HYDERABAD: 2020 has been a year unlike any other as Covid-19 has made sure of that. The last eight/nine months have witnessed an unprecedented amount of disruption in almost every aspect of the film industry, from the cancellation of film shootings, production activities to the closure of theatres to an indefinite delay in the theatrical release of many films.
Overall, there were some moments of celebration, many moments of despair, successes and failures. Murali Krishna CH takes a look back at the key events of the year that have made the news.
A promising start
The first quarter of 2020 (January-March) was off to a promising start with two star-driven Sankranthi releases – Mahesh Babu’s Sarileru Neekevvaru and Allu Arjun-starrer Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, turning out to be money-spinners not only in the Telugu states but also overseas. The clash of these films had created a huge buzz on social media with fans of Mahesh and Arjun promoting them amid festive fervor. Directed by Anil Ravipudi, Sarileru...was an unabashed product of commercial cinema that has shown Mahesh in his elements. Although the film had its share of detractors, it had found its audience.
Trivikram Srinivas’ Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo...that is made within the broader conventions of mainstream cinema, had its heart in the right place. The wholesome family entertainer has resurrected the career of Allu Arjun, who is reeling under failures. SS Thaman’s music coupled with the impeccable performances of Allu Arjun and Murali Sharma has made Ala...cut ice at the ticket window and a memorable hit of 2020. Actor Nithiin too laughed his way to the box-office with the success of Bheeshma.
Vishwak Sen’s mystery-thriller HIT: The First Case, tells the story of an angry young cop, who goes all guns blazing to find a missing girl. Inspired by real incidents, the story was a journey into a troubled mind and gives a riveting experience in terms of its sensitivity, moodiness, atmosphere and eeriness, making one look forward to its sequel.
Karuna Kumar, one of the writers of Awe, had turned director with Palasa 1978. A period saga set against the cashew capital of Andhra Pradesh, the film highlights the caste atrocities, family feud, and sexual depravity. The film’s run was disrupted due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown that impacted the operations of the industry.
Digital is the new normal
After the closure of theatres on March 23, the movie buffs have binge-watched old classics, web series, short films, animated shows and series on Over The Top (OTT) and digital streaming platforms. While several big films deferred their releases, a slew of small films had bypassed theatrical release and redefined the First Day First Show (FDFS) experience at our doorstep. Kshanam-fame Ravikanth Perepu’s Krishna and his Leela is the first film to have a digital OTT release this year. Starring Siddhu Jonnalagadda, Shraddha Srinath, Shalini Vadnikatti and Seerat Kapoor, the urban rom-com is about a man who was caught in a tangled web of lies between two women.
The film came as a breath of fresh air in the lockdown and also unleashed the potential of actor-writer Siddhu, who followed this success with Aditya Madala’s Maa Vintha Gaadha Vinuma. Debutant Srikanth Nagoti’s rom-com Bhanumathi and Ramakrishna featuring Naveen Chandra is a refreshing rom-com about finding love in your 30s. C/o Kancharapalem-fame Venkatesh Maha arrived with yet another rustic film, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya. A remake of Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the Satyadev-starrer is a heart-warming tale that manages to retain its own identity.
Despite having four fine actors –Nani, Sudheer Babu, Nivetha Thomas and Aditi Rao Hydari, V turned out to be a lackluster film on OTT. Even though the film was different in its approach, it couldn’t get past the audience’s apprehensions and also dashed its director Indraganti Mohan Krishna’s expectations. Debutant Vinod Anantoju has narrated an enjoyable film that tells the story of a young man, who sets out to chase his dreams.
Both Anand Deverakonda and his Bombay Chutney hit the taste buds of the audience and Goparaju Ramana, who played the former’s father, has left a lasting impression with aplomb. Comedian Suhas graduated to a lead role with Colour Photo. Debut director Kiran Reddy’s Gatham has turned out to be the sleeper hit of the year. NRI movie aficionados, seemed to have a good year.
Actor Samantha Akkineni, who awaits her digital debut with The Family Man season 2, has turned a talk show host with Sam Jam. Producer-actor Rana Daggubati has launched SouthBay.Live channel to offer diverse content and has also hosted a quirky animated series titled ‘Why Are You?’ Megastar Chiranjeevi’s older daughter and costume designer Sushmita Konidela has donned the producer hat and bankrolled a web series titled Shootout at Alair.
Back to business
The shooting of films and other production activities resumed in October. December saw the reopening of cinema theatres and multiplexes with a 50 percent seating capacity. While Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has become the first theatrical release post lockdown, Sai Tej’s Solo Brathuke So Better has landed in cinemas as a Christmas delight.
The departed doyens
Amid the pandemic chaos, Telugu cinema has lost actor Jayaprakash Reddy and legendary playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam and the absence of these stalwarts has created a void in the world of art and creativity.
Feel the love
Actors Rana Daggubati, Nikhil, Nithiin, Niharika Konidela and Kajal Aggarwal bid goodbye to their single status and got hitched their loved ones this year. Although the weddings took place amid strict lockdown protocols, the online updates kept their fans thrilled and engaged