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Rewind 2018: Which was the Best Film in Telugu?

From Varun Tej-starrer Tholiprema to director Adivi Sesh’s kick-ass spy thriller Goodachari, we count down the 10 best Telugu films of 2018.

Karthik Kumar

2018 has not been groundbreaking in terms of box office success for Telugu cinema but the industry can be proud of some gutsy attempts, paving the way to films that have ushered in a new wave of cinema.

There might still be a long way to go for Telugu filmdom to really stand out with good content, but its attempts this year indicate that it is moving in the right direction. From Varun Tej’s Tholiprema to Adivi Sesh’s kick-ass spy thriller Goodachari, Cinestaan lists 10 best Telugu films of 2018.

10. Tholiprema

There’s a line in the film which roughly translates to ‘Memories. Good or bad. Need to be carried’. This profound line pretty much sums up the essence of Venky Atluri’s Tholiprema, a deeply emotional and poignant tale of first love and separation which tugs at heartstrings, evoking the kind of feeling that many films in a similar space over the years failed to create. Despite treading a familiar path and situations, it’s amazing how Tholiprema comes across as a very pleasant and fresh watch.

9. Bharat Ane Nenu

Bharat Ane Nenu is just the kind of film Mahesh Babu desperately needed after duds like Spyder (2017) and Brahmotsavam (2016). It’s a highly entertaining film with the right dose of heroism, politics and drama. In fact, it could easily be said that this is Mahesh Babu’s best work in a long time. Not only does he shine in a role that’s out of his comfort zone, but also owns it with the kind of ease and intensity we’ve rarely seen from him.

8. Rangasthalam

Sukumar’s Rangasthalam ends Telugu cinema’s long wait for a truly authentic rural story, which is powered by an emotional core. It takes a predictable story of revenge (salvaged by a thoroughly entertaining twist) and gives it a well justified rural touch, never making things appear artificial in the process. Finally, we have a film that does full justice to the title and it’s a gutsy attempt from Sukumar to take the rural backdrop to narrate a story of politics and deceit, without taking away the essence of the milieu.

7. Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi

After the heartwarming Pelli Chupulu (2016), director Tharun Bhascker returned with Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, a friendship-based comedy where the lead characters going down memory lane, relive their dreams and take their fears head on. If you were to put the film on the same pedestal as Pelli Chupulu and draw comparisons, you might be slightly disappointed as this is no Pelli Chupulu, but definitely has its moments which you’ll enjoy till they last. What it does succeed in bringing on screen is the freshness in performances with mostly newcomers and sparkling comedy that works very well.

6. Taxiwaala

Rahul Sankrityan’s Taxiwaala was an insanely fun paranormal thriller with a good dose of humour and a well-written and well-executed science-fiction sub plot. Despite treading familiar areas of storytelling, the film worked due to its fresh presentation and performances. Vijay Deverakonda, as usual, brings lot of swag and is earnest as a cabbie, but this film belongs to its director and his vision.

5. Awe!

Debutant Prasanth Varma’s Awe! borrows its core idea from James Mangold’s Identity, but it is one heck of a daring effort by Telugu cinema standards as it pushes the envelope by some terrific, seamless writing. Featuring an ensemble cast of Nithya Menon, Regina Cassandra, Rohini, Naresh and Kajal Aggarwal, it gave all the actors the scope not just perform but also shine in roles they’ve never attempted before in their careers.

One of the major highlights of the film was the visuals and it makes the overall experience wonderfully bizarre.

4. Sammohanam

Mohan Krishna Indraganti is one of the most promising directors of our times. Some of his films have worked and some haven’t, but his work, which has genuinely appealed to critics and audiences alike most of the times, is hard to ignore.

Sammohanam is another noteworthy attempt by the filmmaker and it achieves what most love stories don’t as it leaves an everlasting smile as you walk out of the cinema hall. It’s one of those films that touch all the rights chords and in doing so; it works in the most unexpected ways.

3. Mahanati

Nag Ashwin’s Mahanati is made with a purpose which is to celebrate the highs and lows in the life of legendary actress Savitri, who was a star in her own right. While it’s debatable why the film paints a very positive picture of the veteran, whose life was filled with controversies, it’s still laudable that the film succeeds in evoking a sense of pride in watching the story of a legend unfold on screen in the most inspiring and hard-hitting fashion. And by the end of the film, we’re convinced that no other filmmaker could have done justice to Savitri’s life as much as Ashwin.

Mahanati review: Fine tribute to a true legend

2. C/O Kancharapalem

C/O Kancharapalem sucks you into a world that's rarely been explored before, at least not so authentically in Telugu cinema. It’s an unconventional love story about heartbreak and the beauty in this pain. It’s one of those rare films where every actor contributes to making the viewing experience more than just memorable, and that’s what makes this film really stand out.

Brave of Rana Daggubati to back this gem of a film, which proved that strong content will always triumph over star power. Never before has a love story made such a lasting impression on viewers and Maha Venkatesh’s directorial debut deserves more than just praise.  

1. Goodachari

Goodachari is a spy thriller done right. It’s a kick-ass action-packed story of a spy that gets everything about the genre just right, making it accessible for masses and yet keeping the overall attempt truly international. It's powered by some action stretches that are flat out terrific. It's equally emotional as it follows a spy on the run. Full credit to Adivi Sesh for writing it with a lot of clarity and conviction and for not going off-track, trying to pander to any section of the audience. By Telugu cinema standards, this is a major breakthrough.

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