From Baahubali’s Prabhas to Mersal’s Vijay, these south stars were the newsmakers in 2017
South cinema has a lot to offer in 2017 -- from big blockbusters to small innovative work. From the spectacular performance of Baahubali, veterans like Mohanlal still delivering superhits to younger stars like Vijay Deverakonda, Allu Arjun and Junior NTR who grow from strength to strength, films from the four southern states dished out a veritable treat.
Here is a list at all those who stood out:
The year’s crowning glory was of SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Conclusion. Rarely does it happen in Indian cinema that a sequel betters the original. However, Baahubali 2 did just that – in terms of visuals, drama, performances, action, the film gripped the nation’s imagination like nothing else. The reason for it was the film’s director SS Rajamouli – he teased us with his flights of fantasy as he presented flying ships and bulls with their horns on fire in the battlefield. Rajamouli simply would stop at nothing to crystalise his imagination onscreen. And the audience returned the favour in ample measure – the film grossed an estimated of Rs 1700 crore in global collections.
Tamil film Mersal was the next big phenomenon that hit the audience this year. And leading the charge was actor Vijay, who took the Tamil filmdom by storm appearing in a ‘father and sons’ triple role. With a storyline that centred around corruption in the medical field, Mersal became a phenomenal hit, grossing more than Rs 250 crores worldwide. It was made at an estimated budget of Rs 120 crores.
However, 2017 belonged to Vijay for reasons more than Mersal. The actor gave one more major hit this year – Bairavaa. An interesting action thriller, themed around a man and his girlfriend uncovering the nefarious designs of a dreaded gangster, the film was an entertainer all the way. Bairavaa too was rewarded well, making Rs 114 crores worldwide (approx).
Actor Suriya returned in 2017 with the third installment of his hit series – Singam -- with a new film called Si3. The hot-headed cop was back and the audience loved it. Grossing an estimated Rs 108 crores globally, the film was a monster hit. Si3, like many Tamil films, is a socio-political drama of an honest cop taking on the corrupt, in this case, involved in illegal dumping of toxic waste and causing serious health concerns. With the right mix of message, drama and glamour, the film was a runaway hit.
If 2017 was good to Suriya, it was a mixed bag for his brother, Karthi. He had two big releases this year -- while Mani Ratnam directed Kaatru Veliyidai was a disaster, Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru charmed the box office.
Actor Dhanush too had reason to smile in 2017 – for he was successful in whatever venture he attempted. As an actor, Velaiilla Pattadhari 2, despite lukewarm response from critics, had a decent run at the box office. However, his directorial debut, Pa Paandi, was met with far greater enthusiasm by the audience. A heart-warming entertainer, the film got good reviews as well.
It was not as if the film scene in 2017 was only a ‘guy’ phenomenon. Shining brightly in the firmament was Nayanthara, who delivered a smash hit this year called Aramm. And as is often expected from her now, she led the charge from the front. In an author-backed role, she simply owned Aramm. Playing a district collector, who tries hard to ease the suffering of people in a drought-stricken village, Nayanthara excelled as a performer. Tall and commanding, she was a picture of confidence. A topic that can easily become preachy and unconvincing was held together by a restrained performance by her. Naturally, it was appreciated both by critics and audiences alike.
As the year drew to a close, Tamil filmdom was to be hit by another tsunami -- Aditi Balan. Starring in a film called Aruvi, Aditi’s spirited performance was lauded from all quarters. Praising the film, HT review said how “the film is powered by Aditi, unarguably the boldest lead character one can come across in Tamil cinema this year”.
In Telugu cinema, 2017 was dominated by five names – Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Allu Arjun, Jr NTR, youngster Vijay Devarakonda and Sai Pallavi.
The growth of Rana Daggubati as an actor has been a steady one, but post Baahubali, his stars have been shining bright. Needless to say, 2017 was the best so far. It began with a bang when Baahubali 2 released in April this year. The film was, of course, a blockbuster. Playing the antagonist, Bhallaladeva, Rana was as larger than life as it gets.
However, about a month before Baahubali 2 released, came a small film, Ghazi (The Ghazi Attack in Hindi), which released in February. Made at a budget of Rs 15 crore, it went on to make Rs 35.53 crore. Based on the sinking of PNS Ghazi of the coast of Vishakapatnam before the India-Pak war in 1971, the film was a moderate success box office wise, but earned Rana a lot of goodwill. Also, it was his first solo project that got him noticed by a pan-Indian audience.
Then in August came Nene Raju Nene Mantri, a socio political drama, supposedly inspired from the life and times of MG Ramachandran. Playing the lead character Jogendra, Rana’s performance came up for much praise. Made at a modest budget of Rs 12 crore, it went on to earn Rs 45 crores globally.
