2017 was a glorious year for Telugu cinema with many hits, new stars on the block, and celebrities who made news for all the right and wrong reasons.
2017 couldn’t have been a better year for Telugu cinema with films like Baahubali 2 and Khaidi No 150 setting the cash registers ringing.
From SS Rajamouli’s epic drama to Sekhar Kammula’s pleasantly surprising Fidaa, it was a year which had something for everyone.
Here are 10 things that hogged the limelight this year in the Telugu film industry.
Team Baahubali 2 SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus
Baahubali 2 was the biggest film to have emerged from Tollywood in 2017. It broke the myth that there can’t be a pan-Indian film in contemporary Indian cinema.
From Punjab to Kerala, the film received a unanimous thumbs up from the critics and audiences alike. But more than that, the success turned SS Rajamouli into a national treasure and for once, a Telugu film soared high on a national scale.
The film, starring Prabhas, Anushka, Rana Daggubati, Tamannaah, Ramya Krishna and Sathyaraj, was hailed for its storytelling, visual effects, production design, music. No wonder, it went on to amass a jaw-dropping Rs 1600 crores and more at the box-office.
In Hindi alone, the film crossed Rs 500 crores (nett), a first for any film in Bollywood so far.
Chiranjeevi returns to the arena; Rajasekhar defies all odds
Megastar Chiranjeevi returned to the silver screen for his first full-fledged role in more than nine years with Khaidi No 150. Directed by VV Vinayak, the film was a remake of Kaththi; however, it was the sight of Chiranjeevi dancing to the tunes of ‘Ammadu Let’s Do Kummudu’ which turned into euphoria across cinema halls in January this year.
The film also proved that Chiranjeevi’s mojo hasn’t diminished at all despite the long hiatus from films. On the other hand, 2017 was also a special year for actor Rajasekhar who scored his first hit in more than 15 years or so, thanks to Praveen Sattaru’s PSV Garuda Vega. The film’s success was the answer to all the critics and naysayers who questioned Praveen Sattaru about why he was working with Rajasekhar in first place.
The drug scandal
Tollywood faced the heat from a special investigation team (SIT), which questioned several high-profile celebrities including Ravi Teja, Puri Jagannadh, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan, Subba Raju to name a few.
The events leading up to this interrogation were dramatic to say the least. Soon after news broke out that hundreds of teenagers in some of the most renowned schools of Hyderabad had become victims of drug abuse, a drug dealer is also said to have named several celebrities from the Telugu film industry as his clients.
Days after questioning all these celebs, the SIT didn’t arrest anyone. But it did send a strong signal that drug abuse is a criminal offence.
Balakrishna pulls off a big surprise
His 100th film Gautamiputra Satakarni got everyone talking about the actor’s ability to pull off a historical drama and it went on to become the biggest hit in Balakrishna’s career. But that’s hardly the most surprising news that we heard about the actor in 2017.
In November, when the AP state government announced its Nandi awards for 2014, 2015 and 2016, it came as a huge shock to everyone that Balakrishna was chosen as the Best Actor for his film Legend. Incidentally, the film also won the Nandi Award for Best Feature Film in a year when other films like Manam and Race Gurram too were in contention. Let’s just say, we were as surprised as you are.
Pawan Kalyan’s political run begins
After nearly three years, Pawan Kalyan finally became quite active in the political scenario. Right from meeting students to understand their aspirations to addressing an august gathering at Harvard, 2017 was a busy year for Pawan Kalyan.
The actor-and-politician also outlined the principles of his political party ‘Jana Sena’ and he began an unique recruitment drive, where aspirants were required to clear a written exam to become a member of the party. That’s not all. Pawan Kalyan was quite forthright about his political views, even if it meant standing up to TDP and BJP’s policies at the state and the central level.
Dil Raju’s double hattrick
Dil Raju, one of Telugu cinema’s biggest producers, is on cloud nine and quite rightfully so. He created a sensation by scoring six hits back-to-back in 2017 alone, a unique record in recent times.
