardom and range when delivering box office numbers. For a film as pathetic as SVP, to collect more than 100 crores share just cements Mahesh Babu's stardom and following within all sections of the audience. With content like this if he's easily crossing 100 crores, then just imagine what the range of the film will be if he makes something universally satisfying and entertaining. Only Rajamouli can save him now and its more than impressive with flop talk, Sarkaru Vaari Paata still managed to make that much money at the box office. It finished as average with 15 crore loss in all areas.
Best Actor - Ram Charan and NTR for RRR: Both superstars delivered insane and career best performances in the biggest film of the year. From Ram Charan's scintillating intro shot where he simply acts with his eyes to Tarak's INSANE efforts for Komaram Bheemudo, both heroes worked overtime and went above and beyond for the Rajamouli directorial. Both actors openly spoke about the hardships they had to face due to Rajamouli's crazy working style but when you see it on screen, it's 100% worth it. From Ram Charan's full character arc to Tarak's childlike innocence to brutal killing machine, it was a feast to watch both superstars in the beautiful bromance that unfolded on screen and was unlimited goosebumps from start to finish.
Special Mention - Siddhu Jonnalagada for DJ Tillu: After a lot of struggles and getting recognition with Krishna and His Leela, Siddhu Jonnalagada finally got his huge breakthrough with DJ Tillu where he simply owned the character with his effortless acting and hilarious comic timing and dialogue delivery. Despite a middling third and final act which completely derailed the film, Siddhu's acting as Tillu kept you engaged from start to finish with such an entertaining and erratic characterization where he simply lived the character. The stakes are amped for the sequel which unfortunately seems to be riddled with production problems.
Best Supporting Actor (Male) - Rana Daggubati for Bheemla Nayak: Rana Daggubati might have delivered his career best performance as Daniel Shekar. The character gives an actor so much to work and with an actor of Rana's caliber, he just effortlessly slipped into the character and owned it. The arrogance and negativity associated with the character is perfectly played and you always know somebody is doing a good job when you hate their character so much but respect the actor performing. With a stunning screen presence and bass voice, Rana managed to hold his own against Pawan Kalyan in the confrontation scenes and at times steals the scene with his performance. He was perfect foil for Bheemla Nayak and Rana absolutely killed it in the film. Please give this man more negative characters because he is so entertaining when they're done properly.
Best Supporting Actor (Female) - Ritika Nayak for Ashoka Vanamlo: Ritika Nayak stole the show as the REAL heroine of AVAK. She was simply superb as Vasuda and performed with such a liklable innocence in the character and gave a variety of facial expressions where she really owned the character. Her scenes with Vishwak Sen were a delight and she was easily the biggest reason the family drama felt like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. Her character and acting was a pure delight as the film progressed especially in the 2nd half.
Best Actress: Mrunal Thakur for Sita Ramam: A lot of speculation and doubts were cast when Mrunal Thakur, best known for her role in Super 30, was announced as Sita in Vyjayanthi Movies upcoming production. Pooja Hegde was the first choice for the role, but after watching the movie, it's safe to say Mrunal was BORN to play this role. In what can only be described as a heavenly beauty, she simply lived the character of Sita and her introduction shot in a moving train from the darkness into the light was UNLIMITED GOOSEBUMPS. Her performance in the emotional scenes was exceptional, perfectly capturing the grief and heartbreak Sita goes through and her chemistry with Dulquer was SCINTILLATING. She looked STUNNING in sarees and Sita will go down as one of the most iconic female characters as well one of the best Telugu debuts of all time. After the release, she was seen in tears crying with director Hanu, and after watching the climax, it's safe to say we had all the same emotions.
Best Film: RRR - After waiting for close to 5 years, the biggest multistarrer of modern Telugu cinema RRR finally saw the light of day after battling at least 4 release date changes and over 320 days of filming and the wait was worth it. The film was UNLIMITED GOOSEBUMPS from start to finish and all of the scenes in the 1st half were superbly executed. Despite a not so engaging and repetetive 2nd half, RRR was quite the theatrical experience making you go through all the emotions and proved SS Rajamouli is a master of his craft when it comes to visualizing shots and projecting larger than life stories on screen. Seeing Tarak and Ram Charan bond and on screen together was a feast for fans and the general audience alike and RRR showed Telugu cinema's might to all of India and is now making it's presence felt in the West with possible Oscar nominations on the way. Overall, RRR was THE theatrical experience of 2022 and the best film this year.
