Disasters Of Tollywood 2023: These Telugu Films Failed Big Time In Meeting The Box-Office Expectations

2023 has not been a great year for many star actors in Telugu — Chiranjeevi, Pawan Kalyan, Ravi Teja, Vijay Devarakonda, and Samantha.

In the case of Megastar Chiranjeevi, he started off the New Year well with a commercial hit Waltair Veerayya. Though not a great film, the festival season of Sankranthi along with the mass elements made it a profitable venture.

However, his Bhola Shankar failed big time in getting a thumbs-up from critics and audiences.

Chiranjeevi’s co-star in Waltair Veerayya, Ravi Teja also delivered big financial disasters in the form of Ravanasura and Tiger Nageswara Rao in 2023.

Likewise, Pawan Kalyan’s Bro did not attract the audience in a big way, despite Trivikram writing the screenplay and dialogues.

Following is an overview of some of the Telugu films that failed to meet the expectations:

Bhola Shankar

Nothing worked for Bhola Shankar since its inception. Its director Meher Ramesh delivered two massive disasters before this — Shakti (2011) and Shadow (2013). In fact, he never had a significant success in his career.

On top of that, Bhola Shankar was a remake of a regular commercial potboiler Vedalam (2015, Tamil), which had nothing extraordinary in terms of storyline.

So, it was quite baffling to see Chiranjeevi remaking this, that too with a flop director.

Expectedly, the film bombed even with the loyal fans.

Meher Ramesh made Vedalam look like a classic with his direction.

The most cringeworthy scene in Bhola Shankar is the recreation of the famous bench scene of Khushi (2000) where Pawan Kalyan keeps looking at Bhumika’s navel. Here, you had Chiranjeevi and anchor Sreemukhi. It was so awkwardly filmed and definitely was not a pretty sight.

Ravanasura and Tiger Nageswara Rao

Both Ravanasura and Tiger Nageswara Rao had interesting storylines where Ravi Teja did push himself as an actor.

For example, Tiger Nageswara Rao was based on a real-life dacoit and the events that happened in Andhra Pradesh in the 1970s.

Ravi Teja’s character had some grey shades, which the actor pulled off with conviction.

However, the problem was with the inconsistent direction of Vamsee along with repetitive shots of bloodshed. What also did not help Tiger Nageswara Rao were the romantic subplots of Ravi Teja with his leading ladies.

Ravanasura, too, had Ravi Teja playing a character with grey shades.

In the beginning, we see him as a bumbling junior lawyer, but soon enough, there is a significant U-turn. Ravi Teja did a fantastic job of portraying the unhinged nature of his role.

However, his efforts were not enough to save the movie from drowning.

A major reason for the failure of Ravanasura was the haphazard flashback of his character Ravindra. Viewers did not feel any emotional connection with him.

Once the flashback ends, the proceedings become even more tedious.

Only the Ramayana connection was well done, but it does not add much to the film in the overall scheme of things.

Kushi

Shiva Nirvana’s Kushi was a crucial film for Vijay Devarakonda, Samantha, and of course, the director himself.

As the title suggests, Kushi had a safe subject, which could have given a lot of happiness to everyone. However, Shiva Nirvana did not make complete use of this opportunity.

Kushi had an interesting backdrop of two vastly different families. The hero’s father is a staunch atheist who does not shy away from expressing his opinions on God and astrology.

The heroine’s father, on the other hand, is not just a staunch believer in God but also gives religious lectures.

In structure, Kushi is similar to Mani Ratnam’s Sakhi (2000). Like Sakhi, here too, you have two rebellious lovers who decide to make their own home.

Both Vijay Devarakonda and Samantha delivered good performances and shared a scintillating chemistry on screen.

But the first half of Kushi dragged a lot, particularly in portions where Samantha’s Aaradhya is pretending to be a Muslim. As a result, viewers felt restlessness, despite Vennela Kishore’s comic excellence.

The second half was much better when the focus shifted to marital issues. When Samantha’s character has a miscarriage, she thinks that it happened because of her husband not doing homa (homam). Expectedly, some serious arguments lead to discord in domestic life.

The music of Hesham Abdul Wahab was melodious for the most part. However, all these elements were not enough to save Kushi from bombing.

Bro

Bro, directed by Samuthirakani, had a decent pre-release buzz, thanks mostly to Sai Dharam Tej and Pawan Kalyan coming together. Additionally, you had Trivikram writing screenplays and dialogues.

Markandeya (Sai Dharam Tej) is a man with many family responsibilities. He cannot afford to give time to anyone, including his girlfriend. One day, he meets with a road accident on the way from Visakhapatnam. Pawan Kalyan plays “Titan”, also known as the God of Time.

He gives Markandeya 90 days to complete his duties. In these 90 days, Markandeya undergoes a major transformation.

Stories revolving around God-giving life lessons are as old as hills. Still, they can be engaging if the narration is interesting.

Unfortunately, both Samuthirakani’s direction and Trivikram’s screenplay were subpar.

Bro had too many references to Pawan Kalyan’s political ideology and his previous hit songs.

It was clear that Samuthirakani banked heavily on audiences coming to see real-life mama-alludu (uncle-nephew) on screen. The chemistry between Sai Dharam Tej and Pawan Kalyan was pleasant but nothing great.

Agent

Director Surender Reddy’s Agent tried to be an action-packed spy entertainer like Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, but the required sharpness was missing.

The film was definitely lavish in scale along with some well-executed action sequences.

However, Agent suffered from a meandering storyline along with a vapid heroine — Sakshi Vaidya.

Another problem with the Telugu film was the weak back-story of Dino Morea’s character, who calls himself God.

Akhil, in his new avatar, delivered an uninhibited performance, but that was not enough to save the film from sinking badly.

Skanda

Boyapati Srinu’s Skanda is a signature Boyapti macho film that is high on testosterone but low on emotional coherence.

The director has been most successful with Nandamuri Balakrishna. Their duo delivered three blockbusters — Simha (2010), Legend (2014) and last year’s Akhanda (2022).

However, Boyapati Srinu did not have the same level of success as other actors like Ramcharan in Vinaya Vidheya Rama (2019) and now Ram in Skanda.

At its core, Skanda is a tale of revenge with the backdrop of the two-state chief ministers. Ram tried his level best to save this sinking ship. He definitely looked at ease in this Boyapati universe, but the film, on the whole, did not appeal to even hardcore Boyapati fans.

Shaakuntalam

After burning hands with the 2015-released Rudramadevi, director Gunasekhar yet again tried his hand with a large-scale epic. This time, the film is based on the famous play Abhigyana Shakuntalam, written by the legendary playwright Kalidas.

Gunasekhar tried to marry the sensibilities of an Indian epic with the texture of a Hollywood Disney film.

But Shaakuntalam turned out to be an even bigger dud than Rudramadevi. It was a colossal disaster, particularly for Gunasekhar and Samantha.

Samantha did justice to the different shades of Shakuntala; the naivety of an ashram girl in the beginning and then, the inner strength of a wronged woman.

Shaakuntalam had its share of powerful moments, like the court scene where Shakuntala questions the inability of Dev Mohan’s Dushyant to recognise her.

Allu Arha also made a sparkling debut in her short screen time. But the film never came across as a cohesive whole.

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