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2009: Best and Worst of Telugu Cinema

December 30, 2009

2009 will be a memorable year for Telugu Film Industry for various reasons. Two films, Arundhati and Magadheera rocked the box office and brought the much needed attention to the potential outreach of Telugu Cinema. However, we shouldn’t forget that more than 90% of the film released this year have failed to break even or make any impact on the box office. Over 130 films were released in Telugu (as on Dec 25th) (entire list of films released can be found @ Films in 2009). Apart from the direct Telugu releases, there were couple of films which took everyone by storm and raked in much more than most other Telugu films. They were, 2012 and Avatar. 2012 did tremendously well across the state and it grossed a total of Rs.20 crores, and Avatar is expected to gross over Rs.10 crores in AP.

Here’s my personal list of best and worst of Telugu cinema. Note that, Telugu films and Tamil films dubbed in Telugu have been considered in this list. The list has got nothing to do with the trade verdict of all these films and it’s my personal opinion only. I must also confess that I haven’t seen all the 130 films released this year and this selection is only from those films which I have seen. Only 5 films made it into the Best and worst lists. You are free to agree or disagree with my views.

Top 5 Telugu Films of 2009:

1. Magadheera/ Arundhati :  Magadheera and Arundhati in a way broke all conventions in terms of how much risk can be taken to make a film. While Magadheera was the most expensive film in Telugu film history (35 crores), Arundhati was made with a budget of Rs.13 crores, which is a LOT considering it was a female-oriented film. Both of the film relied heavily on visual effects and both of them were highly successful in raking in the moolah.  The most important thing is both these films pushed the usage of visual effects to a new high in Telugu cinema and have set a great example for others. Hence, they deserve a joint place for the best films of 2009.

Magadheera:– To be honest, the best part of the film was only that 20-25 minutes flashback sequence. Yet, it’s one of the best packaged entertainers to have released in Telugu. The film completed its 100 day run at box office, raked in more than Rs.120 crores and it has broken almost all possible records in Telugu Cinema. Rajamouli has proved once again that he can turn anything into one of the exciting things ever on silver screen. A big thumbs up to the entire team of Magadheera for writing a new chapter in Telugu Cinema History. Read my full review here.

Arundhati: The film gave a new lease of life to Anushka. Period. Anushka’s role as ‘Jeyjamma’ and her costumes were stunning. Full credit to Shyam Prasad Reddy (Producer) and Rahul Nambiar (Visual Effects) for turning this film into a high decibel visual extravaganza. The film does get into a repetitive mode in the second half, but the art direction, visual effects and Sonu Sood’s acting make sure that the film leaves a strong impression in the end. It won 10 Nandi Awards for the year 2008 and swept all the awards for technical excellence.

2. Kick: It once again reiterates that Ravi Teja is one of the best entertainers in the film industry today. The film almost reinvented Ileana who scorched the screen with her curves (!) in the film. The film was a full length entertainer and it did go overboard as far as storyline was concerned. But then, it’s so much fun watching Ravi Teja and Brahmanandam goofing around so much and for that the entire team of Kick deserves a big thumbs up! Read my full review here.

3. Baanam: It’s the surprise package of the year. The film had no stars, no big names attached to it. Nara Rohit made his debut into Telugu film industry and Vedika rendered a brilliant performance. Chaitanya Dantuluri’s debut film as a director is perhaps one of the best in recent times in terms of narration and consistency. The film stays within its boundaries and ‘Baanam’ was one of the very few films this year which was critically acclaimed for the performances and direction, cinematography. Mani Sharma’s music was also one of his best works till date. Read my full review here.

4. Anantapuram-1980: The Telugu version has been dubbed from a 2008 Tamil film ‘Subramanyapuram’ directed by Sasikumar. The Telugu version was released earlier this year and it’s perhaps one of the best films I have seen in recent few years in terms of storyline, characterisation, screenplay, direction, makeup and cinematography. The film narrates the story of 5 friends who live in a small town in the early 80’s and how their tryst with local politics lands them in trouble. This one is highly recommended for all those who appreciate realism in films. Read my full review here.

