Some Of The Best Malayalam And Tamil Films in 2023

The year of Mammootty

2023 can be easily called as the year of Mammootty both critically and commercially. The legendary actor had three releases this year and all of them are so distinct from each other. The Malayalam film industry did not see a lot of commercial successes this year but for Mammootty, who is 70 now, 2023 will always be hugely memorable.

It all began with Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Like an Afternoon dream). The film belongs to the genre of surrealism where a Malayali man enters into a Tamil village and starts behaving like a Tamilian. Though it looked absurd on the surface the audiences thoroughly enjoyed these unexplained situations. This is majorly thanks to Lijo Jose Pollissery’s direction coupled with Mammootty’s performance.

Next up was the police procedural Kannur Squad. The film was based on a real-life accident where a bunch of police officers had to head north in order to catch and bring back some criminals. More than the story what made the film gripping was the direction of Roby Varghese Raj and also the star power of Mammootty. The actor had some powerful mass dialogues coupled with well choreographed action sequences. However, Mammootty saved the best for the year end with Jeo Baby’s marital drama Kaathal – The Core. The homosexual angle was dealt with utmost sensitivity without falling into the trap of mainstream clichés. Jeo Baby also did a brilliant job in exploring the predicament of Jyothika’s character.

Among the other Malayalam actors Tovino Thomas found both critical acclaim and commercial success with the film 2018. It was a survival drama based on the Kerala floods that had devastated the state in 2018. The film had an ensemble cast with everyone doing justice to their parts.

Regarding Tamil Film Industry Siddharth struck gold with his production ChithhaChithha is a hard-hitting drama about the bond between Eeswaran (Siddarth) and his niece Sundari (Sahasra Sree). While Eeswaran is like a father figure to Sundari, he absolutely adores her. The backdrop of Chithha is the killings of young girls by a pedophilic serial killer. Chithha is not a movie that is easy on the eyes, it has some highly disturbing visuals but this film is a must watch particularly for those who like intense dramas based on an important social topic.

Now let’s take a deep dive into the best of Malayalam and Tamil in 2023


1 Kaathal – The Core

In the last few years many movies and web series have depicted homosexuality in different angles. What makes this Mammootty and Jyothika starrer refreshing is the utmost humanness with which Jeo Baby presented the situation. The life of Mathew Devassy (Mammootty) takes a drastic turn when his wife Omana (Jyothika) files divorce after twenty years of marriage.

Kaathal – The Core unfolds in a very leisurely manner. This is a movie that needs to be watched with some patience as the story takes time to kick in. But once the plot and the conflicts are established there is no looking back.

A very strong aspect of Kaathal – The Core is how Jeo Baby has dealt with the relationship of Mathew and Omana. Omana has no personal animosity towards Mathew despite not having a fulfilling relationship with him. She understands his sexual orientation and not only wants to have a life of her own but also wants Mathew to make peace with his sexuality. There is an inherent decency in the way both the characters have been written and that is what makes this marital drama refreshing.

The courtroom portions also have some impactful dialogues and scenes. Mammootty undoubtedly deserves all the accolades that came his way. It is not just about accepting a path breaking role but the veteran actor also did a brilliant job in showcasing different emotions. Jyothika also stood tall with her graceful performance. On many occasions she lets her subtle expressions do the talking. Another actor worth mentioning here is R.S Panicker as Mathews’s dad Devassy.  There is a heartbreaking scene between him and Mammootty when the latter apologises for forcing his son to get married in spite of knowing his son’s feelings.

2. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam

In this film Mammootty played a man called James returning with his family from a pilgrimage. He has a peevish personality in terms of easily getting irritated and always being doubtful about people even if they do some good to him. On the way back from the pilgrimage James tells the driver to stop the vehicle at a certain place when others are in deep sleep. He walks straight into a Tamil Village and starts behaving like a Tamilian man called Sundaram. Everyone is puzzled but they wait patiently to understand who the man is because he was behaving exactly like the missing Sundaram. This leads to many amusing situations with both his old and new families.

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam is one of those films where audiences can interpret the story in different ways because director Lijo Jose Pellissery does not give any explanation for the behavior of James. There is no particular medical condition that you can pin point and as a result the audiences are constantly playing a guessing game. This is a major plus for the film.

Cinematographer Theni Eshwar also did a brilliant job in capturing the beauty and the quirks of the village through his lens. There is surrealness to the frames. What also made the transformation of James into Sundaram a smooth process was Mammootty’s incredible performance.

3. Kannur Squad

Roby Varghese Raj’s Kannur Squad is a solid police procedural that engages the viewers in spite of some generic mainstream elements. The film is based on the real-life incidents that happened in Kannur between 2007 and 2013.

Roby Varghese struck a perfect balance between the commercial tropes and the grittiness needed for the subject. Mammootty in this film is ASI George who leads a special investigative team.

Kannur Squad takes a little time to get going but gathers momentum soon when the plot moves into a thriller mode. What also works for the Kannur Squad are the back stories of the team members. They have been well written and add a certain weight. An interesting aspect of Kannur Squad is that one of the officers is facing serious corruption charges but is still on the investigative team. Certain rifts happen in the team at a crucial juncture because of this.

A particular stretch that has to be mentioned here is the one involving the Tikri village in U.P. The action sequences in the dark were brilliantly shot.  As viewers there is a certain tension that we feel about the safety of these police officers.

The role of a police officer is not new for Mammootty but the veteran actor shined bright as the determined squad leader. There are some delightful massy moments also involving Mammootty which the actor pulled off with great panache.

4. 2018

Jude Anthany Joseph’s 2018 is a well-made survival drama that engrosses the viewers throughout. The film is set in the village of Aruvikkulam. The first half an hour is devoted to establishing the lives of the villagers. Tovino Thomas plays a former army soldier. He drops out of army as he feared death. Among the other cast members there is Lal and Narain (Mathachan and Winston) respectively. They make a living through fishing.

For a survival drama like this it is imperative that the technical department puts its best foot forward. Thankfully the atmospherics of 2018 are solid. The VFX team in particular deserves appreciation as they successfully created a chilling atmosphere. Cinematographer Akhil George’s work is also A class.

Apart from extracting solid performances Jude Anthany Joseph also did a wonderful job in showing the unity between villagers in times of crisis across caste, religion and politics.  

One area where 2018 could have been better is showcasing the role of the government and the media during those tough times. While the performances were brilliant all round Tovino Thomas deserves a particular mention for how he portrayed the different shades. His character transitions from fearing death to becoming a brave man who fights against all odds.

5. Thuramukham

Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham is a hard-hitting tale of the workers movement in Kochi. The film is based on the real-life incidents that happened in Mattancherry area. Apart from the exploitation of the workers Rajeev Ravi also showed how the headmen and the bosses pit the poor against each other.

What makes Thuramukham even more compelling is how the director integrated a family drama into this narrative. Mymood (Joju George) is a worker who is forced to leave Mattancherry because he raised his voice against the work site supervisor ‘moopan’. Moopans are part of a nexus that ensure the ‘Chappa system’ prevailing in the harbor. As a result of his leaving his wife Umma is forced to bring up their three children on her own. While the elder son Moidu becomes the leader of a gang working for the cruel contractors, the second son Hamsa joins the union fighting against the Chappa system.

In spite of the lengthy running time and the leisurely pace Thuramukham is a must watch for how Rajeev Ravi has documented the struggles of poor and oppressed in the format of a commercial pot boiler. He brings to life an important chapter in history that is forgotten. The cinematography and the music are in perfect sync with the rustic nature of the film. The director has done a good job in capturing the spirit of those who fought for labour rights.

The performance of the actors across the board also adds a lot of power with specific mention to Nivin Pauly and Poorna Indrajith.

Now to the best of Tamil films in 2023

1. Chithha (Uncle)

S.U. Arun Kumar’s Chithha is a powerful film on many levels. On one hand it is a solid emotional drama about a strong bond between a doting uncle Eeswaran and his niece Sundari (Sahasra Shree). S.U Arun does not waste any time in establishing how Eeswaran is a father like figure to Sundari. He bathes her and also combs her hair. On the other hand the film also offers a fresh perspective on how to help a sexual assault victim. It is not just only getting angry and swearing to take revenge.

The film also touches upon how men and women react differently to a crisis and what kind of approach they adopt. Nimisha Sajayan plays Sakthi. She and Eeswaran had a misunderstanding in the past but in the present they end up falling in love all over again. Their romance has some fine moments of tenderness that acts as a soothing balm to this otherwise grim story. However, Nimisha’s role is not pertained to just being a love interest. There are scenes where she asks some important questions and nudges Eeswaran to not get swept away in his aggressiveness. Chithha is for most part is a disturbing yet gripping watch but there are some scenes which needed trimming. These portions include the scenes of Sundari and the kidnapper. The very thought of a little girl being held captive by a serial rapist is hair-raising thought in itself.

2. Farhana

Farhana headlined by Aishwarya Rajesh and directed by Nelson Venkatesan is a gripping thriller about human psyche. In Farhana Aishwarya Rajesh played a middle-class housewife who joins a bank call center. Her husband and father in law run a shoe shop but the money isn’t sufficient for Farhana to manage the household. Farhana is initially reluctant to go for the interview but she gets through the exam with distinction marks.

In order to earn more money she shifts from the bank call center to a friendship chat center. Initially the lewd talks from the male callers disturb Farhana but soon she comes across a caller who talks to her in a sympathetic and sweet manner. She feels overwhelmed as she is not used to this kind of affection. But soon the story takes a dark turn.

A big strength of Farhana is how the title character has been written and performed. Farhana starts off as shy and under-confident but soon the character undergoes many changes and Aishwarya Rajesh did a brilliant job in showcasing the various nuances. The thriller elements were also very well done. The backdrop of this mystery man and how he ends up being a tormentor has some chilling moments. Similarly, how Farhana uses technology to get even with her tormentor gives a lot of high. In the second half the screenplay does become loose with some unconvincing scenes involving the husband but there is no denying that this thriller/drama packed a huge punch.

