Here are some Telugu movies that I enjoyed. Think of it as my top Telugu movies list. I tend to enjoy movies that are have good attention to detail. I usually don’t enjoy movies that are too masaledar or too artsy or too violent. I’ll keep adding movies as I come across them. This list has fairly recent movies; maybe I’ll create another list for the older movies.
I’ve started adding ratings. What do the ratings mean? They give you a sense of how good a movie is relative to others. A movie with a higher rating is better than one with a lower rating, but this doesn’t tell you how much better.
- Anukokunda Oka Roju (5 stars). Low key, edge-of-the-seat suspense. Great, natural acting and tight direction make this one of my favourite Telugu movies. You can’t help connecting with Charmy’s character. Much, much better than its ridiculous Hindi remake Sunday. There’s not a thing wrong with this movie.
- Surya, s/o Krishnan (4.5 stars). A Telugu-dubbed version of the Tamil superhit Vaaranam Aayiram (1000 Elephants), this is a great, compelling movie. It could be called a tragedy, but is really a mix of various types of story. Despite some silly moments, it displays levels of intelligence that makes most Telugu films look like juvenile fantasies. A great deal of attention to detail went into this movie. Entertaining, reflective and tragic in equal measures.
- Godavari (4.5 stars).Heavily regional movie with the river as its theme. Kammula uses the scenery of the Godavari, local accents and the fresh cast to great effect. Great restrained performances from all of the actors.
- Morning Raaga (4 stars). Part-English, part-Telugu movie with a nice Andhra feel. Shabana Azmi impresses with her portrayal of a traditional middle-aged Telugu lady.
- Ashta Chamma (4 stars)Maybe I’m being too easy with the star ratings, but this was a smart comedy. With the exception of Colours Swathi (ya, that’s her Tollywood name), all the actors struck me as self-aware and composed. Swathi was good too; unfortunately her role demanded ditz. The movie is mostly carried on Srinivas Avasarala’s comedy skills, but there were a couple of really well-done song sequence (I usually hate songs in any Indian films), intelligent dialogue-based comedy, generally intelligent handling of the direction, good diction and also — another rare plus in a Telugu film — good production values.
- Vinayakudu (3.5 stars)This is a fun little entertainer with a unique theme: a (ahem) healthy-looking guy. I’ve got a couple of plot gripes with this story, but enjoyed the dialogue-based comedy, fresh in-character acting and the lack of violence.
- Ullasanga Utsahanga (3.5 stars)This movie is unevenly paced and stumbles in a lot of places in a lot of the usual ways, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The good thing is it lacks the unselfconscious naivete that many mainstream Telugu flicks have. The jokes in this movie are meant to be jokes. Another plus: good diction. (I’m really bugged by the language contamination by the crappy accents of non-Telugu actors; the actors are great but it’s better if their parts are dubbed.) It lacks any semblance of depth but is a watchable light-hearted romantic comedy.
- Happy Days (3.5 stars). This early effort by Sekhar Kammula is relevant and perfectly captures various aspects of a gang of students’ journey through four years in a typical college. The music in this film is fantastic. However, the acting and diction were disappointing in patches and it was good, not great.
- Gamyam (3.5 stars). Interesting story, nice portrayal of rural areas. One innovative dance sequence (the one with many hands). On the downside, the narrative isn’t as coherent as it could be and the movie’s moral science lesson is too in-your-face.
- Nuvvu Naaku Nacchav (3.5 stars). Venkatesh does comedy well. There’s nothing even the least bit innovative in this film, but it doesn’t have any cringe-inducers either.
- Aithe (3 stars). A so-so pick. It had a great story idea, but poor execution. The actors are not convincing at all, but what really bothered me was their absurd accents. Was the dialogue not spoken by Telugus?
- Bommarillu (3 stars). On the better side of so-so. Genelia’s character is a little too ditzy – or psycho, don’t know which. But is generally well-made.
- Anand (3 stars). Good, but not as good as Godavari. Sekhar Kammula, who directed both Godavari and Anand, seems to be shaping up to be a great director.
- Anasuya (1 star). Ok, I actually hated this movie. The direction was horrible, the acting was so-so, the pacing needed a lot of work, and it almost looked like it was over at the intermission. The reasons it’s in this list are: it was genuinely scary, it was good in patches, like the Aliens-inspired ending sequence, and it had a really great story. In the right director’s hands, this movie could have been great.