5. Prayanam: Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s version of ‘Prayanam’ combined the charm of conversations with quirky characterisation like no other film did this year. Brahmanandam, Tameem and Kalpika were the real stars in the film and Manchu Manoj, Payal Ghosh played the lead roles in the film. The entire film was shot inside KL International Airport and the narration kept me hooked for the entire two hours. Of course, it could have been better in terms of performances by lead actors but the dialogues and Yeleti’s direction overshadows all the other aspects. Read my full review here.

Worst 5 Telugu Films of 2009:

1. Saleem : The coveted crown for the worst telugu film of 2009 goes to Saleem. Directed by Y V S Chowdary, the film was a huge blunder and it crossed all limits of perversion featuring A-list stars. Read my full review here.

2. Jaganmohini: Namitha and Raja starred in this remake of a 1978 classic film with the same title. Unintentionally hilarious, the film seemed to have been trapped in a time capsule which refused to get out of its 1978 mould despite the 2009 locations. But then, I highly recommend this film to everyone who’s looking for a good laugh on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Read my full review here.

3. Padaharella Vayasu : Bhushan and Arya Vohra starred in this film which narrates the story of a girl who runs away from home to find a boyfriend and ‘enjoy’. It was lame excuse for showing off a writer’s crude imagination on screen. The film is so bad that you will hardly find its reviews on the internet. It’s the only film this year which I chose not to review despite being compelled to!

4. Mallana: Vikram and Shriya starrer ‘Mallana’ (Kanthasamy in Tamil) turned out to be a big bore. The film was heavily inspired from some B-grade script which Shankar must have written in his sleep. The only things good about the film was its trailer and it succeeded in luring me to the cinema hall. Even Shriya’s presence in the film couldn’t save it. A big thumbs down for Mallana….read my full review here.

5. Diary: A poorly directed film which failed to capture a decent script. The acting was an embarrassment and so was the screenplay/narration. I wonder why the director thought it was necessary to show off Shraddha Das’s legs (in that fashion) rather than concentrating more on the screenplay and narration. A big thumbs down for ‘Diary’. Read my full review here.

Note: As I said, I haven’t seen all the 130 films which were released this year and hence, I chose not to include Mental Krishna or some other films which truly deserve to be in this list. Moreover, I believe Posani Murali Krishna’s film has his own style of making films and if we don’t accept his eccentricity then it’s tough to classify his films without any bias!

Here are some films which didn’t make into the above two lists but nevertheless deserve a mention:

Thumbs Up: Veedokkade, Arya-2, Bendu Appa Rao, Akasha Mantha, Oy, Pravarakhyudu

Thumbs Down: Ride, Current, Billa, Rechipo.

Most Overrated films of the year: Ride/ Billa

Most Underrated film of the year: Arya-2

Eyesores of the year: Namitha, Hansika and Shweta Basu Prasad.

Surprise packages of the year: Kajal Agarwal (Magadheera, Arya-2) and Ileana (Kick)

Most promising new face: Rashmi Gautam (Current, Evaraina Epudaina)

Films that shouldn’t have been made: Saleem, Jaganmohini

2009 will also be memorable for another reason. Hemanthology came into existence and I am extremely grateful to all of you for the overwhelming support and response this year. 2010 promises to be an even more exciting year and all I can hope from God is patience to tolerate terrible films which our films industries churn out, an open mind to appreciate the good films, patience to blog consistently and a voice to express my opinion.

Yours Truly,


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13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 9:22 pm

    But why not include Aarya -2 in the list too? it deserves it IMO

  2. December 30, 2009 9:30 pm

    surprisingly Prayanam is at 5, but i would go for Akasha Mantha.
    all the other movies deserve there spot!


