Out of the around 600 films released in four southern languages — Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam — there were some that wowed audience and critics alike.
Here are 10 of the best south Indian films of 2016:
Visaaranai: This hard-hitting film coming out an industry that’s known for celebrating police officers, is a riveting take on the abuse of power by the force. This is a story of powerless, faceless and voiceless men and how they become victims of a corrupt system.
Pellichoopulu: A refreshing tale of modern-day romance, Tharun Bhascker’s Pellichoopulu doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of storytelling. Nevertheless, it strikes a chord with the audience, thanks to its life-like characters and their performances. Amidst all the romance and laugh-aloud humour, this Telugu drama makes a gentle, intelligent case for the education of woman.
Ammani: This Tamil film is deeply rooted in its setting, much like the film Kaaka Muttai, and the way it is shot is proof of this. Filmed as realistically as possible in a small house in Vysarpadi (Chennai), actress-filmmaker Lakshmy Ramakrishnan captures the life of a lower middle-class household beautifully. The film proves that simple stories, when told with unflinching realism and sensitivity, can strike a chord with viewers and make for a compelling watch.
U-Turn: Pawan Kumar’s critically acclaimed thriller, a terrific follow-up to his first film Lucia, assures that there’s more to the Kannada industry than the remakes they are known for. It’s a film that keeps you guessing until the last minute. Even with its philosophical narrative style, it appealed to all sections of the audience, and it is more intriguing than any recent thriller from the south.
Oru Muthassi Gadha: This film is about two feisty grandmas and the heartwarming relationship they share. Filled with fun and frolic, this Malayalam drama questions the attitudes towards the elderly in a non-preachy way. Along the same lines of Bollywood film Baghban, about an elderly couple whose children treat them as a burden, Jude Anthany Joseph’s Oru Muthassi Gadha addresses the subject with a lot of sensitivity.
Uriyadi: A solid directorial debut by Vijay Kumar, this Tamil campus drama doesn’t hesitate to portray drug use and violence. With absolutely no commercial compromise, Uriyadi throws a spotlight on caste-based politics and how students fall prey to it across Tamil Nadu. The excessive violence might make one flinch and squirm, but it doesn’t take your eyes off the film.
Kshanam: A Ravikanth Perepu-directed Telugu thriller, Kshanam kept viewers on the edge of their seats from the get-go. It’s a story where a bunch of underrated actors — Vennela Kishore, Satyam Rajesh and Anasuya — shine with the aid of a taut screenplay. Adivi Sesh, the lead actor, also proved himself as a successful writer.
Iraivi: A story about women, told from the perspective of the men in their lives, Karthi Subbaraj’s Tamil drama Iraivi didn’t do that well at the box-office. However, it is a great tribute to women. This emotional drama hits you like a tonne of bricks. The film brings out the actor in filmmaker S.J. Suryah, and he is a treat to watch.
Sethupathi: Even though Vijay Sethupathi’s Sethupathi is your regular Tamil police drama, the fact that it’s a really cool movie, makes it stand out. It’s also a great family drama and reminds us that policemen, too, have families and want to spend more time with them. The crackling writing makes it work, even with minor flaws.
Kammatipaadam: As much as it’s a mob movie, Rajeev Ravi’s stunning and well-written Malayalam drama is actually about the urbanisation of a slum in Kerala, and how in the process the dalits were forced to give up their land to real-estate mafias.