3. Por Thozhil (The Art of War)

Por Thozhil is a gripping whodunnit about two policemen whose working methods are very different from each other. On one hand there is Prakash (Ashok Selvan) who is heavily bookish. His way of doing an investigation is majorly inspired from the crime novels that he has read. Loganathan (R. Sarathkumar) is blunt and has little patience for the bookish ways of Prakash. Naturally they do not get along well but during the course of an investigation they end up forming a bond while coming across some shocking revelations.

In most psycho thrillers the theme of a disturbed childhood plays a key role. This one also touches upon a similar theme but the gripping execution of Vignesh Raja makes sure that the audiences don’t feel a sense of de javu.

Late Sarath Babu’s role is a major highlight of Por Thozhil. His character has been well designed and the actor has done a terrific job in evoking fear. As far as the two main policemen are concerned both R. Sarathkumar and Ashok Selvan have done a wonderful job. Jakes Bejoy’s background score coupled with Kaliselvan’s cinematography elevate the drama further.

Year-Ender: Best Telugu Web Series Of 2023

In 2023, different kinds of thriller stories like ‘Dayaa’ and ‘Dhootha’ have been attempted. However, non-thrillers like ‘Save the Tigers’ struck a chord with the audience.

Web series in Telugu have seen a slow but gradual increase. The quality of these shows cannot be compared to Hindi. However, there have been some good ones.

For example, the 2021 Telugu web series Unheard by Aditya KV was an impactful show that dealt with the freedom struggle from the point of view of Hyderabadis.

Ideological standoffs between the revolutionaries and different opinions about the Nizam rule were brought out well in the web show. Though Unheard had a stage-like atmosphere, which took some time to get used to, it was nevertheless a fascinating web show, particularly for those who are interested in history.

In 2022, acclaimed filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi adapted the work of Malladi Venkata Krishnamurthy into a gripping Telugu web series titled 9 Hours. Krish was not the director but he was involved creatively.

As the title suggests the story was set in the stipulated time of nine hours. Three prisoners plan to rob three banks and go back to jail before anyone finds out.

The best part of 9 Hours was the unexpected revelations that shocked the viewers. Though most of the story takes place in a single location, it never comes in the way of the audience’s enjoyment.

Now, in 2023, different kinds of thriller stories have been attempted — even paranormal. For example, Pavan Sadneni’s Dayaa revolves around a freezer van driver whose life turns upside down when he finds a dead body inside his van.

Dayaa poster
A poster of ‘Dayaa’ Telugu web series. (X)

JD Chakravarthy played the title role in his OTT Debut. Pavan Sadneni did a good job of keeping the audience invested with his skilful direction.

It was a right mix of mystery and drama while dwelling on the dark side of human nature. JD Chakravarthy led the ensemble cast with his skilful acting.

Among the thrillers with paranormal activities, Vikram K Kumar’s Dhootha was a riveting saga, making important points about politics and journalism.

But other thrillers like Mansion 24Athidhi, and Vadhuvu could not create the same impact.

On the other hand, non-thriller web series like Save the TigersKumari Srimathi, and Newsense struck a chord with their target audience.

Interestingly, we have two major Telugu web shows in 2023 dealing with the nexus between journalism and politics.

Now, let us get into the details a little more:


A poster of Newsense web series
A poster of ‘Newsense’ web series. (X)

Newsense directed by Sri Prawin Kumar was an insightful take on the nexus between media and rural politics. The story was written by real-life journalist Priyadarshini Ram. This clearly showed in the authentic presentation.

Newsense touches upon several issues like the impact of sensationalising news and doesn’t shy away from criticising media and its corrupt practices.

Thankfully, there are no filmy clichés despite being set in the much-abused area of Rayalaseema.

The perspective of a female journalist, rarely seen in Telugu shows, is another plus to this web series.

Bindu Madhavi played the role. Her interactions with Navadeep’s Shiva have a certain playfulness and the dialogues have the appropriate rustic touch.

Navadeep got into the skin of a street-smart journalist and embraced the many grey shades of his character with aplomb.

Bindu Madhavi also lights the frame whenever she is on screen.

Among the supporting cast, Nanda Gopal made a solid impression as sub-inspector Edwin.

Newsense has only one song Myneeru Pillagada. This track made for a soothing watch and listen.

It is streaming on Aha.

Save the Tigers

A poster of Save the Tigers
A poster of ‘Save the Tigers’ web series. (X)

Director Teja Kakumanu‘s Save the Tigers is similar to Anil Ravipudi’s F2: Fun and Frustration (2019) in terms of husbands having issues with their wives. However, this web show has its individuality.

What made Save the Tigers entertaining is how the director used the background of his protagonists. The title is a reference to married men — that they should be saved from going extinct much like the tigers.

The main protagonists are Ghanta Ravi (Priyadarshi), Rahul (Abhinav Gomatam), and Vikram (Krishna Chaitanya). There is nothing common between them in terms of their backgrounds. They only meet at the school where their children are studying. But soon start bonding big time.

Save The Tigers hits the ground from the first frame. Several scenes tickle your funny bone. The interactions between Abhinav’s Rahul and Rohini playing the servant were an absolute riot. Fortunately, there are no body-shaming jokes here.

The director was also successful in creating conflicts that have substance. For example, Vikram’s wife is an activist-cum-lawyer. Their daughter is the emotional anchor between them like many children.

The Telugu web series also subtly touches upon workplace harassment without breaking the entertainment flow.

The story of Save the Tigers is not high on logic but that does not become a major deterrent. The performances of the three main leads were flawless.

Priyadarshi got the body language of a dairy farm owner spot on. Abhinav Gomatam’s satirical humour leaves the audience in splits.

A particular mention must be made of the scenes where he is struggling to get over writer’s block.

Krishna Chaitanya’s character does not come with any major comic punches but still, the actor was mighty impressive in his scenes. His acting skills are most visible when he expresses his frustration on being sandwiched between his boss, mother and wife.

Save the Tigers is an absolute binge-watch with just six episodes of short duration.

It is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Kumari Srimathi

Thiruveer and Nithya Menen in Kumari Srimathi
Thiruveer and Nithya Menen in a still from ‘Kumari Srimathi’ web series. (iamThiruveeR/ X)

Kumari Srimathi directed by Gomtesh Upadhye was a heartwarming tale of a female entrepreneur.

The backdrop is a beaten-to-death genre of a family feud. Still, Gomtesh brought a freshness to this tale. The freshness comes from how he depicts the journey of Srimathi in establishing her restaurant-cum-bar in Ramarajulanka.

Some subtle points are made about how society differentiates men and women while doing the same business.

Apart from Nitya Menen’s Kumari, there were also other strong female parts. Whether it is the mother Devika (Gautami) or grandmother Seshamma (Talluri Rameshwari), the scenes between the three gave the show some of its best moments.

But the love triangle where two men compete for Kumari’s affection falls out of place.

Among the male characters, Prem Sagar made a big impact as the semi-villain. His character has some of the best punch lines too.

Nani has a special appearance which does not last long but the viewers feel a sense of nostalgia for seeing the Ala Modalaindi (2011) jodi again.

Overall, Kumari Srimathi was a well-made feministic tale. The Telugu web series is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


Dhootha poster 2023
A poster of ‘Dhootha’ Telugu web series. (X)

Director Vikram K Kumar is mostly known for romantic and science fiction films, but he is also not new to the genre of paranormal thrillers.

Vikram earlier made a Tamil film with R Madhavan — Yavarum Nalam (2009). It was a nail-biting suspense thriller dubbed into Telugu as 13 B. In the movie, the television set was a major character.

In Dhootha web series, newspaper cuttings play a pivotal role. Whenever a newspaper cutting appears viewers get tensed up because there is a back story to the newspaper by the same name.

There are some hard-hitting dialogues about the dangers of intersecting politics and journalism. This web show makes it very clear that nothing good will come out of politicians running newspapers.

Naga Chaitanya as Sagar is initially presented as an ideal husband and righteous media person. In fact, many aspiring journalists look up to him. However, layers upon layers of secrets start tumbling down soon.

Naga Chaitanya did a splendid job in this grey-shaded role. A particular mention must be made of the mental and emotional breakdowns.

Most Impactful Hindi Web Series Of 2023

A good thing about these web series is several of them have left a huge impression in the minds and hearts of the audiences.

In the last few years, the number of web series in Hindi has been on the rise, particularly after the advent of mainstream production houses in the OTT space.

For example, YRF Chief Aditya Chopra forayed into the digital space in 2023 with the impactful human drama The Railway Men, based on the Bhopal gas tragedy.

First-time director Shiv Rawail had a difficult subject to deal with given the sensitivity of the issue. However, the newbie more than rose to the challenge. He didn’t shy away from addressing the moral corruption within the political landscape of that period.

Zoya Akhtar, of course, created her own stamp in the OTT space with the two seasons of Made in Heaven and Dahaad.

Similarly, acclaimed director Neeraj Pandey struck gold with the web series Special OPS and The Freelancer (though he is only the creator and not the director of The Freelancer his imprint is visible).

A good thing about these web series is several of them have left a huge impression in the minds and hearts of the audiences.

Kaala Paani, directed by the duo of Sameer Saxena and Amit Golani, was a gripping dystopian drama set in the backdrop of a mysterious disease in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The show dealt with various themes like environmental exploitation and the harmonious relationship that indigenous people share with nature. It did suffer from pacing issues but still, it was gripping enough.

The ensemble cast led by Mona Singh also delivered brilliant performances. For Mona Singh, it was a double whammy after her impactful turn in Made in Heaven Season 2.

Similarly, director duo Prashanth Nair and Randeep Jha also delivered an unforgettable tale of courage and resilience Trial by Fire based on a real-life story.

