Taapsee Pannu to Shraddha Srinath: 7 actresses who shone in Telugu cinema this year

During this Navaratri...let’s take a look at the best women of this year on celluloid.

Published: 05th October 2019 08:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th October 2019 01:28 PM   |  A+A-

Actresses Shraddha Srinath, Rakul Preet Singh and Regina Cassandra.

Actresses Shraddha Srinath, Rakul Preet Singh and Regina Cassandra.

By Express News Service

Rakul Preet Singh (Manmadhudu 2)

Rakul Preet Singh as Avanthika was near-perfect in Nagarjuna-starrer Manmadhudu 2 that discussed everything from consensual sex to relationship pressures and OCD for cleanliness to treading the offensive zone with double entendres. Avanthika is a fiercely independent woman, who wears her sexuality openly and is unabashed about her lifestyle choices that she doesn’t bow down to societal pressure, no matter what. It’s a rarity that our filmmakers conceive such characters and credit to director Rahul Ravindran for not making an attempt to justify Avanthika’s character in any way and showing her for what she was and let the audience deal with it. It’s certainly one of the most underrated performances of the year and Rakul submitted herself to Rahul’s vision and got everything from the accent of a Telugu girl, who moved to Cassandra, Portugal to the body language and the emotional core to perfection.

Samantha Akkineni (Majili, Oh Baby!)

Without any second thought, Samantha Akkineni is the most celebrated actor of our times, outshining herself with every subsequent film. If you think Rangasthalam was her best, she exceeded all expectations in Mahanati. And as Sravani in Majili, she has breathed life into the character going through conflicts – internally and externally – shouldering the finances, understanding her husband’s pain for his ex-flame and loving him unconditionally without saying anything openly. She has captured the nuances of this character right. She continued her dream run with yet another box office winner, Oh Baby!  It is a role where Sam seems to have had the most amount of fun playing the younger version of Bebamma. Her lively character commanded every frame she is in and the way she delivered her lines with sarcasm and emotional depth is one of the high points of the film.

Jhansi (F2, Mallesham)

After tickling the funny bones with F2, actor Jhansi has played the quiet and thoughtful mother of Chintakindi Mallesham in Priyadarshi-starrer biopic Mallesham. Exhibiting the ordeals of a handloom worker with remarkable maturity, it’s a character that drives/inspires her son to create an Asu machine to process yarn mechanically. It’s the story of a son who puts in all efforts to keep his mother happy. Jhansi has delivered a compelling performance and brought depth to her character by conveying her vulnerability, hesitation and support to her son, who is being taunted by her husband and villagers for taking up an onerous task. She was in brilliant form in what was one of the refreshing films we saw this year.

Regina Cassandra (Evaru)

Sameera is real, she is vulnerable, she is twisted and she is ambitious. Regina Cassandra plays a rape victim stuck in the whirlwind of a murder she claims she committed in self-defence. This introduction of her character booming, “I will fight,” is intense enough to get through to the audience. But as the crime thriller progresses we are faced with the many layers of the character. A wronged trophy wife, a dishonest lover, a blackmailer, a temptress, a murderer and a mastermind. As the layers unfold, and her guilt comes to the fore, her desperation and her hunger for power do too. In a conventional world, to play a wildly negative role with no salvation or justification whatsoever is a bold move and Regina plays ball with it... And how!

Tamannah (Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy)

In a complete machismo-laden period war film, it isn’t easy for a woman character to stand out, especially when the driving force behind the role is — Love. However, as Lakshmi...Lakshmi Narasimha Reddy, Tamannaah is more than just a plot device in Syeraa. Playing a much-revered artiste, Tamannaah, even when suffering from a broken heart, maintains the respectability of her well-written role. Although initially, it felt like she was playing yet another version of the ‘look-at-the-hero-and-flutter-your-eyelids’  role, her performance is nothing short of revelatory. It is never easy being in love with demi-gods who are out to save the world, and it is tougher when that love is unrequited. We might not know why Lakshmi loved Narasimha Reddy? But that’s the thing, we don’t have to. Tamannaah sells it anyway, and how!.

Kajal Aggarwal (Sita)

In the titular role, Kajal plays an ambitious woman, who cares for materialistic things and wears her attitude on her sleeves. A woman compares her to Soorpanaka and Sita reciprocates saying: ‘My pleasure’. For someone who was known for playing girl-next-door and glam doll roles, Sita comes as a breath of fresh air and Kajal springs a surprise with her authoritative act. With no room for empathy, her role demands all your attention. Everyone has their priorities and goals in their lives, but how effectively you achieve them matters the most. More or less, Kajal’s character in the film is a representation of the aspirations of a 21st-century woman, who never ceases to amaze with their dynamism. And some times, one has to be at the receiving end as people around you may interpret you as a cold-hearted soul who lacks conscience. But you fight these battles to emerge victorious. So, Sita is that woman who means business and Kajal, with great aplomb, has just nailed it!

Taapsee Pannu (Game Over)

Taapsee Pannu has always been vocal about issues that are rarely ever talked about through her choice of movies. Game Over too speaks of mental health subtly and sensitively through Swapna’s plight. Therapy and medication are introduced to the audience as a matter-of-fact part of her character after the trauma she experienced. A breath of fresh air is how the sexual assault that happens on Swapna isn’t used to progress the plot but is merely her past that leads to her PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). Swapna is a gamer who loves to party but is shunned to a life of solitude after being assaulted on New Year’s. Victim blaming, life after an incident like that and the need for support and professional help post such life-altering situations are touched upon to set up the reasons for her helplessness and it is a great metaphor for the alienation victims face from the society. How she rises above her fears is a much-needed message of hope towards the end.

Shraddha Srinath (Jersey)

Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? The one where a person’s sheer hard work and talent trumps any and all adversaries. In Jersey, Nani’s Arjun, a failed cricketer continuously knocks hard at all the closed doors till they break open. But, who gives him the strength to knock harder every single time? It is, undoubtedly, his wife Sarah, played by an assured Shraddha Srinath. In our films, we have been fed the age-old cliche: ‘Behind every successful man, there’s a woman’. But what if the man is someone like Arjun who isn’t consistently successful? Sarah does everything Arjun needs, and not everything he wants. Shraddha delivers a nuanced performance as someone who knows love might be dreamy but it is not all rosy when reality hits you hard. How do the Sarahs of the world manage to stand by their Arjuns, and still ensure the world around them doesn’t crumble? It is high time they get a film of their own.


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