Breaking new ground on screen

Down south

Breaking new ground on screen

A FEW HITS, MANY MISSES (TELEGU FILMS)

Unlike its contemporaries in Tamil and Malayalam, Telugu cinema usually sets its own pace with filmmakers mulling over scripts for long before announcing their ventures. The year 2014, however, started out on a tragic note for Tollywood with the demise of one of its most loved doyens, Akkineni Nageswara Rao.

The nonagenarian, however, left an indelible imprint in his swansong Manam, directed by Vikram Kumar, which, apart from him also featured his son Nagarjuna and grandson Naga Chaitanya. Apart from Manam, the other successful films included Race Gurram, directed by Surender Reddy, Heart Attack (Puri Jagannath), Run Raja Run (Sujeeth), Drushyam (Sripriya) and the low-budget Oohalu Gusa Gusalade directed by debutant Avasarela Srinivas.

While veteran Balakrishna stormed back into the reckoning with Legend, Ram Charan impressed with his Yevadu, for which Vamsi Paidipally wielded the megaphone and the film was also well received. Much was expected from Mahesh Babu’s 1 Nenokkadine, but the film failed to impress. A small budget film that touched a chord was Minugurulu, which had a visually-impaired boy for a protagonist. Ravi Teja in Power and Gopichand in Loukyam also caught the eye.
— C V Aravind

Sandalwood Talk (KANNADA FILMS)

This was a busy year for the Kannada film industry with 140-plus movies having hit the silver screen. It was also the year that saw several records being made and broken as far as box-office collections were concerned.

Ulidavaru Kandanthe, which marked the debut of actor Rakshit Shetty as director, was received well and also earned much critical acclaim. Ugramm, that starred Srimurali, was a blockbuster hit.

Maanikya, that saw Sudeep and Ravichandran pair up together for the first time, and directed by Sudeep, became a blockbuster hit as well as set the record for earning the highest first day collections. Gajakesari Gajakesari, starring Yash, and Drishya, starring Ravichandran, also did well.

Puneeth Rajkumrar’s Power***, that marked the Sandalwood debut of Trisha, was another huge hit completing 100 days in the box-office. Sharan Adhyaksha, Bahaddur Bahaddur and the recently-released Ambareesha have all fared well.

“This year, at least 40 per cent of Kannada movies did well as they were backed by good scripts and good execution. Also, several movies with newcomers like Gelathi and 6-5 = 2 also did well. Even Love in Mandya was well-received, exceeding expectations,” said film distributor B H Basha. In all, the industry is riding high, looking at an even better 2015.
— Bindu Gopal Rao

NEWCOMERS TO THE FORE (TAMIL FILMS)

Box-office returns hardly seemed to matter for Tamil filmmakers, as they churned out films by the dozen throughout the year. Significantly, most of the films were made on shoestring budgets and helmed by newcomers.

Among the films that made an impact were Goli Soda, directed by cinematographer Vijay Milton, Thegidi, directed by Ramesh, Nedunchalai by Krishna; Vayai Moodi Pesavum by Balaji Mohan, Manjapai by Naveen, Maan Karate by Thirukumaran, Karthik Subburaj’s Jigarthanda, Mundasupatti by Ram, Madras by (Pa Ranjith) and Kaviya Thalaivan by Vasanthabalan.

Although it broke new ground in terms of technical excellence, the Rajinikanth-starrer Kochadaiiyaan failed to live up to the billing. However, Rajini’s Linga fared much better. Vijay had a good year with two of his films Jilla and Kaththi directed by A R Murugadoss faring well at the box-office.

Surya’s lean trot continued with Anjaan hardly creating any ripples while Ajith Kumar’s Veeram received a positive response. Dhanush retrieved lost ground with Velayilla Pattathari. Perhaps for the first time in his eventful career, Kamal Haasan has three completed films Vishwaroopam – 2, Uthama Villain and Papanasam awaiting release in 2015.
— CVA
Fresh formulas (MALAYALAM FILMS)

Amid the showy, assembly-line new-generation films, it was Bangalore Days, Anjali Menon’s hugely successful coming-of-age film that defined Malayalam cinema of 2014.

The other box-office winners — 1983, Om Shanti Oshana, How Old Are You?, Ringmaster, Vikramadityan, Saptamashree Thaskaraha, Itihasa and Vellimoonga, the surprise blockbuster of the year — too had the family and light entertainment at their core even as hyped, action-heavy star vehicles failed to impress.

Nivin Pauly, with three big hits, topped the star chart while Dulquer Salmaan and Prithviraj found critical acclaim laced with commercial success. Mohanlal had a quiet time as a performer; none of his three outings tested his wares as an actor. But Peruchazhi — a spoofy entertainer packaged as a show-reel tribute to the star — managed to get the fans coming in, despite unflattering reviews.

Mammootty delivered the performance of the year in Venu’s brilliant Munnariyippu that viewed individual freedom and social stricture through the eyes of a double-homicide convict. He had a forgettable year with the disastrous Gangster though Rajadhiraja brought some respite. The year was also harsh on experiments as reflected in the disastrous box-office run of Ranjith’s Njaan.
— R Krishnakumar 

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