KOLLYWOOD 2017



2017 was another healthy year for Kollywood with films breaking boundaries and rules that are perceived in terms of story, production and even box office records. This post is dedicated to all the film makers, technicians and actors who worked tirelessly to deliver their passionate films. The rankings and awards are solely based on my opinions.

20) CHENNAI 2 SINGAPORE


Consensus:
After 6 years of struggle, a bunch of new comers, delivered a fresh product that makes anyone tear, laughing their hearts out. Technically sleek and crisp, ‘Chennai 2 Singapore’ ended up as one of the notable new age film in 2017.

Celluloid Meter:
3.25/5






19) ORU KIDYAIN KARUNAI MANU

Consensus:
Part black comedy, part suspense thriller, part slice-of-rural-life drama, ‘Oru Kidayin Karunai Manu’ is fun ride about a village who goes on a trip to their neighbouring place to offer a goat as a sacrifice with a newlywed couple. The humour is distinctly rustic and instantly chuckle-worthy based on the innocence of the village people. Led by Viddarth, the film mostly had unknown actors that made the film more believable and grounded. Might not be a film for all but this simple art house comedy certainly had its heart at the right place.

Celluloid Meter:
3.25/5





18) MARAGATHA NAANAYAM

Consensus:
‘Maragatha Nanayam’ treated the horror comedy trend with a fantasy twist flowing with a puzzle like, 80s comedy. Packed with tons of engaging situational comedy, Aadhi delivered his much-needed commercial hit with this film.

Celluloid Meter:
3.25/5






17) KAVAN

Consensus:
Even though‘Kavan’ was not as crisp as K.V.Anand’s previous films, the message about media’s ugly truth and politics was noteworthy. Once again, the filmmaker proved that he can balance substance and style with great comfort.
Celluloid Meter:
3.25/5






16) KADUGU

Consensus:
After the slip in '10 Endrathukulla’, director Vijay Milton came back strongly with a hard hitting raw drama that had excellently written characters and dialogues. Bharath made a great comeback with a meaty negative role while Rajakumaran (actress Devayani’s husband) proved his mettle with a solid performance.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





15) SATHYA
Consensus:
Kshanam (2016), a Telugu film which released almost two years ago, was lauded for its neatly arranged intriguing sequences. Remaking an intense suspense thriller isn't an easy job. Sathya emerged as a faithful remake by keeping the same intensity of the source material. After a long struggle for a good platform, Sibiraj proved himself as an intense actor. Ramya Nambeesan as the distraught mother was impressive and the song, ‘Yavvana’ entered everyone’s heart instantly.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





14) KUTTRAM 23
Consensus:
Only a few medical thrillers in Kollywood has escaped the commercial trap and presented stories that are logical, factually accurate and yet engaging. ‘Kuttram 23’ is one such important film that was both thrilling and entertaining. Director Arivazhagan (Eeram fame) proved again that he is one of the finest young writers that Tamil cinema has.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





13) THEERAN ADHIGARAM ONDRU
Consensus:
Partially based on the Operation Bawaria that happened at the timeline of 1996-2006, Sathuranga Vettai fame director Vinoth ensured that the main theme of patriotism and the sacrifices of a policemen is depicted strongly without any preachy tone. Backed up by substantial research, the film turned out to be one of the most hard-hitting cop flick in recent time. ‘Theeran’ also brought out the intense actor in Karthi after a long time.
Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





12) MERSAL

Consensus:
After a stupendous success with ‘Theri’, director Atlee and Vijay joined hands again to deliver a colourful commercial treat, not only for the fans but any Indian cinema lover. A.R.Rahman’s power packed tunes conquered the hearts of all Tamil audience worldwide as well. After the disappointing show in Bairavaa early this year, Vijay bounced back as a great performer in ‘Mersal’, donning three different roles. ‘Mersal’ also marked Vijay’s highest box office record in is career with a revenue of about 250 crores.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





11) MEYAADHA MAAN
Consensus:
Marketed as ‘Royapuram La La Land’, the film lived up to its quirkiness, whipping up a realistic, fun romantic musical based in the slums. Santosh Narayanan returned to his raw ‘gaana’ tunes after a long time while Vaibhav, Vivek Prasanna and Indhuja impressed with solid performances. When Kollywood is racking up dark films on love failure, ‘Meyaadha Maan’ treated the topic with a lighter tone, stealing the hearts of many youths.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5






10) PA PANDI
Consensus:
Dhanush has proved us countless times how much of a fine actor he is. But ‘Pa Pandi’ showed us how much of a good writer and director he is with such a matured story and execution. Based on the line of yesteryear romance and filial piety, the light hearted bitter sweet film was nothing short of a feel-good drama. Raj Kiran and Revathi’s seasoned performance captured many hearts while music composer Sean Roldan stepped up in the big league of music composers by delivering a soulful album.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5






