2021: What’s in store from Telugu cinema?

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The story of Major Sundeep Unnikrishnan to a sharp shooter from rural Telangana, a look at what Telugu film directors are presenting in 2021

Telugu cinema is hoping to lure the audience back into cinema halls with a bouquet of films for Sankranti in mid-January 2021. The line-up includes Krack, Alludu Adhurs, Red and Bangaru Bullodu. The first few months of 2021 are likely to witness a partially virtual and partially real-time engagement in theatres for movie buffs, depending on whether the pandemic shows signs of ebbing and, of course, the impending vaccination.

The spectacle films led by big stars will continue to be around. But also in the works are projects helmed by promising and emerging directors who got noticed for their storytelling methods. A look at what some of these directors are now working on.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and there are likely to be a few surprises, which makes the movies an exciting place to be.

A-list projects under production

  • SS Rajamouli’s RRR headlined by NTR, Ram Charan and Alia Bhatt
  • Sekhar Kammula’s Love Story with Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi
  • Sukumar’s Pushpa with Allu Arjun
  • Koratala Siva’s Acharya headlined by Chiranjeevi
  • Mohana Krishna Indraganti’s next film stars Sudheer Babu and Krithi Shetty, following which he has a project with Vijay Deverakonda
  • Puri Jagannadh’s Fighter starring Vijay Deverakonda
  • Krish Jagarlamudi’s period drama starring Pawan Kalyan. Prior to that, the actor will be seen in Vakeel Saab directed by Venu Sriram.
  • Venkatesh will reprise Dhanush’s roles in the Asuran remake Narappa directed by Srikanth Addala. The actor will team up again with Varun Tej for F3.
  • New zone: Samantha will make her web series debut with the new season of The Family Man and Tamannaah stars in the Telugu web series 11th Hour.
  • Aiming high: Hoping to consolidate his post-Baahubali fame, Prabhas has signed on more pan-Indian projects — Radhe Shyam, Aadi Purush and an untitled film by Nag Ashwin.
  • Director Prabhu Solomon’s Aranya (Kadan in Tamil) is also a pan-Indian film awaiting release. This story of a forest man starring Rana Daggubati is titled Haathi Mere Saathi in Hindi.

Sashi Kiran Tikka

The director has joined hands again with his Goodachari actor-writer Adivi Sesh for the Hindi-Telugu bilingual Major, to narrate the story of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who saved as many lives as he could during the 2008 26/11 attacks. Co-produced by G Mahesh Babu Entertainment (GMB), Sony Pictures and A+S Movies, it is the first non-Mahesh Babu starrer from GMB.

Gowtam Tinnanuri

He made an impressive debut with Malli Raava (2017) and further established himself with Jersey (2019). Gowtam has now wrapped up the Hindi remake of Jersey, which stars Shahid Kapoor. The story of an ageing cricketer making a last ditch attempt to secure a place in the national team, and thereby fulfil a promise made to his son, hopes to appeal to the national audience this year.

Venkatesh Maha

After Care of Kancharapalem and Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, Venkatesh Maha announced a project titled Su Mathi. But prior to that, Maha is working on another project and is keen to break the pattern of the small town, rural setting of his previous films.

Venu Udugula

Sai Pallavi in ‘Virata Parvam’  

A period drama that’s set in the backdrop of naxalism, Virata Parvam has evoked curiosity. Venu Udugula’s film stars Rana Daggubati, Sai Pallavi, Nandita Das and Priyamani. Udugula will also be producing a web series through which the Telugu literary work, Maidanam by Chalam, will be adapted to the screen.

Nag Ashwin

The Yevade Subramaniam (2013) and Mahanati (2018) director is working on an ambitious project starring Prabhas and Deepika Padukone. That aside, look out for Jaathi Ratnalu produced by Vyjayanthi Movies and directed by debutant Anudeep, starring Naveen Polishetty, Rahul Ramakrishna and Priyadarshi.

Vivek Athreya

Vivek Athreya and Nani’s ‘Ante Sundaraniki’

Vivek Athreya and Nani’s ‘Ante Sundaraniki’  

Mental Madhilo (2017) and Brochevarevarura (2019) established him as one of the exciting emerging directors in Telugu cinema. His next film is Ante Sundaraniki with Nani and Nazriya.

Rahul Sankrityan

The Taxiwaala (2018) director has begun working on his next, titled Shyam Singha Roy, starring Nani, Sai Pallavi, Krithi Shetty and Madonna Sebastian. The story is set in Kolkata.

Shiva Nirvana

Nani in ‘Tuck Jagadish’

Nani in ‘Tuck Jagadish’  

The Ninnu Kori (2017) and Majili (2019) director’s next, Tuck Jagadish, is set to welcome viewers to the theatres in summer. The first look poster of Nani promises a class-meets-mass storytelling.

Prasanth Varma

The genre bender Awe (2018) and Kalki (2019) later, Prasanth Varma has completed filming Zombie Reddy, which is being projected as Telugu cinema’s first zombie film. The story will unfold in a post-COVID scenario in Kurnool.

Nagesh Kukunoor

Keerthy Suresh in ‘Good Luck Sakhi’

Keerthy Suresh in ‘Good Luck Sakhi’  

Kukunoor isn’t an emerging filmmaker. He was the poster boy of independent cinema of the late 90s and 2000s. However, 2021 will be a homecoming of sorts with his first Telugu film, Good Luck Sakhi, which stars Keerthy Suresh as an aspiring shooter from rural Telangana. Also stars Aadhi Pinisetty, Jagapathi Babu and Rahul Ramakrishna.

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