Jersey, Oh! Baby, Mallesham, Game Over, Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya: Best Telugu films of 2019 so far
Nani-Shraddha Srinath's sports drama Nani and Samantha Akkineni-starrer coming-of-age slice-of-life film Oh! Baby were among the top Telugu films of 2019 yet.
Telugu film industry might have witnessed two major hits — Maharshi and F2 — in 2019, so far. However, the stories which went on to make the most impact were the content-driven films. Right from Nani and Shraddha Srinath-starrer Jersey to Samantha Akkinei-starrer Oh! Baby, the best Telugu films of 2019 till now went on to make their mark thanks to their smart writing and exceptional performances by its lead cast. Below are seven such films.
In Jersey, Nani played the role of a middle-aged cricketer who gets back to the field when almost everyone writes him off. His wife (played by Shraddha Srinath) and others around him believe that he is making a big mistake because he is past his prime, but his zeal to continue being a hero for his son keeps his hope alive. Directed by Gautam Tinnanuri, Jersey is a tribute to the undying spirit of a sportsman and it proves that it is never too late to dream big in life. Nani, in particular, is exceptional in his role and the rest of the star cast, including Srinath and Sathyaraj, delivered wonderful performances. Anirudh Ravichandran’s rousing background score was another high point in the film.
In the past few months, the Telugu film audience have seen a different side of Samantha. The actress has only grown strength to strength with her ability to choose good scripts and surpass the expectations. In Nandini Reddy’s heartwarming film Oh! Baby, Samantha went a notch above to display the full spectrum of her acting prowess. Perhaps, she surprised herself too when you think about how well she pulled off the comic role. The film is a remake of Korean drama Miss Granny. It follows the journey of a 70-year-old woman who turns into her 24-year-old self to fulfill her dreams. Watching the film was no less than a therapeutic experience and it all boils down to how well Reddy, along with Samantha and Lakshmi, dig into what it means to have a family, and what we miss when our parents and grandparents pass away. The film struck an emotional chord with the audience and Samantha proved, yet again, that she has a lot more surprises up her sleeve.
Mallesham, directed by Raj Rachakonda, is a biopic of Padma Shri Chintakindi Mallesham, who invented the Asu machine. The film focuses on the struggles of the weavers’ community in and around Pochampally, and how the laborious task of weaving had turned into a bane for the women. Above all, the film is about one man’s love for his mother and other women like her, who bore the brunt of the weaving process. The authenticity of the setting and the detailing which went into creating the world of Mallesham got great reviews from the critics and the audience. Moreover, the performances by Priyadarshi, Ananya, and Jhansi made a strong impression to truly understand the struggle and passion with which Mallesham built the machine, which turned into a boon for the weavers community in Telangana. Mallesham is the indie film of the year so farin Telug. You will not look at the sari the same way ever again after getting an insight into how much the weavers and their families struggle to make one.
Ashwin Saravanan’s Tamil-Telugu bilingual film Game Over is unlike anything that’s come out in recent years. It is part-horror, part-thriller, but even this classification does not do justice to how well Ashwin and his co-writer Kavya imbibed several relevant themes and issues to show the life of the protagonist. The film narrates the story of Swapna, a game developer, who is fighting the ghosts of her past and how she takes inspiration from an unlikely source to gather courage to live. This is a story with is dealt with so much sensitivity that the segment which focuses on the home invasion pales in comparison to its more subtle themes, where the protagonist fights back against her deepest fears and the darkness in her life. Taapsee Pannu is terrific in her role as Swapna and the fact that she is wheelchair-bound for a good part of the narrative evokes a sense of respect about how she pulled off the role and made it so emotional.
