My search for feel-good cinema took me to Telugu films this week. I have been consciously looking for mood-lifting regional films in order to escape the boredom and anxiety of the lockdown. Narrowing down to those perfect 5 happy movies is a difficult task. It is a time taking process too – I would start watching a film and not get hooked to it and drop it midway.
A lot of suggestions that came up were the hero-worshipping action dramas, which, no doubt, are quite enjoyable. But my idea of feeling good this lockdown isn’t watching Prabhas throw 10 men into the air with one kick. I have been consciously avoiding those to find films that are more realistic and grounded. Films that are funny and refreshing without over the top drama.
Here are my picks from Telugu cinema.
Whenever you ask someone for suggestions for good feel-good movies in Telugu, the first name that comes up is Bommarillu. Siddharth plays the quintessential lover boy who has his heart set on a girl but is too scared to tell his father. Prakash Raj is fantastic as the super controlling, helicopter father who only has his children’s best interests at heart, but unfortunately, has no clue that they resent him. Genelia D’Souza as the cheerful Hasini is refreshing, her innocence lights up the mood every time she is on screen. Lively music, cute romantic moments, funny sticky situations all lead up to an ending you’ll be rooting for. The film will cheer you up for sure.
Happy Days (YouTube)
What better way to cheer you up than reliving your college days? This film will take you back to the time when Parker pens were prized possessions. The film focuses on a bunch of engineering college first-years who navigate the challenge of campus life, overbearing seniors, strict teachers while transforming from protected teenagers to independent individuals. Varun Sandesh and Tamannaah were much fresher faces back then; their college romance, backed by charming music, create some of the most pleasant moments in the film. Telugu cinema had a dearth of good coming-of-age films and director Sekhar Kammula more than made up for it with Happy Days, which was a huge success when it released in 2007.
Oohalu Gusagusalade (Disney+ Hotstar)
Srini Avasarala's directorial debut will surprise you with its unconventional treatment of a love story. Venky (Naga Shaurya) and Prabhavathi (Raashi Khanna) meet and fall in love Vizag when they are barely 20 years old. Misunderstandings lead to separation for several years, but their paths cross again when Prabhavathi is looking at marriage proposals. Venky, in order to fulfill his father’s dream to become a news reader, sacrifices his love to help his boss Uday (Srini Avasarala, also the director of the film) win her heart. The film has various hilarious situations, ego tussles between the lead and romantic moments when Venky and Prabha come together. There’s no overt expression of masculinity as both men try to impress the woman. There are bike rides in the sun, romantic moments by the beach and the usual lovers’ tiff, but nothing so dramatic so as to alienate the audience. A very non-conforming rom-com.
Fidaa (Amazon Prime Video)
Another Sekhar Kammula film, Fidaa uses the age-old trope of ‘rich boy from US falls in love with the village belle’ and turns it on its head. The heroine, very predictably, does not want to leave her home and go abroad. But the film gives the story a fine feminist end, unlike regular fairy-tales. Prince Charming has to agree to his bride’s terms. It’s quite funny to see Varun Tej's 6.5 feet physique tongue-tied more than once in front of Sai Pallavi's petite frame. She falls for him in spite of herself, teases him in public at her sister’s wedding, all of which is extremely delightful to watch. Varun's 'good looks, good looks, and good looks' sort of makes up for his uni-dimensional character and lack of acting skills. He is the good-est guy you’ll ever meet. The music is just perfect for a film like this and makes the experience more enjoyable.
Dear Comrade (Amazon Prime Video)
Any feel-good movie should, by default, have beautiful music. And Dear Comrade hits the ball out of the park in that department. I have been playing the songs on loop ever since the movie released, and during this lockdown, finally found time to watch the movie as well. Truth be told, its seemed Vijay Deverakonda with his anger issues in the initial scenes was still operating in the Arjun Reddy zone. But it does get better, because here he is a rebel with a cause. He only lashes out against injustice. Rashmika Mandanna complements him perfectly, and their romance unfolds in the sweetest way possible, with lots of romantic songs composed by Justin Prabhakaran.
Stay tuned for more recommendations from another regional language next week.