Sukumar is one of the top directors in Tollywood and one of the most respected filmmakers in South Indian Cinema. Known for his unique style of storytelling, most of the times, Sukumar's films are character-driven stories which is very in Telugu Cinema. His heroes generally have gray shades and known to have high IQ or EQ (Emotional Quotient). Sukumar's movies often have layered narration.
Sukumar is extremely creative and brainy. These two factors are termed by the noted critics as both blessing and curse for him. When he restrained his creative juices, his films connect with all sorts of the audience instantly like in the case of Arya and Rangasthalam. Or sometimes his films need multiple viewings to fully appreciate the nuances of his filmmaking and the detailing he has come up with like in the case of 1: Nenokkadine and Nannaku Prematho.
For a director of his creative talents, it comes as a surprise that initially he failed to nail a formula for success until very recently. His previous film Rangasthalam was enough of a proof for Sukumar's ability to blast the box office records out of the park. Whatever the case, one thing is certain. Sukumar's movies might be flops or successful at the box office, his movies are never mediocre. To celebrate the creative genius from Tollywood, we dared to rank all his films from the best to the worst. Let's check them out below.
The first is always the best. Arya was a sensation back when it was released not just for the birth of a star but also a star maker. When everyone was, literally everyone from the top stars to the new kids on the block thinking about making youthful films, Sukumar took a youthful concept and throw every routine convention out of the park and made Arya a stand out among the rest.
With a hero redefining what in-screen energy means and a director who was hailed as a brand new ambassador for New age Telugu Cinema, Arya starring Allu Arjun is undisputedly the most memorable work in the resume of director Sukumar. And we can see all the trademarks of Sukumar movies. A thumping musical album, an idiosyncratic hero, item songs, unbridled optimism, and an out of the box narration.
Though everyone has their own favourites, Arya is, without doubt, the quintessential Sukumar film. Everyone wants an Arya. And an Arya a day keeps the troubles away.
2. 1: Nenokkadine
In this day of the connected world, it is impossible to think of a flop film to be respected even by the anti-fans, and loved beyond imagination by the fans. But Sukumar made it possible with 1: Nenokkadine starring superstar Mahesh. While everyone was expecting a sure shot superstar film, Sukumar came up with a well... a superstar of a film... which was beyond the scope of the festival audience who just want to forget the troubles of the world.
Riddled with puzzles and mind games, aided by ample amount of Hollywood level action sequences, 1 is truly a world class film but failed to catch up with the audience at the time. This writer himself has recommended the film to many of his undoubting non-native friends and the question he faced is: is this really a Telugu film? Made by a director from a local language?
That... ladies and gentlemen, was before the world was taken by the storm of Bahubali. Says a lot. And truly deserves its place among some of the best Telugu films of this decade. The interval sequence where the hero confronts Antonio Rosarius, one of the three men whom he thinks killed his parents is enough to say, 1: Nenokkadine is a marvel of a creation from Sukumar.
Some time ago, before Sukumar made a successful comeback with Nannaku Prematho, ace director S. S. Rajamouli made an interesting comment. He said that it is only until directors like Sukumar and Trivikram decide to make an out and out mass film others are safe. In other words, directors like Sukumar can recreate all sorts of records if they make films appealing to the mass audience. Ranganathalam proved those words and created all sorts of Non-Bahubali records.
Despite the stellar star cast that includes Mega Power Star Ram Charan and Samantha, Rangasthalam has Sukumar’s class written all over it. Talking about the story, and other records is redundant. Easily one of the greatest movies ever made in Telugu which was reflected by the fact that the film was one of the five gems of Indian Cinema in 2018. It is also one of the highest grossing Telugu movies of all time and one of the few South Indian movies to join the 200 crore club.
4. 100% Love
A romantic comedy in the true sense. With a Sukumar twist. A battle of wills between two cousins whose romantic tension is apparent all over the movie. Sukumar perfected the formula of romantic comedies which should be an affair between the lead pair without any external involvement until the climax where he resorted to Deux Ex Machina.
Foot-tapping songs, you romantic lead pair in the form of Naga Chaitanya and Tamannaah Bhatia, relatable story... everything worked just perfect.
5. Arya 2
Some consider this spiritual sequel to Sukumar’s iconic debut film his weakest creation and some consider it as a film which is ahead of its time. Whatever we feel about Arya 2, the discussion about this film ends with the director’s own confession. Somewhere along the line, he himself got confused.
Nevertheless, Stylish Star Allu Arjun’s characterisation and some of the scenes between the lead trio are too good to be done by anyone other than Sukumar. The album is one of the best in this century and the song Ringa Ringa is a textbook example for how to conjure up an item song. And then there is the small matter of Allu Arjun's out of this world dances.
Jagadam is a difficult film to categorise. How can a one film old filmmaker can come up with a film of such magnitude? But the problem is how things turned out for the film. A gangster drama of highest class marred by some casting choices and the audience being unprepared.
But when taken purely on cinematic merits, the film could be in his top three films. But as Sukumar himself accepted, some wrong decisions on his part made the film a critical and financial failure. Over time, the movie rightfully gained a cult following. But the movie fell 4 inches short of greatness.
7. Nannaku Prematho
A tribute to father. An emotional drama about emotions. Leaving aside this, Nannaku Prematho is the weakest entry in Sukumar’s directorial career. As his puzzles in the previous film made it a failure, Sukumar tried to give the audience spoon feeding of everything which took the sheen off certain highly creative scenes.
For his part, banking on the newfound stardom of Young Tiger N. T. R., Sukumar delivered a highly entertaining film. Music wise too Nannaku Prematho failed to match the standards of Sukumar’s other films before and after it. But I Wanna Follow Follow Follow you sung by NTR remains an addictive song.
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