  3. Anvesh permalink
    December 30, 2009 11:05 pm

    Dude unfair man
    Arya 2 path breaking film macha

  4. Phani Kumar permalink
    December 31, 2009 2:22 am

    I read the post, felt happy as most of them coincided with my choices too, closed it fine! But after this, one of my friend was randomly playing “Mental krishna” which he got it from another. I too joined, thinking it would have some “point” may be inspite of its eccentricity(as you said).Tell you what, throughout the movie I was like “how did others(other than Posani) accepted to act in that ” , that too, the likes of Bhramanandam, MS, Raghu Babu and most importantly Sathya. We were waiting to get the gist or the point he wants to make and close it. He dragged us till the end, not allowing us to guess anything. Finally he discloses it as a surprise for the last 10 mins which makes no impact, and after all that torcher he gets us into for about 2hrs, seems pointless. I put my final words this way
    Mental++ 😛
    I watch films very selectively and may be because of that, for the first time I felt like not telling to anyone that I saw this film.
    It would have not missed the top spot, if only you have seen it 😛

  5. Pavan permalink
    December 31, 2009 1:43 pm

    Hemanth, this is a nice compilation.

    I would move Prayanam up in the list. It was good story telling

    Ananthapuram is a fantastic movie, but you may want to drop it as this was dubbed and not straight.

    We all need to go and tell RaviTeja that he should try new genres, i guess he is talented too 🙂

    Arya-2 should be added to the list.

    I am sure Rechipo and Saleem would fight it out for the last slot in any list


  6. Chaitanya permalink
    January 13, 2010 5:13 pm

    Offtopic: About your Adhurs review. 3.75 – u’ve got to be kidding. i expected better from you. what abt the stupid climax and the inane dialogues?

    • Hemanth permalink*
      January 13, 2010 5:57 pm

      @Chaitanya: Yes, the climax was over the top and dialogues inane! The film delivers what it sets out to achieve…it’s good fun and you have to gotta agree that the conversations between NTR and Brahmi are damn hilarious…would a weak climax dampen all the good work done in the first 2 hours of the film. I don’t think so!

      • sesha permalink
        January 18, 2010 12:01 pm, what happened to you? 3.75??? I prefered Adhurs just because u gave a 3.75. I swear I slept through most of the second half. Tell me what cliche was spared in the movie. It was such an arduous task to sit through that crap. A couple of Brahmi-NTR dialogues and a couple of songs are good but what else? Isn’t a movie more than that? Fights are horribly choreographed, too many villians and none of them possess an iota of brains, I don’t understand how the twins grew up in the same place without ever crossing their paths. Kona Venkat wrote a complex story????? I rest my case.
        I have to come up with a list of best and worst of your reviews for 2009 … just kidding … 🙂
        Best reviews:
        Diary ( I don’t think it is one of the worst of 2009. I feel it was intentionally made to look like a crappy B-movie. It was very funny and entertaining).
        Bad reviews:

        Keep up the good work. I think you are being too generous on most of the films.

  7. Naresh permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:15 pm

    Hey… Stumbld upon this pretty late I guess, but I think Arya2 was OVERrated. So much hype, n all v got was a confusd repitition of Arya. The mve was fine, but dint justify the hype expectations n especially the potential of the team.

  8. January 23, 2010 3:58 pm

    Glad to see Prayanam here, it’s also one of the best movie in telugu from 2009 🙂
    Well, Mallana (I watched tamil original, Kanthaswamy, I hate dubbing versions) is not a serious movie, just like for example another Vikram starrer, Anniyan (telugu Aparichithudu). Ahirya was good there, she done a big progress since Santhosham.
    Billa wasn’t that bad (as for Prabhas movie :P). I again didn’t take it serious so I enjoyed t a lot.
    Kick? Second half is a bit worst that first.
    I liked Banaam, music was fab (aah, Hemachandra^^) but the story could be done better.
    Your work in this podt reminds me a bit my Bottle Awards 😛

  9. Baba bangalee permalink
    July 8, 2010 1:48 pm

    Only Ballaya movies are good. rest are crap.

  10. Dheeraj permalink
    July 31, 2010 7:01 am

    Hey thats not Fair man……
    So many other films are also there. but why did you just chosen those five films only… i didn’t got your way of thinking about the films……..


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