After a long gap, Abhay Deol did some of his work here as Shekhar Krishnamurthy. Much like the other Deols — Dharmendra, Sunny, and Bobby Abhay — also rocked this year but in the digital format.

Now, let’s check the most impactful web series made this year in Hindi.

Made in Heaven Season 2

Radhika Apte in Made In Heaven Season 2
Radhika Apte in ‘Made In Heaven Season 2’. (S)

Contrary to the title Made in Heaven, there is nothing heavenly about how most of the marriages are portrayed in the two seasons. There were solid expectations from the second season, given how the first one was received.

Directors Zoya Akhtar and Neeraj Ghaywan among others not only delivered a solid follow-up but also pushed the envelope further in exposing the double standards and hypocrisies that dwell in our society through different weddings.

Just like the first season, here too, the social aspects came out strongly. Yes, the show could have been done with a crisper edit, but that didn’t diminish the impact of these stories.

Out of all the episodes, my two most favourite are the ones directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. One of them is about a successful author and Professor Pallavi Menke (Radhika Apte).

She is a Dalit Buddhist who asserts her Dalit identity at every step, including her wedding ceremony. Radhika Apte’s fiery performance coupled with Neeraj Ghaywan’s direction made this a punch-packed episode.

Another episode directed by Neeraj Ghaywan revolves around a man and a woman in their 50s having an extramarital affair without the knowledge of their respective spouses. Neelam Kothari and Samir Soni played Kriti and Gulshan respectively.

They were lovers while in college. This episode ends with Kriti taking a bold step that obviously doesn’t go down well with her children.

The performances across the board were first class with special mention to Radhika Apte and Mrunal Thakur in their extended special appearances.

Mrunal played a beauty queen struggling in an abusive relationship. The actress did a wonderful job, particularly in the breakdown scenes.


Gulshan Devaiah in Dahaad
Gulshan Devaiah in ‘Dahaad’. (X)

Dahaad directed by Reema Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi was more than a police procedural about a serial killer.

Some important social issues were also addressed in a hard-hitting manner.

Zoya Akhtar wrote the screenplay for Dahaad. For those who are not aware, Dahaad is inspired by the story of a real-life serial killer Cyanide Mohan.

Vijay Varma as the serial killer was terrific. He played socially deviant roles in the past too, like Darlings. Here too, he makes a huge impact as Anand Swarnakar.

He appears to be a do-gooder on the surface but what he actually does is seduce women from the lower strata of society, particularly the daughters of those who cannot afford to give dowry.

He camouflages himself into a different person each time and seduces them with sweet talk. Once they fall for him and sex takes place, he believes they are characterless and deserve to die.

Vijay was simply fantastic both as a serial killer who has unresolved issues with his dad and also as the middle-class married man who pretends to be a great husband and father.

Another standout feature of Dahaad is the performance of Gulshan Deviah as Devilal Singh. Devilal Singh is not only a determined police officer but also weathers a big storm at home due to his progressive outlook.

Devilal wants his daughter to be independent and not confine herself to being a housewife in future. His wife doesn’t think that way and this results in a conflict between husband and wife.

His progressive outlook can also be seen in the few scenes he shares with his son. The best example of this is the moment when Devilal tells his son that it is natural to have curiosity about sex at his age but at the same time, he needs to be cautious in these matters.

Gulshan was absolutely magnetic in every scene.

Sonakshi Sinha was adequately fierce but her performance feels like a letdown in comparison to others.

Another area where Dahaad slightly faltered was its climax. The confrontation scene between Vijay and Sonakshi needed to be more powerful. Still, Dahaad was definitely a worthy roar.


Karishma Tanna in Scoop
Karishma Tanna in ‘Scoop’. (X)

Hansal Mehta has made a niche for himself with stories based on real life, whether it is Shahid (2012), Aligarh (2015) or Omerta (2017).

His web series debut Scam 1992 (2020) was also based on the real-life rags-to-riches story of stockbroker Harshad Mehta.

Continuing this route, Hansal Mehta once again chose a real-life story for his second web series — Scoop. This time the focus was on a real-life investigative Journalist Jigna Vora.

Jigna Vora was falsely suspected of having a hand in the murder of another investigative journalist, Jaideb Sen (Prosenjit Chatterjee). As a result of her arrest, Jigna changes from being a confident journalist to a dejected woman. Karishma Tanna delivered a breakthrough performance in the titular role.

Apart from Karishma, Harman Baweja and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub were also competent in their respective parts.

In fact, the character of Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is also based on a real-life person named Hussain Zaidi. Hussain Zaidi is, of course, a prominent investigative journalist along with being a prolific writer. He was the mentor of the real-life Jigna.

A strong aspect of the Scoop web series is not only how Hansal Mehta depicted the challenge faced by these journalists in their everyday lives and the effect it has on them, but he also did a first-class job in showing the prejudices that female professionals face.

Hansal Mehta also deserves credit for how he fearlessly exposed the nexus between Dawood Ibrahim and the police.

Hussain Zaidi was also involved in this web series as part of research and his hand is clearly visible on many occasions.


After co-directing Sacred Games in 2018, Jubilee is the first full-fledged web series that Vikramaditya Motwane directed. He successfully transported the viewers into the 1940s.

Aparshakti Khurrana in Jubilee
Aparshakti Khurrana in ‘Jubilee’. (X)

The focus was the Hindi film industry of that time with the backdrop of the Independence movement and partition.

It is broadly inspired by the lives of prominent yesteryear film personalities Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani (Shrikant Roy and Sumitra Devi in the web series). Prosenjit Chatterjee and Aditi Rao Hydari played these parts.

The other prominent characters include Binod Das (Aparshakti Khurrana) Shrikant’s Man Friday who aspires to become a big actor. Niloufer Qureshi (Wamiqa Gabbi) is a courtesan.

Sidhant Gupta is Jay Khanna, a Pakistani refugee who is desperate to find a footing in Bombay. They both are street smart and end up striking a friendship with a common goal of making it big in the city and Roy Talkies.

Jubilee is a show that immerses the viewers from the first frame. The technical department deserves major kudos along with the director.

The art direction in particular is top-notch. The sets of Priti Gole and Yogesh Bansod are truly era-appropriate. Similarly, the cinematography of Pratik Shah enhances the overall experience.

What also made Jubilee binge-worthy was how Vikramaditya captured the turbulent political atmosphere and the effect it had on the film industry. Many scenes resonate with today’s times.

For example, there is a moment where Prosenjit Chatterji’s Shrikant Roy talks about the dangers of using cinema for propaganda. The characterisations were also layered particularly the ones essayed by Sidhant Gupta, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Aparshakti Khurrana.

Sidhant Gupta perfectly portrayed the pain and also the fighting spirit of a young man who has suddenly become a refugee in what was until recently his own country.

Wamiqa Gabbi’s Niloufer is someone who has big aspirations and to fulfil those dreams she takes all the possible routes. Some of it is questionable too but at the same time, Niloufer never comes across as compromising. Wamiqa effortlessly portrayed all these shades.

Aparshakti Khurrana took a huge U-turn from his regular comic roles. His character Binod Das has some grey shades which the actor pulled off with panache.

Certain passages in the show could have been done with a tighter edit.

Also, Aditi Rao Hydari’s Sumitra Devi needed to be more power-packed both in writing and performance. Her romantic scenes with Jamshed Khan (Nandish Singh Sandhu) with whom she tries to elope are loosely written.

Despite these flaws, Jubilee is still a very well-made web series.

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo

Filmmaker Homi Adajania created a niche for himself with the likes of Being Cyrus (2005) and Finding Fanny (2014).

With Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, the director made his digital debut. The show was produced by Dinesh Vijan under Maddock Films.

Dimple Kapadia in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo
Dimple Kapadia in ‘Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo’. (X)

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo was a formidable tale of four badass women set in the remote village of Hastinapur, somewhere in Rajasthan.

Savitri (Dimple Kapadia) is a matriarch who runs a company named “Rani Cooperative”. On the surface, this company produces various products but there is also a dark side.

Savitri’s team of women includes Kajal (Angira Dhar), Bijilee (Isha Talwar), and Shanta (Radhika Madan). While Shanta is the rebellious daughter Kajal and Bijilee are daughter-in-laws of Savitri.

These four together run drug business with a firm hand and live life on their terms. Deepak Dobriyal played the role of “The Monk” who is the arch-villain. Ashish Verma and Varun Mitra played the sons of Savitri.

Their characters have zero knowledge about the nature of their mother’s business. However, they soon come to know.

A strong aspect of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is how the director Homi Adajania makes Savitri’s palatial haveli a character in itself.

This is a place that is full of secrets. There was also an authenticity to the way the village was portrayed and the rustic makeover of these characters.

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is high on both thrills and emotions. There are many moments of tension and unpredictability as the plot thickens.

The emotional aspect can be particularly felt in the characterisation of Dimple Kapadia. Savitri is extremely brutal and menacing. At the same time, there is an emotional gravitas in the way her flashback is revealed.

Similarly, Isha Talwar’s Bijilee had the additional layer of homosexuality. Thankfully, this angle was dealt with sensitivity.

There are also some laugh-out-loud moments, thanks to Ashish Verma playing one of the sons. He brought in many chuckles with his understated humour.

Through his web series, the director also paid homage to both Mirch Masala (1987) and Bandit Queen (1994).

Talking about the performances, Dimple Kapadia led the ensemble by exuding both raw power and required vulnerability.

Angira Dhar and Isha Talwar also stood out with their power-packed performances.

The one slight flaw is the underutilisation of the legendary Naseeruddin Shah. The senior actor was a delight to watch in his portions. Still, the viewers feel that there could have been more of him.

Overall, this group of women gave a solid high to the viewers.

Best Of Tollywood 2023: These Telugu Films Not Only Made Good Business But Also Won The Hearts Of Audiences With Their Content

In 2023, the Telugu film industry did not have any monstrous successes on the scale of RRR (2022) but there are many decent hits like Hi NannaMiss Shetty Mr PolishettyBhagavanth Kesari, and Virupaksha headlined by stars and tier-2 actors.