No other producer has had such a glorious run in a single year. Period. Starting from Sharwanand’s Shatamanam Bhavati, Dil Raju tasted success with Nenu Local, Duvvada Jagannadham, Fidaa, Raja The Great, and finally MCA. The producer even celebrated the success of this defining moment in his career by inviting all the actors and directors, who worked with him in 2017, and felicitated each one of them at a grand ceremony.
When Spyder was first announced, with Mahesh Babu playing the lead role, the general consensus was that it just couldn’t go wrong. After all, it was being directed by AR Murugadoss, who had films like Thuppaki and Kaththi to his credit in recent times. The film was produced with a budget of more than Rs 100 crores and it was billed as one of the most expensive south Indian films at the time of its release.
However, the result came as a rude shock to everyone who was betting big on the film. The story, which was based on an intelligence officer’s race against time to stop a psycho from wrecking havoc in a city, didn’t resonate with the masses and it was one of the biggest flops of the year at the box-office.
It was a fairytale wedding that was made of the stuff of dreams. That Naga Chaitanya and Samantha were going to get married in 2017 was on everyone’s mind, and the wedding itself lived up to the buzz surrounding the grand ceremony.
Prior to his son’s wedding, Nagarjuna had told the media that it’s going to be a private affair with only close friends and family members attending the event. The wedding took place in Goa, and later, the family threw a grand reception in Chennai and Hyderabad.
If we had to pick one moment which made everyone smile, it was the sight of Naga Chaitanya and Samantha saying ‘I Do’ at the wedding ceremony.
A new ray of hope
For the longest time, Telugu film industry had come under the scanner for not offering strong characters to women actors. However, 2017 had a different story to tell. In Sai Pallavi, Anushka, Shalini Pandey, Nivetha Thomas, Nivetha Pethuraj, Eesha, and Rakul Preet, the industry found a new ray of hope.
While Anushka turned her role (Devasena) in Baahubali 2 into a warrior queen who commanded respect and admiration in equal measure, Sai Pallavi made us fall in love with her onscreen persona in Fidaa. And then, there were others like Nivetha Thomas and Nivetha Pethuraj who delivered strong performances in Ninnu Kori and Mental Madhilo respectively.
Rakul Preet too made her mark with her role in Rarandoi Veduka Choodham.
A new star is born
If one had to pick the Best Actor in 2017, it all narrows down to two choices - Prabhas (Baahubali 2) and Vijay Devarakonda (Arjun Reddy). Baahubali 2 was testimony to Prabhas’ unrelenting faith in SS Rajamouli and his portrayal of the lead character, Amarendra Baahubali was his best yet.
And then, the Telugu film industry found a new star in Vijay Devarakonda who stunned everyone in Arjun Reddy. The sight of a man who broke every rule that defines what a Telugu film hero can do on screen is hard to forget after watching Vijay hogging the limelight in Arjun Reddy. Clearly, the contest will go down the wire between the two.
Some news sounds like rumours even though if they are damn true. Paying nearly 1 crore for a story is not new in Tollywood but it depends on to whom it is being paid. And suddenly if some director who has no hit to his name says he got 1 crore for the story it is not at all believable.
Recently a rumour starting doing rounds in the Film Industry that Allu Arjun has paid around 1 crore for a story. It happens to be a script narrated by director Anil Kanneganti who carved films like Asadhyudu, Mr Nookayya and recently Sandeep Kishan's Run. The rumours say that Allu Arjun was impressed a lot by the story and decided to buy it for 1 crore rupees.
Generally, writers like Vakkantam Vamsi, Koratala Siva (for Brindavanam) and Kona Venkat charged 1 crore nearly for many scripts they provided, but this is the first time we are hearing a director selling his script that way. One wonders what is that story that really fascinated him to invest such a money. Or is this just a rumour?
Sources close to Bunny have ruled out this 1 crore rumors though they haven't denied that the stylish hero has listened to a narration given by Anil Kanneganti. Let's see what more we will hear about this script in the coming days.
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