Top 15 South Indian Films | SPECIAL

2017 was a year of story-telling and relied heavily on the shoulders of writers and directors, a good sign indeed. It was an interesting year for me too because I started my blog, mentored by eminent film critic who hails from Chennai and even worked on a Super-hit Malayalam film. So writing and articulating this article makes me delighted and contented more than anything.

Unfortunately, a bit long article but couldn’t think to chop it down. May be I’m biased and most of the times, I’m – that’s because of the joy of watching perfectly rooted Cinema.

Leaving aside S S Rajamouli’s “Baahubali: The Conclusion”, the magnum opus which is undoubtedly the ultimate choice – here is a list of my favorite South Indian Films :

SPECIAL MENTION: S Durga (Malayalam)
Dir. Sanal Kumar Sashidharan | 19th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival

Year’s most controversial film was upheld was the Film Festivals across the globe but on the home grounds, it was treated as a shit. India has become Iran, it seems. Sanal Kumar Sashidharan’s Sexy Durga is an example of how Cinema can impact and kick the patriarchal society. Read the capsule review to get a sense of what the film is. [READ THE FULL REVIEW]

15. Veeram (Malayalam)
Dir. Jayaraj | Release: 24 February

I managed to watch the epic historical drama based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the 2016 IFFI (International Film Festival of India) which took place amidst grand reception and full packed show. Jayaraj’s fifth installment in the Navarasa series is high on art and a vibrant retelling of Kerala folktale. And the cherry on top was Kunal Kapoor’s phenomenal performance.

14. Solo (Tamil & Malayalam)
Dir. Bejoy Nambiar | Release: 5 October

Bejoy Nambiar is one of the finest directors I’ve come across whose films have amused me with experimentation. Dulquer Salmaan delivers dynamic performances in the four segments representing different avatars of Shiva – water, earth, fire, air. Though it features an extraordinary soundtrack, it’s a delightful film with a great concept gone haywire but if you’re in a mood to captivate yourself to the vision, then it works totally.

13. Sakhavu (Malayalam)
Dir. Sidhartha Siva | Release: 15 April

The film draws a good biographical sketch and an excellent lesson. It’s a terrific ensemble of film-making through an unforgettable cinematic journey. The film soaked deeply inside and made me live the life (such effective films and brilliant directors keeps my love for Cinema intact and alive). The Cinematography by George C Williams is aesthetically giving a soul to the visuals and look, the use of red tint makes you live the life of Comrade. Nivin Pauly is surely India’s most marvelous actor with his versatility. [READ FULL REVIEW]

12. Aval (Tamil, Telugu & Hindi)
Dir. Milind Rau | Release: 10 November

Here is a fine filmmaker’s debut which is technically sound and aesthetically (replace it with horrifying) satisfying. Watch some “Cinema” instead of just another Vikram Bhatt-style horror “Film”, this one deserves a crown. And you know what, horror is not my cup of tea but Milind Rau served me slowly boiled hand-picked tea in a heritage-valued cup. Most intriguing Indian Horror Film I’ve ever watched. [READ FULL REVIEW]

11. Ezra (Malayalam)
Dir. Jay K | Release: 10 February

Siddharth (Aval) and Prithviraj (Ezra) are two terrific actors who set the foot into the horror genre, a genre unexplored by mainstream actors. Jay K’s directorial debut which was Prithviraj’s first release of the year was an honest attempt at film-making and sending chills down the spine with accomplished technical aspects. No doubt the story was a mishmash of many horror films, but for a Malayalam Cinema it was a kind of different affair to venture into this genre. And Ezra, didn’t disappoint – striking Cinematography by Sujith Vaassudev and a haunting score which also featured the year’s mesmerizing song “Lailakame”. And a horror film collecting 30 CR proves the appeal.

10. Power Paandi (Tamil)
Dir. Dhanush | Release: 15 April

I was backpacking Down South when I discovered the film was playing near my stay, without wasting a moment I soaked myself into the fanfare of Dhanush’s directorial debut- it was an overwhelming experience. Writer Dhanush writes balanced scenes which are emotional as well as crowd pleasing. Veteran Actor Raj Kiran does a terrific act and is supported excellently by Revathy. Owing to the conventional story telling, Dhanush paves the way into hearts and the biggest soul is Sean Roldan’s electrifying soundtrack. “Power Paandi” is best example of a decent and clean debut.

09. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Malayalam)
Dir. Dileesh Pothan | Release: 30 June

Starring Fahadh Faasil, this is 2017’s unbelievably authentic, simple and honest film. With a balance of offbeat and mainstream elements, Director Dileesh Pothen keeps the film intact and rooted. While the treatment of Police Officers is handled realistically, it never goes overboard. And finally, I know the caliber of Fahadh Faasil- what a terrific actor!

08. Taramani (Tamil)
Dir. Ram | Release: 11 August

Though the film fails to achieve the kind it intended to be, it’s definitely works as a whole when put as a social commentary. The intriguing yet clumsy narrative makes the graph of the film inconsistent but never fails to impress with each scene. Andrea Jeremiah finally gets a lifetime role while Vasanth Ravi left an everlasting impact. Director-Writer Ram puts in male misogyny, ecology, living live, demonetization, ego, desire, globalization etc. themes into an interesting narrative and that’s the main part which I loved about the film, all in non-preachy way.