Best Director: SS Rajamouli for RRR: When I was young and growing up watching Telugu movies in elementary school and beyond, I always had this dream that one day Telugu cinema would be the number 1 film industry in India and possibly the world. A man named SS Rajamouli made a film called Simhadri and little did I know it would start the journey and assocation of a director who dreamed big and would take Telugu cinema to the greatest heights possible. It's been a pleasure to watch Rajamouli's rise from a serial director to arguably the greatest director in Telugu cinema history and while RRR was not his best work, it proved than an average film by Rajamouli's standards can get this much reception and adulation from not only the Telugu audience but from the world. The hero intro scenes, interval, and action sequences were all Rajamouli masterclass moments and some of the shots particularly the intro shot of Ram Charan in Rama's attire lives in my head rent free. The moment has finally arrived and Rajamouli is taking Tollywood to the world and in a few years, the entire world will know what Telugu cinema is capable of. Hopefully one day I can join that trend and work with him in a Hollywood movie. Who knows maybe it'll be a Marvel movie produced by Kevin Feige (wink wink).
Biggest Surprise: Sita Ramam - A Malalayam hero, North Indian heroine, Kannada supporting actress, Tamil music director and a Telugu director who's made back to back disasters. Nothing should work right? But what happened? Magic was created on screen and a CLASSIC WAS BORN. The beauty of the Telugu audience is that they support and encourage any film that has good content and it doesnt matter who the hero or heroine is, as long as the movie is engaging. Sita Ramam was a larger than life fairytale mounted on an unreal scale that simpy spun magic on the viewers and brought them into this period love story between Lieutenant Ram and Sita Mahalakshmi. Well written scripts with logic are non - existent in Telugu cinema now and good writing is no longer valued, but the writing in Sita Ramam was flawless where each and every plot pointed was explained and connected. From Dulquer, Mrunal, and Rashmika's performances to Hanu's screenplay and dorection to PS Vinod's MAGNIFICENT visuals to the STUNNING production design, CLASSIC album from Vishal Chandrashekar and overall production quality, Sita Ramam will remain a timeless classic for generations to come and was a HUGE BLOCKBUSTER. Kudos to Priyanka and Swapna Dutt for making such a beautiful film that touched everybody's heart.
Best Debut (Male): N/A - not enough data or evidence to support a solid pick here. So no choice made.
Best Debut (Female): Ritika Nayak for Ashoka Vanamlo (see above)
Worst Movie: Acharya - The picture you see here is Ram Charan representing the film Acharya and the audience (represented by the goon Charan is holding). Literally you stepped into the theater and it was smackdown on the audience from start to finish. In what should have been a simple revenge drama about a master and disciple battling evil businessmen hellbent on destorying tradition and beliefs for mining purposes turned into an boring and outdated action drama that had 0 highs. Koratala Siva's movies follow a template but unfortunatley it didn't work for Boss and Charan. Acharya was so bad from start to finish that it's hard to find even one reedemable quality in the 150 minute action drama. It proved once again that the Rajamouli movie curse stays true wherein a hero delivers their career biggest disaster after working with Rajamouli. The person who was probably the most affected was production designer Suresh Selvarajan who created a masterpiece set which was completely wasted due to the artificial writing and direction.
Special Mention: Sarkaru Vaari Paata was an embarassment from Mahesh Babu, Parasuram, and Mythri Movie Makers with such a stupid and illogical script with 0 entertainment value with the cheapest production values, Radhe Shyam was Rod Esam Audience meeda, and then Liger was just outrightly stupid. Vijay Deverakonda's stammering turned into unintentional comedy and despite his best effort, the movie just was so dumb from start to finish. Puri lost his mind and Ananya Panday's acting only added salt to the wound.
Worst Director: Radha Krishna Kumar claims he spent 20 years to make Radhe Shyam and took the core idea from director Chandrashekar Yeleti. Well it's very clear he didn't know wtf he was doing and it resulted in absolute joke of a film. Such a bad script with so many illogical loopholes and proved once again Prabhas and UV Creations can't afford a script, they just want to make money. Koratala Siva finally delivered his first disaster in what remains a controversial war of words between Chiranjeevi and him with the Megastar blaming him for the films failure while reports state that Chiru himself request script changes to the story to extend the length of Charan's character. Either way it was insanely boring. Lastly, Parasuram Petla's films are hit or miss and at one point he had a good grip on comedy specifically in Anjayaenulu. He finally made the jump to the big leagues and disappointed everybody and himself with such a badly written script in Sarkaru Vaari Paata. You know there's a problem when the most entertaining scenes in the movie is somebody getting slapped, somebody getting peed on, and a person putting his leg on his girlfriend when he sleeps every night.