Small-budget films like Writer Padmabhushan and Balagam also struck a chord with audiences and critics alike.

Further, in 2023, several new and unconventional themes have been explored in Tollywood.

For example, Balagam was a human drama set against the backdrop of a funeral in rural Telangana. The practices of a specific region were portrayed with authenticity and this majorly contributed to the audience’s connection with the film.

Writer Padmabhushan delves into the struggles of both an aspiring writer and the unfulfilled aspiration of a housewife who wanted to become a writer. This is again a theme that we don’t see in Telugu cinema.

Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty explored the concept of a young man falling in love with an older woman in the backdrop of sperm donation.

Hi Nanna is about the trials of a single father and a complex love story that ends happily. Both these films worked well with their target audiences.

The biggest surprise of 2023 though is the transition of Balakrishna from a macho hero to a father hero. In Bhagavanth Kesari, the actor played a foster father with a salt-and-pepper look that went with his age.

Lastly, Virupaksha was a paranormal thriller that raised some important points about the prejudices and superstitious beliefs set against the backdrop of a particular village.

Now, let us delve a little more into these Tollywood releases:

Hi Nanna

First-time director Shouryuv delivered a riveting emotional saga about a single father and his daughter, along with a mother who battles her inner demons. Hi Nanna moves at a slow pace and is definitely not for those who prefer high-octane entertainers.

A poster of the film Hi Nanna
A poster of the film ‘Hi Nanna’. (X)

The trio of Nani, Baby Kiara, and Mrunal Thakur were simply splendid in their respective parts. For Nani, the role of Viraj is a cakewalk. But still, the actor was a delight to watch — whether it was the boyishness of a young lover or a determined single father in the later stages.

Baby Kiara more than held her portraying innocence and vulnerability like a pro.

Mrunal Thakur as Yashna/Varsha delivered a performance that was a step ahead of last year’s Sita Ramam (2022) in many ways.

On many occasions, she conveyed various feelings with just her expressive eyes, proving yet again why she is a bundle of talent.

Overall, Hi Nanna proved to be a perfect balm for those traumatised by the violent father-and-son dynamics of Animal.

Another strong aspect of Hi Nanna is the mostly soothing soundtrack of Hesham Abdul Wahab. My favourite songs in the album are “Samayama”, “Gaaju Bomma”, and “Ammaadi.

The one song that sticks like a sore thumb though is “Odiyamma” featuring Shruti Haasan in an extended cameo, which the film could have easily done away with.

Sanu Varghese’s cinematography is icing on the cake, particularly the portions where Viraj talks about his wife in a fairy tale format.

Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty

P Mahesh Babu’s Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty is a romantic drama filled with many layers. On one hand, you have an older woman Anvitha (Anushka Shetty), who wants children but not through marriage. She wants to go for IVF, that too, by choosing her sperm donor.

Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty best telugu films 2023
A poster of ‘Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty’. (X)

On one level, the movie has a distinct hangover of Ayushmann Khurrana’s Vicky Donor (2012). But Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty is very much its beast.

A big strength of the film is how P Mahesh Babu has sketched his two protagonists.

Anvitha comes across as very stubborn, at times cold-hearted too, but having said that, the viewers also understand why she is the way she is. The inner trauma of Anvitha was both well-written and enacted.

The director was successful in creating an authentic middle-class milieu through the characters of Murali Sharma and Tulasi playing Siddhu’s (Naveen Polishetty’s) parents.

Miss Shetty Mr Polishetty benefitted immensely from its two primary actors — Anushka Shetty and Naveen Polishetty.

Anuskha fits perfectly into the part of an older woman who is scared of getting into relationships.

Naveen Polishetty was an absolute livewire. His real-life experience of doing standup comedy came very handy. However, he was equally good in the more dramatic portions.

Jayasudha had an extended cameo as Anvitha’s mother, and her fan act of Balakrishna raised some chuckles. A couple of flaws include the rushed transformation of Siddhu’s parents, particularly the father.

Also, the likes of Nassar could have been utilised better.

Bhagavanth Kesari

In Bhagavanth Kesari, director Anil Ravipudi successfully moved away from his regular style of filmmaking and delivered an emotional drama that showed a different side to Nandamuri Balakrishna. At the same time, he satisfied his hardcore fans.

Balakrishna in Bhagavanth Kesari
Balakrishna in ‘Bhagavanth Kesari’. (X)

Bhagavanth Kesari is primarily about an ex-police officer turned foster father to Vijji (Sreeleela).

As a young child, Vijji meets Bhagavanth in a jail where her father (R Sarathkumar) worked. Bhagavanth feels an emotional connection with the child from the beginning. After the sudden death of Vijji’s father, he takes over her responsibility.

The biggest USP of Bhagavanth Kesari is easily the emotional drama between Bhagavanth and Vijji. The thought processes of Bhagavanth and Vijji are vastly different from each other.

Vijji’s interests lie more in marrying the love of her life. Bhagavanth, on the other hand, wants to raise her like a lion. In that process, he pushes Vijji to do certain things.

In these portions, the attitude of Bhagavanth reminds the viewers of Aamir Khan’s Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal (2016).

Director Anil Ravipudi also made some important points about good and bad touch through a rousing monologue of Balakrishna.

Both Balakrishna and Sreeleela delivered powerful performances. Balakrishna’s command over the Telangana dialect was also commendable. Arjun Rampal made for a worthy opponent.

He brought in the right amount of swag and ruthlessness. It is not the most innovative character, but Arjun Rampal still made it work.


Karthik Varma Dandu’s Virupaksha is a solid paranormal thriller that scores equally on both the atmosphere and the content.

The filmmaker proved to be a worthy successor to his master — the hugely successful filmmaker Sukumar, who is also the screenplay writer for this film.

best of tollywood 2023 telugu films virupaksha
Sai Dharam Tej’s ‘Virupaksha’. (X)

Virupaksha is one of those movies that instantly draws the viewers in with its ambience. It has some genuine jump scares; on more than one occasion, the viewers would want to close their eyes.

Sukumar’s screenplay is filled with many layers. He, along with his director, comes up with valid arguments against prejudices and superstitious beliefs that stem from ignorance.

They also deserve credit for not making their protagonist Surya (Sai Dharam Tej) larger than life. There are no unnecessary songs or comedy tracks that deviate the audience’s attention.

The twists and turns are engrossing till the end.

A special mention must be made of the climactic punch regarding the character of Samyukta Menon’s Nandini.

On the performance front, Sai Dharam Tej delivered a convincing performance. But it was Samyukta who stole the show with a complex character.

The supporting cast comprising Rajeev Kanakala, Ajay, and Sai Chand were also fine in their respective parts.

Hello Meera (Amazon Prime)

Hello Meera, directed by Srinivasu Kakarala, is a well-made experimental film.

The story revolves around a single character. Gargeyi Yellapragada played the titular role.

Meera is all set to marry a man called Kalyan and is busy finalising the last-minute formalities for her big day in Vijayawada.

A poster of the film Hello Meera
A poster of the film ‘Hello Meera’. (X)

She is on her way back home, but at that exact moment, a cop from Hyderabad calls her to report to a police station at the earliest. The reason is her ex-boyfriend had attempted suicide mentioning her name in the suicide note.

What follows is a story that is not just high on thrills but also dwells on the prejudices that a modern woman faces.

It is not an easy task for any filmmaker to write and engage the audience with a script with only a single actor at its centre. But Srinivasu Kakarala more than rose to the occasion. He ensured that the audience was invested in the plight of Meera. As viewers, you want her to come out safe from this ordeal.

Hello Meera has a series of voice conversations. At times, it does get monotonous, but these voice characters also have a variety.

For example, there is her conservative mother, a father who stands by his daughter, and a future partner who comes across as slightly insensitive.

Teja Paruchuri of Vismai Foods has given his voice to the future spouse.

Gargeyi Yellapragada as Meera is thoroughly impressive. Her reactions to different situations do not come across as staged at any point. She is supremely natural. Her character of a modern woman who is forthright and owns up to the mistakes she has made in the past is something that many modern women can relate to.

Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire

Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire directed by Prashanth Neel is an important movie for its leading man Prabhas. The Baahubali star has been struggling big time to maintain his image as a pan-India star.

Prabhas in Salaar
Prabhas in ‘Salaar’. (X)

Many thought that Om Raut’s Adipurush (2023) would bring back the lost glory, but nothing of that sort happened. In fact, the movie only added to Prabhas’ misery.

With Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire, Prashanth Neel delivered a masala treat which should appeal to the fans of Prabhas.

The biggest strength of Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire is the intense brotherhood showcased between Prabhas’ Deva and Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Vardha.

Deva’s intense affection for Vardha is visible right from the first scene, and this brotherhood only becomes stronger as the film goes on. Not surprisingly, Prabhas shares most sparks with Prithviraj.

Shruti Haasan played the role of Aadhya. She speaks in a heavily accented American accent, which is irritating, to say the least. Prabhas and Shruti do not have many scenes and aren’t romantically paired at least in this first part.

Prabhas doesn’t have many dialogues, but the actor is successful in portraying the raw aggression reminiscent of Chatrapathi (2005) days.

Prithviraj is also wonderful in portraying both the vulnerability and determination of a future successor caught in the power struggle.

The world of Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire is similar to Game of Thrones in terms of drama and character dynamics.

Some of the themes explored by the film are the right to leadership and loyalty among others. Prashanth Neel has done a good job of depicting these themes.

Saalar: Part 1-Ceasefire ends with a cliffhanger that sets a good base for the second part.

Apart from an irritating Shruti Haasan, the KGF (2022) hangover does play a spoilsport. Also, the bloodshed in the second half gets too gory much like Animal which was also released in December.