Naga Chaitanya, Samantha and Divyansha Kaushik-starrer Majili, directed by Shiva Nirvana, is about love and all its forms. A major part of the story is set in the ‘90s in Vizag, where Poorna (Naga Chaitanya) aspires to become a cricketer. When he falls in love with Anshu (Divyansha), it changes the course of his life and career,. After a series of twists and turns, he ends up getting married to his neighbour Sravani (Samantha). Shiva Nirvana gave us a taste of different side of Vizag, which is obsessed with cricket, and how class divide takes its toll on a young couple. Naga Chaitanya is a revelation throughout this film, and his romantic track with Divyansha is beautifully written and skillfully dealt with. The biggest surprise was, however, Samantha herself who brought a lot of gravitas to her characterisation. Despite knowing that her husband is not in love with her, she stands up for him and never berates him for being stuck in time. The complex relationship which they share and how Poorna comes to terms with his past made Majili worth brooding over long after watching it.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya
Naveen Polishetty-starrer Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya, a detective drama set in Nellore, is the brand new addition to the new wave in Telugu cinema. Directed by Swaroop RSJ, the film is about a detective who goes on a wild goose chase to crack a case involving lot of unidentified dead bodies found near railway tracks. Although the film takes its time to get into its groove, Naveen’s relentless energy ensured that Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya turned into an engaging watch. By the time the film reveals all its secrets, it makes you think about the price one has to pay for their belief in superstitions. The screenplay, co-written by Naveen Polishetty and Swaroop, too was well-appreciated. The success of the film proved, once again, that content is truly the king and that it wull be richly rewarded even if it does not have any big stars in the cast.
Brochevaruevaru Ra is one of the funniest films of 2019, hands down. Written and directed by Vivek Athreya, the film narrates the story of three friends (played by Sree Vishnu, Rahul Ramakrishna, and Priyadarshi) and a girl (Nivetha Thomas) they befriend in college. When she confesses that she was molested by a family friend, it triggers a series of events which affects a lot more people around them. Part-comedy, part-thriller, part-heist drama, Brochevaruevaru Ra is a delicious melange of a lot of ‘cool’ things. It is commendable that Athreya addressed sexual harassment and how families respond to it as a major theme in the film in a sensitive manner. Vivek Sagar’s music is beautiful and the dialogues are witty. This was the surprise hit of the year and it is not without a reason.
Films to watch out for in 2019
Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor0-starrer Saaho is one of the biggest action films to come out of India. It is also the most expensive film made in Telugu film industry since the Baahubali series. So there is a lot riding on this film. Post the phenomenal success of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, Prabhas is back in an action-packed role. The film also has Shraddha Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Neil Nithin Mukesh in important roles. Directed by Sujeeth, the makers have been careful about not revealing anything about the story but we can be assured that it’ll be a roller-coaster ride. The film is slated for release on 30 August.
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy
Chiranjeevi, Nayanthara, Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Sethupathi, Anushka Shetty, Tamannaah...the star cast of Surender Reddy’s Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is impressive by any yardstick. The film is based on the life of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, a freedom fighter who fought against the British more than 170 years ago. Ram Charan has produced the film and after Saaho, this is the most expensive film of the year. The film will also mark Chiranjeevi’s comeback on silver screen after Khaidi No 150, which released almost two years ago.
Manmadhudu 2 is yet another reminder that Nagarjuna has stopped ageing and he can still make you believe in romance. Directed by Rahul Ravindran, the film has Nagarjuna and Rakul Preet in lead roles. The story revolves around Nagarjuna and his family’s efforts to see him get married. Lakshmi, Jhansi, and Vennela Kishore have played key roles in this film which is slated for release on 9 August.
After delivering a blockbuster with Geetha Govindam, Vijay Deverakonda and Rashmika Mandana are back once again in Bharat Kamma’s Dear Comrade. The film is an intense love story set in the backdrop of Kakinada. It revolves around how the two lead characters deal with their love and grief as life pulls them apart. Vijay brings plenty of rage, that has become synonymous with his name, to his character, but the major surprise in the film might very well be Rashmika in an emotional role. Dear Comrade will arrive in theatres on 26 July.
For the first time, Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya are coming together for a film, which both of them believe is a solid commercial entertainer. Directed by KS Ravindra, it also has Raashi Khanna and Payal Rajput in lead roles. Not much is known about the storyline, but the film has a couple of segments set in Jammu & Kashmir and a village in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Venky Mama is likely to release in October.
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