Monday, September 06, 2010

I'm Loving It

I like to think of myself as a global citizen. I’m widely travelled and pride myself on being more globally aware than most. And this reflects in my taste – in clothes, in my style of holidaying, in my thinking and attitude, in my food preferences. However, one aspect in which I am ‘local’ as one can get is in terms of movies – I will watch all the international cinema you can show me, and I will watch it with much admiration – but for better or for worse, my heart and soul belong to Telugu cinema.

It is the cinema I grew up with, and it reflects a part of the tradition and culture I grew up in, in a way no other cinema can. Telugu cinema is what introduced me to the magic of movies, and though I have discovered a wider and richer world of movies out there, this discovery has been made because it was Telugu cinema that originally stirred my fascination for movies. It introduced me to the fascinating world of movies, it inspired in me a love for cinema, and for that I am eternally grateful to Telugu cinema.

And so, dedicated to this first love of mine, is a list of my all time favourite Telugu movies (in no particular order).

1.  Swarna Kamalam: This K. Viswanath movie about a dancer from an artistic family with starry ambitions, who is tied down by family circumstances and her own inability to appreciate the beauty of the art-form and a painter who loves dance, and how their paths cross. This is Bhanupriya’s show all the way – she is a beautiful woman, and a very graceful dancer. Great score by Illayaraja and some lovely dancing.

2.  Chantabbai: This Jandhyala comedy is a hoot. I consider this one of Jandhyala’s best comedies, and that is saying something. It is a pleasure to watch Chiranjeevi play a bumbling detective – that man has fantastic comic timing. It’s one of those early movies where he isn’t bound by his stardom and fan expectations, and consequently gives a truly endearing performance. Pond.....James Pond, indeed!

3.  Kshana Kshanam: This irreverent road trip/ heist film by Ram Gopal Varma is a gem that combines thriller, drama and comedy very smoothly, and the result in one helluva ride. It really makes me miss the Varma of old, before he got into making self-conscious movies (or movies for himself). The cinematography stands out. Sridevi looks drop-dead gorgeous, and her comic instinct carries the film.

4.   Aithe: This offbeat thriller, made by a brand new director (Chandra Shekhar Yeleti), with no known faces, can actually claim some credit for creating a mini-revolution in the industry. It proved that you don’t need stars, or fights, or song and dance sequences – all you need is a brilliant storyline, catchy dialogues, passable acting, confident direction and tight editing – and you have an awesome movie on your hands which will go on to become the surprise hit of the year. I love this movie because it took courage to make it, because it came like a breath of fresh air among all the stale offering during those years, and most of all, because it’s a bloody well made, gripping thriller.

5.  Seetharamaiah Gari Manavaralu: This beautiful family drama by Kranthi Kumar had an unusual storyline, wonderfully real and etched out characters that you start to care about, and a rarely seen glimpse into how rural, old-fashioned Andhra really lives. Outstanding performances by almost the entire cast, and some lovely music. It does get over-dramatic and weepy in the end, but its still a wonderful movie. (Now) embarassing confession: this film saw Samee and me becoming Meena fans, and the fandom lasted for a long time afterwards. (Samee will kill me for putting this on my blog, but she adored Meena so much, she’d go kiss the TV every time she came on screen. What? She was only 3 years old then!)

My other all time favourites are Mayabazaar, Gundamma Kadha, MissammaNuvvu Naaku Nachavvu, Rudraveena, Khushi, Gamyam and Manmadhudu. There are just so many!


Preeti said...

I just HAD to comment on this post! See, I am a Gulti, bought up in Delhi. So the only time I caught up on Telugu movies was during summer vacations at Vizag or when Dad enthusiastically bought a tape/CD home! And I usually hated them , except for some golden ones! Mayabazaar, Gundamma Kadha are my Dad's favorites. I loved them too! Nuvvu Naaku Nachavvu and Manmadhudu I saw only last year when my Ammama and Tata forcibly made me watch them, and surprisingly, I actually enjoyed them! Another gem is Sankarabharanam..
Why do I feel my comment was longer than your post? ;-)

Preeti said...

I meant "Brought up in Delhi".. ;)

Ramya said...

@Preeti: Yeah, I got that part! ;-)
I'm so glad you watched some of my all time faves and liked them too! See, not half so bad, are they?
Now see if you can get your hands on some of the others I recommended - I have a hunch you'll enjoy them. :-)

Vamsi said...

Chanttabai - My all time favorite movie :) I had seen it so many times..but still this is the first movie I had asked for, when I got myself enrolled at Bigflix here at Gurgaon..Overall, my list matches yours by more than 70%! Guess most telugus will have atleast 50-60% of their favorites from this list!

Ramya said...

@Vamsi: Chantabbai is awesome, isn't it? Did they have it in Gurgaon? So what are the other movies on your list?

Praveen Kandanala said...

i would have added added vedam to the list.
Others would be
aaha na pellanta
saptapadi (made me think about caste and manusmriti)

Ramya said...

@Praveen: I was rather underwhelmed by Vedam. In fact, I thought Gamyam was much better made than Vedam. The last 20 minutes of Vedam seemed very contrived to me.
But yes, agree with the other two recommendations...

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