Best Of Bollywood Films 2023: An Overview Of Some Impactful Hindi Movies That Did Good Business

2023 has definitely been a far better year for Bollywood in more ways than one. Films like PathaanJawanAnimal, and Gadar 2 have become major blockbusters.

In addition to being blockbusters, both Pathaan and Jawan opened to good reviews.

On the other hand, Animal had mixed reviews. Despite severe criticism about the toxic masculinity promoted in the movie, Animal broke many box office records majorly due to the performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and Bobby Deol.

Gadar 2, as a film, has no emotional impact like its prequel, but there was enough for the hardcore masses to enjoy. Sunny Deol proved he still has the charisma to play a mass hero by pulling off the gravity-defying action sequences.

Apart from these blockbusters, other films that attained hit status include Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani and OMG 2.

2023 has also been a year where not-so-mainstream actors Pankaj Tripathi and Vikrant Massey successfully carried their films on their shoulders. Well, I’m talking about OMG 2 and 12th Fail.

Now, let us get into more details about the best of 2023 Bollywood films, not necessarily the blockbusters.


Siddarth Anand’s globetrotter was an eagerly-awaited movie since it marked Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback to the silver screen as a leading man after a long gap of five years.

Shah Rukh in a still from Pathaan
Shah Rukh in a still from ‘Pathaan’. (X)

Siddarth Anand had a huge responsibility on his shoulders, and the director more than succeeded in delivering a popcorn entertainer with the aid of a fast-paced screenplay by Shridhar Raghavan.

What also made Pathaan the perfect mass entertainer was the strong antagonist in the form of John Abraham.

The combat sequences between Shah Rukh Khan and John were well-executed. John Abraham’s Jim was not just menacing, but he carried an angst. Jim had a solid back story explaining why he did what he did.

Another strong aspect of Pathaan is the backstory of how this spy gets this name. The scenes of Shah Rukh Khan with the locals of Afghanistan have so much warmth in them.

Shah Rukh had a blast playing a full-fledged action hero. He was in equal parts charming and rugged. However, after delivering a series of subpar outings, John Abraham surprised everyone in this action entertainer.

Dimple Kapadia, as the boss lady, was also in fine form.

There were some things in Pathaan which did not quite work. One was the simplistic way the topic of patriotism and the Pakistani angle were dealt with.

Also, the love story between Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika practically jumped out of nowhere.

However, in the final tally, Pathaan was the ideal mass comeback for Shah Rukh Khan.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani and Satyaprem Ki Katha were easily the best romantic films Bollywood produced this year.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani poster
A poster of ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’. (X)

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani had all the staple elements that one expects from a Karan Johar entertainer.

There were larger-than-life sets and some exquisite costumes, particularly gorgeous saris worn by the women. However, there was more to the film than just mere gloss.

Karan Johar subverted some of his own themes from his previous films — like how fear is camouflaged as respect in our culture. He also made some pertinent points on the side effects of toxic masculinity.

Most importantly, Through the role of Ranveer’s Rocky Randhawa, Karan Johar presented a protagonist willing to change and evolve into a better human being.

Just like Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh in Animal, Rocky does not share the best relationship with his father. But he never uses it as an excuse to become a wild “animal”.

In Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, many scenes could be watched on repeat mode. The sequences of Rocky flirting with Alia’s Rani Chatterjee in his broken English and her amusement bring a smile to the viewers’ faces.

The decency of Ranveer backing off when Rani clarifies that nothing more can happen between them was refreshing.

The scene where Rani proposed to Rocky in the middle of a road was definitely filmy but adorable, given how Karan switched the gender roles.

A major highlight of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani was the recreation of the song “Dola Re Dola” from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas (2002).

Ranveer’s Rocky Randhawa performing Kathak with his prospective father-in-law (Tota Roy Chowdhury) was a pleasant surprise.

The different emotions that Rani Chatterjee went through — from shock, wonder, and finally extreme happiness — were portrayed brilliantly by Alia.

In the second half, the messaging got heavy. Nevertheless, it was not a deterrent.

The performances of the principal cast were brilliant all through, with particular mention of Tota Roy Chowdhury as the Kathak-loving man.

Satyaprem Ki Katha

A still from Satyaprem Ki Katha
A still from ‘Satyaprem Ki Katha’. (X)

Just like Rocky Randhawa in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, Kartik Aryan’s Sattu in Satyaprem Ki Katha was also a protagonist willing to evolve and change.

Sattu was initially shown as an underdog well out of Katha’s (Kiara Advani) range.

But circumstances not only bring them together but also get them married.

Katha had a haunting past that was initially assumed to be the result of a bad break-up with her ex-boyfriend. But later, it turned out to be something more sinister.

The film was essentially a relationship drama while dealing with an important social issue like date rape.

Director Sameer Vidwans did a good job of depicting the issue of consent in relationships.

At times, Sattu came across as too patient with Katha, but he was never presented as some social reformer. The change in Sattu happened gradually.

Both Kartik and Kiara delivered brilliant performances.

The supporting cast, led by Gajraj Rao, was also in fine form.


OMG 2 poster
A poster of ‘OMG 2’. (X)

This spiritual sequel to the 2012-released film Oh My God was a compelling social drama that looked at the taboo yet important subject of sex education.

The best part of Amit Rai’s direction was how he normalised the discussions around physical intimacy without making it look awkward or uncomfortable.

One of the standout scenes in OMG 2 was Pankaj Tripathi’s Kanti Sharan Mudgal explaining how the body parts of males and females should be taught in school. Pankaj Tripathi did complete justice to the arc of his role.

Akshay Kumar had an extended cameo as Lord Shiva’s messenger in human form.

In Oh My God, Akshay played Lord Krishna. Much like that film, here too, he played the part with the right amount of divinity.

The scenes of Akshay imparting wisdom to Kanti Sharan were good to watch.


Jawan was a film that can ideally be described as a Khichdi of Shankar’s brand of vigilante cinema and Shah Rukh’s Chak De India.

At its core, Jawan was a father-and-son drama with 50 shades of Shah Rukh Khan as both father and son.

Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan
Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Jawan’. (X)

Atlee absolutely nailed these father-son moments besides addressing various grassroots problems like underdeveloped government facilities.

One of the women in Shah Rukh Khan’s vigilante gang was played by Sanya Malhotra. Her backstory was based on a real-life person named Dr Kafeel Khan.

Dr Kafeel Khan was falsely accused of the death of several kids at a hospital where the real issue was a lack of proper facilities along with corruption. Dr Kafeel Khan tried to procure oxygen, but his best efforts failed to save the children.

Yes, the presentation of these grassroots issues was simplistic, but still, it hit the viewers hard.

Jawan also benefitted immensely from Shah Rukh Khan submitting totally to the director’s script and giving it his all.

Nayanthara also made a solid Bollywood debut in her dual-shaded role as a determined NSG commander and a single mother.

On the other hand, Vijay Sethupati made for a good opponent, particularly in the second half.

The same cannot be said about Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Dutt.

The energy dipped during the brief flashback scenes of Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika.

Sanjay Dutt’s extended cameo did not add great value to the proceedings.

Nevertheless, Jawan, on the whole, proved to be “paisa vasool” entertainment.

Jaane Jaan (Netflix)

A poster of Jaane Jaan film
A poster of Bollywood film ‘Jaane Jaan’ . (X)

For those who are not aware, Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan was based on the best-selling Japanese novel “Devotion of Suspect X“, which already has many onscreen adaptations.

Jaane Jaan was primarily about a single mother named Maya D’Souza (Kareena Kapoor), who runs a local café.

Maya has a dark past related to her ex-husband (Saurabh Sachdeva). Jaideep Ahlawat, Maya’s neighbour and a Mathematics teacher, secretly loves her but is socially awkward. Every day, he visits the café, leading to some amusing moments.

Maya’s life turns upside down after the re-entry of her ex-husband. From here, the movie goes into the zone of the Drishyam series.

Jaane Jaan was a survival thriller about a determined single mother. In this story, she gets the help of a neighbour who would go to any lengths to save her.

The soul of Jaane Jaan was the relationship dynamics between Kareena Kapoor’s Maya and Jaideep Ahlawat’s Naren. Sujay Ghosh did not miss a single beat in depicting this complex love. He also did complete justice to the novel “Devotion of Suspect X“.

The hill station of Kalimpong also became a character in itself, thanks to Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography.

The scenes between Kareena and Vijay Varma, playing a charming cop for a change, were good to watch.

Both Kareena and Jaideep got into the skin of their characters.

Vijay Varma brought a lot of charm to his scenes.

12th Fail

12th Fail film poster
A poster of the film ’12th Fail’. (X)

12th Fail, directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, was a classic underdog drama about a real-life IPS officer — Manoj Kumar Sharma.

The DNA of 12th Fail was quite similar to the underdog stories that Rajkumar Hirani directed — 3 Idiots (2009) and Munna Bhai (2003, 2006) films.

It was meant to give the viewers a warm hug and make them leave the theatres with a happy feeling.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra mostly succeeded in his endeavour. The director, along with his leading man Vikrant Massey, did a wonderful job of showcasing the numerous challenges that Manoj faces.

There were places in the first half where the pace dipped, but having said that, there was also a lot to enjoy, especially if you are a fan of inspirational films based on real life.

Apart from the overall strong performances by technicians, 12th Fail scored distinction marks.

The cinematography of Hemant Wagh, in particular, stood out — whether it was the initial scenes in Chambal or the later ones in Delhi Streets.


srk dunki
A still from Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Dunki’. (X)

Rajkumar Hirani’s Dunki will not do the business of Shah Rukh Khan’s last two films — Pathaan and Jawan, but there is no denying that this is an important film in terms of how it addresses an important social issue.

The issue is about borders existing only for the underprivileged. It presents a hard-hitting tale of immigrants in this case Punjabi migrating to England through illegal means for different

The first half of Dunki is mostly a breezy watch, but things take a serious turn just before the interval. Vicky Kaushal has an extended special appearance and is at his usual best.