Best Music Director: Vishal Chandrashekar for Sita Ramam- Originally from Chennai, Vishal's association with Hanu Raghavapudi started with Nani's Krishnagaadi Veera Prema Gadha and it continued with Padi Padi Leche Manasu and Sita Ramam. When looked at holistically, the Telugu songs of 2022 really didn't create too much impact except for Kaalavathi and Naatu Naatu. The albums this year were very disappointing but the music of Sita Ramam was so well done and was the classiest album of the year and easily the best album of the year. The songs and the background score specifically during Sita's introduction scene or when Sita comes to meet Ram at Vennela Kishore's house, the instrumentation and score was simply OUTSTANDING. The album features notable singers like SP Charan and Ramya Behara, but the best was the return of the legendary Hariharan and KS Chitra for the pre climax song Nena Nena written by the legendary Sirivennela Sitarama Sastry garu. When all things considered, Sita Ramam was the classiest and most well rounded album of the year.
Best Singer (Male): Sid Sriram - The star singer has become a daily part of Telugu movies with him having a song in almost every film this entire year. Kalavaathi has been on the charts for basically the entire year and become a viral sensation. Even though some may feel that his voice is repetetive and it's overused, Sid Sriram is clearly THE singer at the moment. His salary is 5 lakhs per song and he only records a song once a month if he really likes it. There's the saying if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Same goes for makers paying Sid Sriram to sing a song and getting free publicity for their mvoies. Now whether they're successful or not is another question, but it works in getting recognition from the public.
Best Singer (Female): N/A - Not enough data or anything worthy to mention here. Probably go with Shreya Ghoshal.
Song of the Year: Naatu Naatu from RRR - From the lyrical song itself, fans were waiting to see NTR and Ram Charan match steps on screen and Rajamouli kept adding hype to the fire by saying they had to do so many takes to actually make it like it they were both completely in sync. It's a known fact that the two superstars are among the best dancers in India and watch them dance together with such fervor and speed was UNLIMITED GOOSEBUMPS on screen. The situation in which the song comes is perfectly suited and a tight slap to racism during the Independence era. Sung beautifilly by Rahul Spiligunj and Kaala Bharaiava, Chandrabose's lyrics power the song from start to finish along with KK Senthil Kumar's brilliant taking. In the end, the song is so famous that it basically turned the famous TCL Chinese theater into what Rajamouli called "Ameerpet".
Recap: 2022 was a pretty awful year for Telugu cinema to be brutally honest. Other than RRR's worldwide success and recognition, there wasn't much to talk about with the majority of the star hero movies being extremely disappointing and huge disasters. DJ Tillu managed to become a huge blockbuster in the small budget range and Adivi Sesh scored a Pan India blockbuster with the biopic Major which was produced by Mahesh Babu in collaboration with Sony Pictures. Nani tested his luck with Ante Sundaraniki but the 3 hour runtime worked agaisnt the film and was a flop at the box office. Sarkaru Vaari Paata, Radhe Shyam, Acharya, F3, Liger, Thank You, The Warrior, Rama Rao on Duty, Khiladi, Krishna Vrinda Vihari, Virata Paravam, and Swathi Muthyam were all loss ventures and disasters aplenty. Kalyan Ram scored his career biggest hit with Bimbisara, an interesting time travel drama which scored well with the audiences and became a blockbuster. And finally Sita Ramam spun it's magic on the audience and become the fairy tale success story of 2022 and will remain a classic for years to come. Lastly, Adivi Sesh scored a rare double hattrick with HIT 2 to end the year and is looking forward to his projects targeted for Pan Indian audiences.
Let's take a look at some of the most awaited movies of 2023.
Hari Hara Veera Mallu
NTR30 (NTR - Koratala Siva - Anirudh)
Pushpa 2 The Rule (Allu Arjun-Rashmika- Fahadh Faasil -Sukumar-Devi Sri Prasad)
Dasara (Nani-Keerthy Suresh-Srikanth Odela (debutant)-Santosh Narayan)
Ram Charan 15 (Ram Charan - Shankar - Dil Raju)
Ram Charan 16
NTR 31 (NTR - Prashanth Neel)
Annnnndddddddd.......SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST! Happy tears never thought I would see the day where my favorite director would be making a return to TFI. Thank you Megastar Chiranjeevi garu for the opportunity to witness the magic once again.
JAI MEHER ANNA!