Till Baahubali happened, not a soul beyond the four southern states knew who Prabhas was. He has many hits in Telugu and is a huge star to boot (lovingly called Darling by his avid fans), but before playing Amarendra/Mahendra Baahubali, few in the rest of India had any idea of him.
Then came Baahubali...
The phenomenal success of Baahubali, ensured that Prabhas was catapulted into the top league. His next, Saaho, has generated a huge buzz ever since it was announced. It will certainly be among the most awaited films in 2018. Knowing the expectation, the makers have ensured that it appeals to his newly-earned pan-Indian audience. With that in mind, they have roped in a host of Bollywood faces including Shraddha Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Chunky Pandey and Mandira Bedi.
Baahubali gave us, the rest of India, another sensation -- Anushka Shetty. She has been a huge star in Telugu and Tamil industries for a while. However, with Baahubali, she took us back to the era of Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit, when a female star would never be simply an ‘add-on’. It may be recalled that when Baahubali: The Beginning released, Rajamouli came in for criticism for the way Tamannaah’s character Avanthika was portrayed in a sequence in the film. Dubbed ‘The rape of Avanthika’ by critics, they took offence to taming of Avanthika by a man.
However, many believed that Rajamouli redeemed himself with the character that Anushka played, a feisty woman in love, who will take on anybody -- the man she loves, a domineering and unjust mother-in-law and an out-and-out evil brother-in-law. Anushka played the role with absolute conviction.
Subsequently she remained in news as the front runner to star opposite Prabhas in Saaho too. After months of speculation, she had to give it up as her dates were booked for another big budget Tamil film.
Now again, she is in news. The teaser of her new film, Bhaagamathie, created a furore among fans when it unveiled earlier this month. And this is just the beginning…
Another actor who shook Tollywood was actor Sai Pallavi who made her Telugu debut with Fidaa opposite Varun Tej. The film was a rom-com about an NRI who falls head over heels in love with a vivacious girl, played by Sai Pallavi. A perfect love story ends up in a mess as their personal differences create complications. The film was made at a modest budget of Rs 13 crore but romped home with Rs 90 crore (gross).
This year, she did yet another Telugu film -- this time with the pin-up guy of Telugu films, Nani. Titled MCA (Middle Class Abbayi), the film has created quite a sensation at the box office and is still ruling the roost. Pallavi was suddenly the girl next door whom everybody loved. Her engaging personality, a pretty smile and the mischief in her eyes, has made her a popular choice for all.
He isn’t called stylish star for nothing in Telugu films -- Allu Arjun has had a superb run at the box office in the last couple of weeks. Though he had just one release in 2017, he ensured that it was a wholesome entertainer. Duvvada Jagannadham, a crime entertainer, was made at a budget of Rs 50 crores and ended up making Rs 115 crores.
Another Telugu actor Junior NTR, much like Allu Arjun, too has a successful stint in the last couple of years. This year too he tasted success, thanks to the superb run of his film, Jai Lava Kusa. The film, which saw Jr NTR play a triple role, charmed the audiences and went on to earn Rs 129 crores globally.
There was yet another film that created quite a buzz -- Arjun Reddy, the story of a brilliant medical student who goes down a self-destructive path after his girlfriend is forced to marry another man. Acted with passion by the lead actor Vijay Devarakonda, the film won over critics and the audiences alike. Made at a small budget of Rs 4 crore, the film went on mint Rs 51 crore at the ticket windows. Telugu cinema had found its next superstars -- Vijay and Shalini Pandey.
It takes tremendous character to continue delivering, 39 years after one’s debut. That is the story of Malayalam actor Mohanlal. 2017 was no different as the actor delivered not one, but two hits -- Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Velipadinte Pusthakam.
Family drama Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol tells the story of a middle aged man, living with his wife and kids, who attempts an affair to spice up his life. Bored of monotony of his life, he tries to have an affair with a young woman at work only to realise his mistake later. The film did good business earning Rs 52 crore and was profitable.
Velipadinte Pusthakam is the story of a college professor, played by Mohanlal, who tries to develop a relationship between students and teachers. Treated with humour and focussing on how inspiring students can produce much better results, the film was runaway hit. A song from the film, Entammede Jimikki Kammal, was a major hit. While the song was a major hit, however, it went viral after students of Indian School of Commerce, Kochi put up a dance performance based on the song.
There was another actor who came in quietly but won over audiences -- Parvathy. Her film, Take Off, based on the abduction of Indian nurses by ISIS and their subsequent rescue from Iraq, was appreciated by viewers. Actor Parvathy’s stellar performance as a woman escaping rape and death was the centrepiece. And she performed it with all her heart and conviction. The film grossed Rs 25 crore at the box office.
So good was she in the film that she walked away with Silver Peacock in the best actress category at the International Film Festival of India, held in Goa in November this year.
* All figures in the story are estimates and sourced from Wikipedia.
Author tweets @mniveditatweets
Follow @htshowbiz for more