The comic portions in this film don’t have the brilliance of the Munnabhai MBBS (2003), Three Idiots (2009), and PK (2014), but it recovers ground, particularly in the second half when the proceedings get serious.

The second half shows the many dangers Shah Rukh’s Hardy, Taapsee Pannu’s Manu and others go through to reach London. Here, their utopia comes crashing down. The viewers get a short but powerful glimpse of the menial jobs that these immigrants have to do even after securing citizenship.

One of these immigrants is Vikram Kocchar’s Buggu. Buggu passes the IELTS exam and goes to London legally before Hardy and Manu, but he is still not living a happy life.

Rajkumar Hirani’s directorial skills come out in the second half the way he handles the drama.

One of the things that work for Dunki is the love story between Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee. Both the actors share a good chemistry in both light and emotional scenes.

Anil Grover and Vikram Kocchar also bring a certain gravitas to their respective parts.

Overall, Dunki is a well-made social film. It is not flawless but there is a lot to take away.

Major Duds Of Bollywood In 2023: An Overview Of Some Of Hindi Films That Underperformed At The Box Office

Besides blockbusters in the form of PathaanJawanGadar 2, and Animal, Bollywood has also witnessed its share of box-office duds in 2023.

While many Hindi films didn’t do well, Salman Khan’s two releases — Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan and Tiger 3 — proved to be disappointments. Neither was an outright disaster, but the box-office collections were nowhere close to what Shah Rukh Khan enjoyed this year.

Likewise, Vivek Agnihotri’s The Vaccine War was a nonstarter. Much like his last film The Kashmir Files (2022), this one was also a propaganda film with a different subject. However, the results were contrastingly different.

Akshay Kumar had another disappointing year in 2023. Out of the three releases, only OMG 2 did good business; the other two  —Mission Raniganj and Selfiee were dead on arrival.

For Prabhas (since Adipurush is primarily a Hindi film, I am including it here) too, 2023 has been disastrous. Many thought that Om Raut’s Adipurush would break the dry spell of Prabhas after Baahubali (2015, 2017) but nothing of that sort happened. On top of that, the film itself got massively trolled on many counts.

Here’s an overview of the Bollywood flops in 2023:

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan

bollywood duds of 2023 Salman Khan Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan
Salman Khan’s ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’. (X)

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is much like Chiranjeevi’s Bhola Shankar, a remake of Ajit’s Tamil film Veeram (2014).

However, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is not a complete washout unlike Bhola Shankar, thanks majorly to its Eid release.

The film can be best described as Salman Khan’s version of 2 States (2014) and Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express (2013).

For those who haven’t seen Veeram, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is about a man called Bhaijaan and his bond with his three younger brothers. All three have a girlfriend each but the big brother doesn’t know about them. Bhaijaan himself is unmarried.

He firmly believes that a girl’s entry into the family will ruin their bond. At this point, you have the arrival of Pooja Hedge’s Bhagya with whom he falls in love later. This is the story in brief.

The major problem with Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is the half-baked love stories of the three brothers. As a result, viewers don’t feel any empathy for their desperation to find a girl for their Bhai.

The second half of the movie is more engaging, thanks to the scenes of Venkatesh who plays Bhagya’s elder brother with a turbulent past. However, it didn’t turn out to be a wholesome feast for the fans.

Tiger 3

tiger 3 salman khan
Salman Khan in a still from ‘Tiger 3’. (Facebook)

A lot was expected from Salman and Katrina’s Tiger 3, more so after the blockbuster success of the previous spy films War (2019) and Pathaan. There was immense pressure on Maneesh Sharma to deliver. Unfortunately, Tiger 3 was a massive step back.

Tiger 3 had plenty of style but the amalgamation of geo-politics and action didn’t strike a complete chord. For Maneesh Sharma, this was the second consecutive big film where he let down producer Aditya Chopra.


bollywood duds 2023 Prabhas Adipurush
Prabhas-Kriti Sanon’s ‘Adipurush’. (X)

Om Raut tried to do a masala retelling of Ramayana much like his first film Tanhaji (2020) but here, that formula backfired disastrously.

He along with lyricist-writer Manoj Muntashir took many cinematic liberties with the Ramayana.

The dialogues were too modern (or should I say funky), particularly the ones of Hanuman. If late Bapu had seen this Ramayana interpretation, he would have squirmed in his seat.

Saif Ali Khan single-handedly carried the acting department. He visibly had a blast playing Lankesh.

Both Kriti Sanon and Prabhas failed to capture the divinity of Rama and Sita respectively.

The Vaccine War

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Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘The Vaccine War’. (X)

The Vaccine War directed by Vivek Agnihotri did have its heart in the right place. It depicted the many challenges that a group of scientists, particularly women faced in making a vaccine.

Vivek Agnihotri did stage some good emotional moments. A case in point is the scenes featuring Pallavi Joshi and Girija Oak. However, the extreme heavy-handedness in storytelling became a major roadblock.

The Vaccine War was also severely problematic in the way it portrayed the journalist community. Raima Sen playing Rohini Singh Dhulia has a constant smirk on her face.

We only see her writing long articles downplaying the sincerity of our scientists. There is no second layer and as a result, the viewers feel that she gets more importance than required.

Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue

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Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra in ‘Mission Raniganj’. (X)

The DNA of Mission Raniganj is similar to several Akshay Kumar films where he plays the saviour role.

The storyline of Mission Raniganj had all the potential to be a thrilling evacuation drama but unfortunately, nothing of that happens.

Instead of rooting for Akshay and Co, the viewers only feel a sense of dullness.

What also didn’t help Mission Raniganj were the shoddy production values coupled with bad VFX.

Parineeti Chopra as the dutiful wife had a miss-and-blink appearance much like her last film with Kumar Kesari.

It was a pity to see Parineeti Chopra wasting herself after showing solid potential in her initial films like Ishaqzaade (2012) and Shuddh Desi Romance (2013).


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Akshay Kumar-Emraan Hashmi’s ‘Selfiee’. (X)

Selfiee is the remake of the critically acclaimed Malayalam film Driving Licence (2019). It was directed by Lal Jr and written by the late Sachy.

Driving Licence was both insightful and entertaining in how it depicted a fan taking on his favourite actor due to a misunderstanding.

The film was also a brilliant take on the psyche of human nature. Both Driving Licence and Selfiee have more than one similarity with Shah Rukh Khan’s film Fan (2016) but unlike that movie,  here you have an amicable solution.

Director Raj Mehta along with his writer Rishabh Sharma delivered an entertaining film. It was easily Akshay’s best outing as a leading man in recent times.

He took many potshots on himself like the scene where his character Vijay Kumar talks about the number of films and advertisements he has to do every year. The makers also did a good job of showcasing the vulnerability beneath all the swag.

Emraan Hashmi’s fan act was initially not so convincing but he settled into a groove soon. Despite being an entertainer, Selfiee joined the list of those South remakes that have bitten the dust.


Shehzada directed by Rohit Dhawan is a perfect example of how a masala film should not be made. The original, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is no classic and has problematic aspects at its core.

Kartik Aaryan Shehzada
Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon in ‘Shehzada’. (X)

However, Trivikram’s directing skills combined with Allu Arjun’s swag majorly contributed to Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo being a smash hit. The music of Thaman S was an absolute chartbuster too.

A big problem with this toothless remake (Shehzada) is the absolute lack of conviction and energy. Rohit Dhawan badly faltered in delivering a proper entertainment package.

Though Shehzada is crisper with some unnecessary characters removed it did not help the film. Kriti Sanon as a hotshot lawyer is also less objectified when compared to Pooja Hedge.

Another hugely problematic aspect of Shehzada is the portrayal of the rich kid. In the original too, this was a problem but here, Rohit dumbed down Ankur Rathee’s Raj to a whole new level.

Kartik Aryan tried his best to fill the big shoes of Allu Arjun. Though he was reasonably good, he is no Allu Arjun!


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Aditya Roy Kapur’s ‘Gumraah’. (X)

Gumraah is another Hindi remake of the Tamil Film Thadam (2019). Director Vardhan Ketkar took a huge risk by casting Aditya Roy Kapur in a double role.

The only solo successful venture of Aditya Roy Kapur’s career so far has been Aashiqui 2 which became a big hit more due to the chartbuster album, particularly the song “Tum Hi Ho“.

Gumraah primarily suffered on two counts. The one is the fatigue factor of seeing many remakes. The other issue was its leading man.

Aditya Roy Kapur was given too much to handle. He was definitely earnest but that was not enough to lift the film. Mrunal Thakur and Ronit Roy were efficient in their respective parts but their roles could have been done with more meat.


bollywood duds 2023 Kangana Ranaut in Tejas
Kangana Ranaut in ‘Tejas’. (X)

Sarvesh Mewara’s Tejas was a major misfire in many ways. If we compare it to other successful patriotic films the thrilling moments can be counted on our fingertips. The women empowerment angle too was done far better in Gunjan Saxena (2020).

A big problem with Tejas is how it became an extended version of Kangana’s angry rants on social media. The perfect example of this is the pre-climax scene where Tejas (Kangana Ranaut) goes on a long rant about the sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers and how they go unnoticed. There is nothing heartfelt about the entire scene.

Much like her other release Chandramukhi 2, Tejas too ended up as an epic disaster. This female version of Uri (2019) did not strike a chord even with the hardcore BJP fans.

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.


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, 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.


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.


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.


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.

Year-End Roundup: Best Web Series Of 2022

Here are the four best web series from three different languages (Tamil, Telugu and English) that made a mark with their content on sensitive, social issues.

Anantham and Suzhal: The Vortex in Tamil and 9 Hours created by acclaimed director Krish Jagarlamudi in Telugu won the hearts of viewers.

As We See It, an English comedy-drama that follows the journey of three roommates with autism spectrum, caught the attention of the audience.