9) AVAL
Consensus:
In a time where, Kollywood is dominated by template driven horror comedy films, ‘Aval’ has broken the dry ground through a solid, sleek supernatural thriller boasts with technical finesse. The plot might not be completely original, but the treatment and screenplay kept the audience at the edge of their seats becoming one of the sleeper hits of the year. The idea of ‘God vs Antichrist’ is something new to the region and the film maker has projected that with great impact.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5






8) 8 THOTTAKKAL

Consensus:
Coming from the school of Mysskin film making, debut director Sri Ganesh crafted a highly engaging cop thriller on the lines of his mentor’s ‘Anjathey’. Revolving around the emotional thread of an angry common man in the society, Sri Ganesh delivered a very strong message in his first film itself. M.S.Baskar’s arresting performance was widely appreciated as well.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





7) ARAMM
Consensus:
This effective socio-political thriller based on a single case investigated by a IAS officer, clicked with the audience instantly. Lady Super Star Nayanthara carried her majestic role excellently (kudos to dubbing artiste Deepa Venkat as well) together with realistic performances by Sunu Lakshmi and Ramachandran Durairaj. From the apathy of government officials to the greed of power-hungry politicians and the urban-rural divide, director Gopi Nainar makes his stand clear and sharp.

Celluloid Meter:
3.5/5





6) TARAMANI

Consensus:
Unlike general Tamil movies that preach more than visually show the oppression towards women, in ‘Taramani’, Ram literally etches a realistic societal environment that shows it’s dismal of an open, modern single mother. Even though it was released after three years of completion, the film’s content and technical value was fresh and relevant. With soulful songs by Yuvan and excellent performances by Andrea and Vasanth, ‘Taramani’ proved that Ram is one of the most serious contemporary
film makers we have in Kollywood.

Celluloid Meter:
3.75/5






5) MAANAGARAM


Consensus:
This hyperlink thriller was one of the biggest surprise of the year. With no big cast or crew, the film managed to etch an impact on the hearts of the viewers, addressing how one’s actions in the society can have a chain effect, creating a catastrophe. With a simple message, complex screenplay and fresh treatment, ‘Maanagaram’ went on to become one of the most profitable ventures of the year.

Celluloid Meter:
4/5





4) KURANGU BOMMAI

Consensus:
Another realistic nail-biting thriller that was released in a small scale this year. Even though it was not a big revenue minter, the film’s engrossing screenplay was talked about widely. Who can ever forget Bharathiraja’s heart wrenching monologue revelation in the climax.

Celluloid Meter:
4/5





3) ARUVI

Consensus:
‘Aruvi’ was no doubt the biggest surprise of the year with it’s bold content, remarkable debutant Aditi Balan and gripping screenplay. The anger that the film maker had on the patriarchal society was very well portrayed on screen and everyone embraced the film has Tamil cinema’s gem. Another
well deserved sleeper hit of the year.
Celluloid Meter:
4/5





2) VIKRAM VEDHA

Consensus:
After delivering two unique films (Oram Po & Va Quarter Cutting), director duo Pushkar Gayathri gave us the most gripping thriller of the year with two versatile actors, Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi. As a faithful adaptation of ‘Vikramaditya & Vedalam’ story, the film not only boasted with a strong content but also had a matured, detailed direction, technical finesse and an arresting musical backing.

Celluloid Meter:
4.25/5

1) BAAHUBALI 2
Consensus:
Not just because this film created box office records in Indian cinema, ‘Baahubali’ clinches the first spot due to many factors that elevated the film making standards in the region. With an universal story and emotions, this film communicated its themes not only to Indians but also to other Asian audiences. It didn’t have any complex story telling but the fantasy elements that were dealt were uniquely rooted to the Indian culture, yet it connected with all sections of audience. Be it the epic fights, the majestic performances by the star-studded cast or the detailed art direction and visual effects, the film had almost perfect blend of everything. Yes, it is a bilingual and not a dubbed film, qualifying as a Tamil film as well. It created a benchmark for all visionaries and opened a possibility ground for film makers to execute their ambitious stories. Undoubtedly, this film's success will be etched as an important milestone in the history of Indian cinema.

Celluloid Meter:
4.25/5

CELLULOID CRITIC's PICK

The following list compromises a few categories of talents whom I wish to mention and also pick the best out of the lot. Do note that our nominees are not arranged by any order.

PERFORMANCES

BEST LEAD ACTOR:
Prabhas (Baahubali 2)
Vijay Sethupathi (Vikram Vedha)
Vijay (Mersal)
Karthi (Theeran Adhigaram Ondru)
Raj Kiran (Pa Pandi)


Vijay Sethupathi stole the limelight this year, walking on a thin line between good and bad by donning the complex Vedha character in ‘Vikram Vedha’. All the actors in our list did prove their mettle with different, intense characters. But I felt it is a bold move to deglamourize himself and act as a deadly villain in his current peak period of his career.