07. Meyaadha Maan (Tamil)
Dir. Rathna Kumar | Release: 18 October

This is what I wrote after watching the film: I guess the directors of Tamil films are infused with an unusual knack to script the worn out story in an interesting way without being cheesy. Rathna Kumar’s directorial is one such attempt to refill the old bottle with some amazing and fresh wine. It’s an endearing passionate film and not just for the sake of it. Even the supporting cast gets meatier roles and strong stories like the leads. Romance, Passion, Hate and above all Humor is infused subtly. Even the Screenplay is staged beautifully, each moment is savored by Murali’s character. The film takes you in without being clichéd and loud. It is a heart-warming and interesting film though issues can rest for the whole, one might feel positive throughout. Such kind of films live up my amusement for Tamil Cinema.

06. Theeran Adhigaram Ondru (Tamil)
Dir. H Vinoth | Release: 17 November

There’s a wave of raw brimming scenes engulfed honestly into the drama. H Vinoth’s directorial is one of the finest Police action thriller in the recent years. Even though it is an overlong film which travels throughout the reins of Rajasthan, it is a visceral experience. Actor Karthi knocks it down with his phenomenal performance as the Police Officer, watch out the scene when he is torn down in choosing a way at the pre-climax. Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (Brave – Chapter One) is a relentless and realistic film with elevating action sequences executed excellently. And the causal relationship between the good and the bad is terrifying, never seen such a perfect balance in a commercial film recently.

05. Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela (Malayalam)
Dir. Althaf Salim | Release: 1 September

This is one of those memorable films which just don’t leave you and has a loving (even heart-wrenching) impact but will bring a smile with simple moments. The writing is so simple and the direction is so impeccable which is shouldered by the ensemble cast which totally feels like a family, it scores on the subtle acting. It’s a heart-warming film and experience a visit into the land of crabs (meaning of the title) is greater than these awful words.

04. Arjun Reddy (Telugu)
Dir. Sandeep Reddy Vanga | Release: 25 August

It’s a prolonged hangover, in a good way. Sandeep Reddy Vanga scales up his film by venturing into a new dimension, of course with an extraordinary narrative and screenplay. Never has Indian Cinema ventured into doing a character study, here is Arjun Reddy for the an impact(ful) education of love and live. It totally belongs to the superior acting ability of Vijay Devarakonda. Which was the last Telugu Film apart from Baahubali which brought a radical change? For me, it falls into the place of Imtiaz Ali’s “Rockstar”, the passion and pain for love – I may be affected deeply by Arjun Reddy because I found myself watching it consecutively for 3 nights. Well, now I’m emotional to write more about the film. Hail Arjun Reddy! Thankfully, I didn’t witness the film on big screen – here, I’m writing about it.

03. Vikram Vedha (Tamil)
Dir. Pushkar-Gayathri | Release: 21 July

The stylish film bending slightly towards realism using the fine craft of film-making and especially storytelling in a captivating manner is an interesting film, worth. We’ve had films showcasing the good, the bad and the ugly in a generic way. Taking an inspiration from the mythological story ‘Vikram Vetal’, Pushkar-Gayathri’s directorial Vikram Vedha takes a different way about the good and the bad by blurring them in an interesting manner. My first full-fledged review written for the blog and I also had an opportunity to meet the directors a month back. [READ THE FULL REVIEW]

02. Take Off (Malayalam)
Dir. Mahesh Narayanan | Release: 24 March

Being a Malayalam film, it’s an Indian film in the times of the language conflict it owes to the spirit and not the community, caste, creed, sex & religion. Two words for the film: SHEER BRILLIANCE. There’s a reason to why Malayalam films are more appealing compared to any other Indian (regional and also Bollywood) section: their realism, treatment and story-driven films which are rooted, non-glamorous. The tight Screenplay, enigmatic direction and the thrilling rescue operation takes the film high. And the heart wrecking interval shot will shock you. You won’t expect such quality in every department whether it’s the raging background score, the VFX, the authentic production design, the captivating Cinematography and the brilliant performances in one ‘regional’ film. Parvathy pulls off such a powerful act and will leave you awestruck with her acting abilities. “Take Off” soars with integrity and brilliance, undoubtedly the best of 2017.

01. Angamaly Diaries (Malayalam)
Dir. Lijo Jose Pellissery | Release: 3 March

So I was at the International Film Festival of Kerala, Trivandrum and the film was playing under the section “Indian Cinema Now” – finally, a chance to watch the film on a big screen and that too, where it originated from. I was watching it for the 4th time, a gentleman standing in front of me was stunned when he knew about it – he just couldn’t believe what was so amusing about the film. He then called his friend who apparently plays the Mother in the film and guess what, she was stunned too – though she knew people were watching it numerous time, she couldn’t get enough because being a non-Malayali how did I liked and savoured the film so much. Well, find the answer in the review. [READ THE FULL REVIEW]

2017 was indeed a year of story-telling and inclined towards the skills of writing and direction. Let’s wait and watch what 2018 has to offer…

Long Live Cinema!

Copyright ©2017 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.


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