Anantham, directed by V Priya, is the story of a house narrated by a house.

The plot spans different decades and each episode comes with its genre. There is romance, comedy, tragedy and horror among others.

The best thing about the web series is the way Priya integrates these genres. As viewers, we go through various emotions with each segment.

For example, there is a segment called “Parvathy” that talks about a child abuse survivor who ends up meeting her abuser. Through this segment, an important topic was discussed.

The director throws light on the family ecosystem that made the child a victim and the passive aggression that silenced her.

Another interesting segment is “Lalitha”. She is a murderer chased by her past demons. However, to the son, she remains the noblest soul on earth. The jump scares are done well and on more than one occasion the audiences feel scary.

Anantham also makes a plea for accepting homosexuality. Ananth (Sampath Raj) is a famous homosexual writer. He was thrown out of the house at a young age by his father Venkatesan (Prakash Raj) upon discovering his sexual tendencies.

Ananth returns to his family home after a long time when the father is unwell.

Venkatesan is someone who oscillates from being a progressive dad to a man with homophobia but he eventually comes to love his son. All this was brought out wonderfully by both the director and the actors.

Suzhal: The Vortex

Suzhal: The Vortex is much more than just an investigative thriller. The series is written by the acclaimed director duo Puskhar-Gayatri and directed by Bramma and Anucharan.

Suzhal means environment. It has many layers and character arcs. Viewers are kept guessing till the end and the finale is gut-wrenching, to say the least.

The series starts in a small town Sambaloor which is preparing to celebrate “Mayana Kollai” (looting of the graveyard). It is a ritual that is closely associated with the Goddess Angalamman.

The devotees of Angalamman narrate the life of the Goddess in the form of songs.

While this is happening on one side, on the other side, a huge cement factory in the same town gets destroyed in a fire. Its union leader is Shanmugham (Parthiban) whose 15-year-old daughter Nila also goes missing the same day.

The task of solving both these mysteries is entrusted to Sakkarai (Kathir), a sub-inspector.

Regina (Shreya Reddy) is also a police officer. Regina’s son Adhisayam is a suspect in Nila missing case, which creates unrest between the families.

Nandini (Aishwarya Rajesh) is Nila’s sister. She returns home after a lay-off in her company. She decides to help Sakkarai in his investigation. As the story goes along some deeply buried secrets start tumbling out.

The first two episodes give the feeling that it is an investigative thriller but it soon ventures into a rather unexpected zone.

The screenplay is very deft and each character is compelling to watch, irrespective of his or her screen time.

Some of the issues addressed are superstition, police brutality, child sexual abuse, human sacrifice and mental health. All these are smartly integrated and at no point that the audiences feel a sense of being burdened with several things.

One of the most touching parts of Suzhal is concerning Aishwarya Rajesh’s Nandini.

She is someone who is dealing with repressed emotions and has to take therapy to get over them. Through her character, Bramma and Anucharan address the importance of mental health.

Writer duo Gayatri-Pushkar infuses a much-needed message in the climax. It is something that will stay with the audiences, especially parents and children.

The performances across the board are brilliant but Kathir and Aishwarya Rajesh stand out.

9 Hours

Director Krish Jagarlamudi created a niche for himself with films like GamyamGautamiputra Sathakarni and Konda Polam, among others. There is always an expectation of quality content when his name is attached.

The original story of 9 Hours is written by Malladi Venkata Krishnamurthy, a popular writer of yesteryears and adapted by Krish for this web series. It is directed by Niranjan Kaushik and Jacob Varghese.

As the title suggests the story is set in the time frame of nine hours. Three prisoners escape from jail to rob a bank but a simple bank robbery leads to a series of unexpected events.

The best bits of 9 Hours are easily the situations focusing on the hostage.

There are some unexpected revelations regarding those who are connected to this robbery. No one seems to be what they are. Some of the backstories are particularly well-fleshed out.

A special mention must be made of the character played by Ajay. His motivations are unclear for the most part. But when the suspense is revealed, it catches you off guard.

Ajay shines the brightest in this huge ensemble. The story for the most part takes place in the bank but the single location never comes across as a hindrance.

As We See it

This web show is created by Jason Katims. It is a heartwarming journey of three 20-something flat mates suffering from different spectrums of autism.

First up is Harrison (Albert Rutecki) who is the least independent of the three. He hates going outside because he is full of insecurities.

Next up is Violet (Sue Ann Pien) whose biggest desire is to have a boyfriend and lead a self-sufficient life.

The last among the three is Jack (Rick Glassman) who is the complete opposite of Harrison. He speaks whatever comes to his mind, irrespective of what the others around him feel.

As We See It shows how these three flatmates navigate family, friendships, careers and matters of the heart. They are guided by Mandy (Sosie Bacon).

At its heart, As We See It falls under a dramedy. A good dramedy needs to have the right balance between light and dramatic moments. Neither should outshine the other. Thankfully, Jason Katims got this mixture perfectly right.

The series has a feel-good nature to it but at the same time, the core issue is never watered down. It successfully addresses the different misconceptions about what is normal.

Out of the three flat mates, Violet has the most impact. Her equation with her brother Van gives the show some of its best moments.

The acting performances are top-notch across the board and add immensely to this well-made dramedy.

Year-End Roundup: Best Hindi Web Series Of 2022

The format of “web series” has given wings to several filmmakers to experiment more. A web series doesn’t necessarily need a big star.

Indeed, web shows have turned out to be a great platform for actors who generally don’t get the same scope in films.

For example, Delhi Crime Season-1 turned out to be a major boost for the career of Shefali Shah. It showed the actress in a different light.

Here’s the list of some of the Hindi web shows that caught our attention most this year:


In Hindi cinema, Punjab has been largely restricted to mustard fields, Bhangra dances and families living in big havelis. Thankfully, there have also been exceptions.

The most important of them is Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab.

Though the movie faced a lot of problems with the censor, as it showed the menace of drug abuse, it eventually came out with flying colours.

CAT, directed by Balwinder Singh Janjua, tackles two dark aspects of Punjab. One is militancy and the other is drugs.

Its central protagonist, Randeep Hooda, plays Garry aka Gurman Singh. In the past, he was roped in by the Punjab police to spy against the militants. Hence the name CAT.

He quits that line of work and starts leading a peaceful life. But the peace is short-lived as his younger brother is doing drugs, much like several other young men of Punjab.

This leaves Garry with no option other than to become a CAT again. This time, the mission is busting the big trafficking gang run by a political leader.

However, this is just the surface of the story, as many things are happening simultaneously. Revealing anything more about the plot would be inappropriate.

The best thing about CAT is juxtaposing militancy and drugs. These are serious issues which need nuance both from the director and the writer. Thankfully, Balwinder Singh and Co did a fantastic job.

CAT is filled with many backstories. These stories continue to unfold even in the last episodes and make the plot more engaging.

The past and the present of Gurman have also been superbly done. The audiences constantly root for Gurnam to come out safe.

Special mention to Abhishant Rana who plays the younger version of Randeep. He is simply terrific.

CAT gave Randeep a vast platform to display his histrionics and the actor didn’t disappoint one bit. With this performance, he showed once again why he deserves so much more.

Delhi Crime 2

The first season of Delhi Crime was a big winner on several counts. It was based on the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case, but it was much more than just the typical police manhunt.

Director Richie Mehta made some subtle yet effective points on the socio-political conditions we live in and how these conditions influence the police force.

Richie Mehta was immensely successful in humanising the police force by showcasing their humane and vulnerable side.

Expectations from Season 2 of the web series were naturally bigger. Shefali Shah returned as DCP Varthika. Some of the faces from Season 1 were also in this series, like Rasika Dugal.

Delhi Crime 2 focuses on the crimes committed by the much-feared “Kachchha Baniyan” gang.

Senior citizens living in gated communities are their target. The reason for their name is their dress while committing these crimes. All the members of this gang are dressed only in underclothes.

Additionally, their bodies are smeared with oil. As a result, it is difficult to catch them during a chase.

Season 2 of Delhi Crime is directed by Tanuja Chandra, with Richie Mehta as the creative head. Tanuja Chandra highlights an important class issue through this “Kachchha Baniyan” gang.

The director makes a strong statement on the injustice done to the underprivileged tribes and the prejudices attached to them. The show also addresses the disparities in society and how it leads to such crimes.

The aspect of social discrimination is reflected through Tillotama Shome playing Lata Solanki. Her character is used to make a point about how no one is a born criminal.

As Varthika, Shefali Shah took off from Season 1. She continued her winning form with a performance that adds to her versatility.

Rocket Boys

As the title suggests, Rocket Boys is essentially about India’s two eminent scientists: Dr Homi Bhabha and Dr Vikram Sarabhai (Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh in the series). This web show looks at the journey of India’s nuclear and space programme.

Director Abhay Pannu spans his story across three decades starting from the events of 1942.

A young Sarabhai is forced to return to India on account of the war in Britain. He has an ambition of sending rockets into space someday. With this in mind, he joins Homi Bhabha’s atomic research unit.  A deep bond develops between them.

With a story like this, it is easy to get into the zone of jingoism but thankfully, Abhay does not commit that mistake.

Instead, he focuses more on the distinct personalities of the two scientists. While Jim Sarbh as Homi Bhabha is more of an extrovert, Ishwak as Sarabhai is more of a calm-going man.

The juxtaposing of these two qualities makes the screenplay more riveting. Their journeys and the dreams of making it big are well captured by the director.

The Rocket Boys series does not confine itself to just science. It also looks at the politics of those times. The technical departments of the film did a fantastic job of recreating that period.

Both Jim Sarbh and Ishwak live their parts. Jim in particular does a swell job of capturing the madness of Homi Bhabha.

The women characters are thankfully not relegated to the background.

Regina Cassandra brings an old-world charm and her scenes with Ishwak are wonderful to watch. Saba Azad as the lawyer brings a certain fire to her part.