BEST LEAD ACTRESS:
Nayanthara (Aramm)


Ramya Nambeesan (Sathya)




Andrea (Taramani)
















Aditi Balan (Aruvi)
























 


Anushka (Baahubali 2)

 


The biggest shocker and find of the year is undoubtedly our Aditi Balan from ‘Aruvi’ who impressed us with her realistic acting and natural looks. Even though we had strong performers like Nayanthara and Anushka in the list, Aditi Balan essayed a role that was the most layered and detailed than others. The physical transformation for the climax showed that Aditi is a serious actor who is here to stay for a long time to come.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Madhavan (Vikram Vedha)



Prasanna (Thiruttu Payale 2)
















SJ Suryah (Spyder)

Vivek Prasanna (Meyadha Maan)













M.S.Baskar (8 Thottakkal)







We all know that S.J.Suryah’s first love was acting. However he became a director first. In these 2 years, he has evolved greatly as a complete actor and ‘Spyder’ was another important milestone in his career that pushed him to a bigger limelight. As an intelligent, psychotic villain, S.J.Suryah overshadowed the protagonist, Mahesh Babu at many scenes. ‘Mersal’ was a great follow up but I felt his character in  ‘Spyder’ was more defined and detailed with an unimaginable backstory.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Revathi (Pa Pandi)
Sshivada (Adhe Kangal)
Anisha Victor (Aval)
 
Indhuja (Meyaadha Maan)
Ramya Krishnan (Baahubali 2)



































This was one of the most difficult categories this year with very strong and seasoned actors in the list. However, I felt that Sshivada’s character sketch in ‘Adhe Kangal’ was shocking and bold. Donning two characters that are extremely opposite is difficult but Sshivada essayed convincingly without going overboard. Who can forget the ‘Thanthira’ song revelation and the climax fight scene she has with the protagonist?

BEST DIRECTOR:

Arun Prabu Purushothaman (Aruvi)

Atlee (Mersal)

Pushkar-Gayathri (Vikram Vedha)

S.S.Rajamouli (Baahubali 2)

Gopi Nainar (Aramm)


With many big directors fumbling this year, there were many new comers who gave impactful films than the seasoned ones. Rajamouli made us proud with his mega budget fantasy film while film makers like Gopi Nainar and Arun made a dream debut. However, I felt that Pushkar-Gayathri not only grasped the story tightly but also added details to each department to bring their vision alive. The production design, music and cinematography were packed with juxtapositions and symbolism of portraying the good and evil. Every detail was tiresomely engineered by these two excellent film makers.


TECHNICIANS

BEST ALBUM:

Anirudh (Velaikkaran)

A.R.Rahman (Kaatru Veliyidai)

Santosh Narayanan (Meyaadha Maan)





A.R.Rahman (Mersal)



Sam CS (Vikram Vedha)


My pick is A.R.Rahman for ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’. Even though the film was not very strong in content, technically, it was one of the best films this year. The music kept the insipid story afloat. Mani Ratnam and A.R.Rahman’s combination never failed and this was no exception. The songs were experimental, soulful and were portrayed even more magically on screen.

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE:

Sam CS (Vikram Vedha)
Harris Jeyraj (Spyder)

Ghibran (Aramm)

Sean Roldan (Pa Pandi)














A.R.Rahman (Mersal)
















Sam CS is another gem who showed his great potential this year. Vikram Vedha’s excellent storytelling was elevated and supported by Sam CS’s dark, intriguing score. Whoever watched the film will tell you how the theme music kept ringing in their ears for a few days.

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Ravi Varman (Kaatru Veliyidai)


Ravi Varman’s perfect, arresting visuals were one of the most memorable factors of the film. Each frame looked like an expensive painting that attempted to bring out the soulful romance Mani Ratnam visualized. Even though the film was duller than expected, his visuals were highly commended and remembered.















BEST EDITING:
 

Raymond Derrick Crasta (Aruvi)
Aruvi’s story telling is complex and was not something that could have been easily portrayed without good editing. Pieced like a poetic montage, the non-linear narration was handled with care by Raymond. The furiously fast editing channelled the anger of Aruvi on the society at the first half while the redemption in second half is treated with much grace.













BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Sabu Cyril (Baahubali 2)

There’s no surprise here as Sabu Cyril brought the entire universe of Magizhmathi in front of our eyes with so much of details. He made us immerse into another world so convincingly and pushed boundaries of production design in Indian cinema. Even the set of the film is retained as a tourist attraction in Ramoji City.

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