The Great Indian Murder

The Great Indian Murder is based on the book The Six Suspects written by Vikas Swarup, who also wrote the book Q&A, which was later made into Slumdog Millionaire. The book explored the different aspects of our society like the rampant corruption that runs through all the systems.

Vikas Swarup used the mode of investigative thriller to highlight this issue. For those who have not read the book, the story focuses on the murder of a playboy called Vicky Rai.

He is the spoiled son of a politician in Uttar Pradesh. He gets embroiled in a murder case. but thanks to his social status, he comes out scot-free.

Vicky throws a party to celebrate his acquittal in which he gets killed by a gunshot. Six guests are arrested on the grounds of suspicion.

Tigmanshu Dhulia adapted this story and did a good job for the most part. The best thing about his direction is his use of each character. Each one of them reveals a different side of our society.

My favourite one is the track by Shashank Arora. Though a thief, he has inherent decency in him and Tigmanshu did a very good job of exploring it.

The trajectory of his role has an emotional touch. His love for Vicky Rai’s sister and how he goes out of the way to help her leaves the viewers emotional.

Another track worth mentioning is that of Raghubir Yadav. His split personality gives the series some of its best moments.

The scenes where he plays Gandhian are very amusing. Tigmanshu takes several jibes through his character.

Needless to say, Shashank and Raghubir Yadav are the best performers in this ensemble.

Tigmanshu also made it effective by using the Rashomon approach. There is a lot of back and forth and the events keep on changing. Still, the tightness of the script makes sure that the audience does not get bored.

An underlining theme of the show is the manipulation of evidence for political mileage.

The Great Indian Murder web series has its share of flaws too. For example, Paoli Dam playing the actress is given a strong beginning but midway through, she disappears.

Also, the tying up of some subplots could have been better. Apart from these, it is a binge-worthy series.

Year-End Roundup: Best Telugu Movies Of 2022

In 2022, Tollywood saw movies from different genres putting up a great show at the box office.

There are a couple of highest-worldwide grossers, including SS Rajamouli’s star-studded RRR starring Jr NTR-Ram Charan Tej, Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata, and Pawan Kalyan-Rana Daggubati’s Bheemla Nayak.

But Nikhil Siddhartha-Anupama Parameswaran’s Karthikey 2 turned out to be the surprise package.

However, there are a few films that tugged at the heartstrings of Telugu audiences with their powerful content and thus deserve to be tagged as the best Telugu movies of 2022. Let’s take a quick look at the list:


In the last few years, Adivi Sesh significantly rose from the ranks, both as a writer and also as an actor. In 2022, he established himself as a formidable force.

Major was based on Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an Indian Army officer who was martyred while combating terrorists in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Along with being the protagonist, Adivi Sesh was also the writer of this project.

The story of Major doesn’t have any suspense since the audience is aware of what will happen at the end.

But that didn’t stop the audience from cheering on Sandeep when he combats the terrorists.

Through his writing, Sesh presented Sandeep as a wholesome personality and not just as a military man. As a result, the audience had a better emotional connection when the tragedy happened.

As an actor, Sesh grabbed the role with both hands. He nailed his act both in scenes of physical bravado and also as a caring son.

Hit: The Second Case

It was a sequel to the successful Hit: The First Case. Director Sailesh made sure that there was a proper connection between Hit 1 and Hit 2.

Nevertheless, Hit 2 was ahead of its prequel, both as a solid police procedural and also as a psychopath film. Unlike Major and Gudachari, Adivi Sesh did not write the story for this film.

Hit 2 also had a brief subplot where it critiques extrajudicial killings and their celebration.

It is only a brief mention but it makes the movie a cut above the other films of this genre.

Thrillers aren’t new for Sesh but the actor made sure that there is something novel in his performance.

Sita Ramam

Hanu Raghavapudi’s Sita Ramam can be labelled as a poetic love story.

There is a lot to like about this Dulqer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur-starrer. The two not only shined individually but their chemistry was also top-notch.

As Lieutenant Ram, Dulqer turned on his charm fully and made the audiences fall in love with him.

Mrunal Thakur was the surprise package. She not only looked stunning but also delivered a wonderful performance.

The director smartly combined the love angle with the Indo-Pak conflict. There are ample twists and turns to keep you hooked and it is difficult to be not moved by the ending.

The supporting characters led by Rashmika and Sumanth were also a delight to watch.

Music and cinematography departments also made Sita Ramam an enriching experience.

The film had its share of flaws; the case in point being the comedy track of Vennela Kishore. Also, Mrunal’s character doesn’t de-age even one bit!

But still, Sita Ramam is a feast for those who like intense love stories.


Directed by Abhimanyu Tadimeti, Bhamakalapam is an interesting garnishing of elements such as crime, greed and religion.

The plot is centred on a Faberge egg that is worth ₹200 core. At the beginning itself, the audiences understand this egg has been stolen and gets lost again.

Bhamakapalam is not just an engrossing thriller but it also makes an important statement about finding the god within.

The underlying message is not to be misled by someone who uses religion as a weapon. This message isn’t particularly new; nevertheless, it’s relevant.

Anupama Mohan (Priya Mani) is a woman of many talents. She is a homemaker who is also famous for her cooking videos.

There is also an inner Sherlock Holmes in her which comes out early on. She tries to expose the extramarital affair of her neighbour. But all this backfires!

The husband takes a promise that she wouldn’t do her detective work again but fate has other plans.

The best aspect of Bhamakalapam is how the director builds suspense around the egg. Audiences are constantly wondering about what is so special about this Faberge egg that it is worth ₹200 core.

The film also benefits immensely from Priya Mani’s spot-on performance. She imbibed the curiosity of Anupama.

Her scenes with house help Shilpa (Sharanya) are a delight to watch. Sharanya shined both in the comic bits and also where she is required to show tension.

Ante Sundaraniki

In 2022, Actor Nani came up with just one movie: Ante Sudaraniki. Well, it was quite unusual; for, he delivers a film every three-four months.

In Ante Sudaraniki, the actor teamed up with Malayali beauty Nazriya Nazim. This romantic comedy is helmed by young director Vivek Athreya.

Though the reception at the box office for this sensible flick was mixed during its theatrical release, Ante Sundaraniki surely makes it to the list of best Telugu movies of 2022.

Nani rose to stardom with romantic comedies and he carries them with ease. Thus, he comes up with his best for Ante Sundaraniki. Nazriya Nazim joining him makes the proceedings even more interesting.

Nani appears as Sundara Prasad from an orthodox Brahmin family. Nazriya plays Leela Thomas from a Christian family.

They leave no stone unturned in convincing their parents of their interfaith marriage, but only land in bigger problems which, in turn, leave the audience in splits.

In all, the romantic comedy narrates the struggles of an interfaith couple in a comical way.

Besides the lead pair, the film features a strong support cast like Anupama Parameswaran, Nadhiya, Naresh, Rohini, and Azhagam Perumal.

Virata Parvam

Underrated Virata Parvam deserves serious film buffs’ attention

Rana Daggubati and Sai Pallavi-starrer Virata Parvam gained quite a lot of attention even before its release, owing to its storyline and casting.

But it could not sustain its momentum after hitting the theatres, as many considered it to be too serious a film for regular audiences.

Directed by Venu Udugula, Virata Parvam is set in the backdrop of Naxalism and tracks the heart-wrenching story of Vennela (Sai Pallavi). She falls for Naxal leader Ravi Shankar (Rana Daggubati) and gets attracted to the Naxalism ideology, which tragically ends her life.

Telangana was the hotbed for Naxalism in the 1980s and 1990s. Virata Parvam depicts the various facets of the extremist movement, riding on the love story of the lead pair.

Sai Pallavi’s acting prowess and her ability to carry conflicting emotions effortlessly keep the audience engaged throughout the movie.

Film lovers who are interested in serious stuff will find Virata Parvam engaging.


Aishwarya Lekshmi’s Ammu takes a new stance on an age-old issue.

This is a low-profile movie which was released without much fanfare but held the audience in thrall with its intensity later.

Starring the talented Aishwarya Lekshmi in the title role, Ammu depicts the story of a naive and hapless married woman who becomes a victim of domestic violence.

Films on domestic violence are not new to the Telugu audience. But the way director Charukesh Sekar dealt with it makes Ammu a special movie.

Aishwarya Lekshmi’s impressive portrayal of a woman stuck in an abusive marriage added to the director’s vision, making it to the list of must-watch movies of 2022.

While this realistic film has its shortcomings, its brilliance and honesty won over the audiences.

Being the queen of Ammu, Aishwarya Lekshmi grabs all the credit. However, Naveen Chandra plays on par with her. He does an excellent job as an abusive husband.

Bobby Simha’s presence further adds to the impact. Interestingly, Ammu is Amazon Prime Video’s first original Telugu film.

Urvasivo Rakshasivo

The genre of romantic comedy/drama is one of the most overused genres in cinemas across languages. Only two kinds of endings are possible: One happy and the other sad.

But a well-made rom-com is always welcome, like Urvasivo Rakshasivo. It is the remake of the Tamil film Pyaar Prema Kaadhal.

Urvasivo Rakshasivo deals with the conflict between live-in relationships and marriage. The boy wants marriage but the girl wants a live-in.

The most refreshing aspect of this movie is the characterisation of Anu Emanuel’s Sindhu and the wonderful performance of the actress.

There are occasions when Sindhu may come across as both stubborn and spoiled. However, the audience also understands from where Sindhu is coming and the reason for her stubbornness in not wanting to marry.

Director Rakesh Sasi doesn’t tamper with the soul of Sindhu, at any point, even when the lead pair drifts apart.

Most importantly, the happy ending of the story doesn’t come at the cost of squashing Sindhu’s career dreams.

The film also never gets preachy. The scenes depicting the live–in relationship are peppered with much entertainment. Both Sunil and Vennela Kishore brought the house down with their comic timing.