Tollywood started the year 2019 amidst a lot of hope and positivity. In an unprecedented fashion in recent times, the Sankranthi week was packed with three highly prestigious and big movies in the form of NTR: Kathanayakudu, Vinaya Vidheya Rama, and the crazy multi-starrer F2: Fun and Frustration. The buzz for these movies is so high that even a Rajinikanth film like Petta had to play the second fiddle.
But surprisingly, Tollywood has lesser number of releases in 2019 compared to the same period in the decade. The success rate is extremely low too. Except for a few considerably big or medium level movies, it is a host of smaller films that ruled the roost in terms of releases.
January Gives The First Blockbuster
While NTR: Kathanayakudu scored near-unanimous critical acclaim for the scale of production, and the performances of lead actors, Vinaya Vidheya Rama was panned for over the top action sequences, routine story, and unengaging narration. Surprisingly, Kathanayakudu despite positive word of mouth and high critical acclaim failed to set the box office on fire. It has shown collections similar to any of Balakrishna’s recent hit films but didn’t reach the lofty expectations.
While Vinaya Vidheya Rama opened amidst huge negative buzz, it went on to recover 70% of the theatricals and turned out to be one of the highest grossing Telugu films of all time. In spite of this, the movie was a flop. F2: Fun and frustration soared the highest among all Telugu releases in January and ended up as one of the most loved and watched movies in recent memory.
|2||Vinaya Vidheya Rama||Boyapati Srinu||
Prashanth, and Sneha
|3||F2: Fun and Frustration||Anil Ravipudi||
|4||Mr. Majnu||Venky Atluri||Akhil, Niddhi Agerwal, Nagendra Babu, and Priyadarshi||Disaster|
|5||Manikarnika||Radhakrishna Jagarlamdi and Kangana Ranaut||
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni,
and Jisshu Sengupta
February turned out to be a surprisingly dry month for Tollywood while the same month had seen some of the most memorable hits in 2018. Yatra emerged as the sole winner this month despite hitting the screens with no to high buzz. The way the makers underplayed the film and the generally restrained spending helped make the film emerge as a Hit at the box office. Positive word of mouth and the general goodwill Mammootty’s presence also helped the cause.
Lovers Day which hit the screens with huge hype and similarly high expectations disappointed the audience big time with one another high school romance which is well undercooked. Priya Prakash Varrier’s iconic wink lost its sheen in the midst of listless storytelling.
NTR: Mahanayakudu which was expected to do well as it depicts the more recent life of NTR failed to set the box office on fire. The movie ended up as a huge disaster and it had increasingly become difficult to count the box office collections as at many places, the rentals too failed to get recouped. Rest of the other releases didn’t even make their presence felt.
|1||Yatra||Mahi V. Raghav||
and Sachin Khedekar
|2||Lovers Day||Omar Lulu||
Roshan Abdul Rahoof,
|3||NTR: Mahanayakudu||Krish Jagarlamudi||
and Sachin Khedekar
and Adithi Myakal
|5||Premantha Pani Chese Narayana||Jonnalagadda Srinivasa Rao||
March Turns Okayish
The number of releases in March might have increased but none of the movies except Lakshmi’s NTR because of the controversies surrounding it, have created any buzz. But Kalyan Ram’s 118 emerged as a surprise winner at the box office with a sustained long run in the theatres and a positive word of mouth for its different concept. While 118 was registered as a Hit at the box office, Lakshmi’s NTR turned out to be a super hit as it’s made on a shoestring budget. Rest of the films went without a trace.
|1||118||K. V. Guhan||
and Nivetha Thomas
|2||Where is the Venkatalakshmi||Kishore Kumar||
Raai Laxmi, Praveen,
and Madhu Nandan
|3||Jessie||Ashvini Kumar V||
Atul Kulkarni, and
Veda Archana Sastry
|4||Bilalpur Police Station||Naga Sai Makam||
Saanve Meghana and
|5||Mouname Ishtam||Ashok Koralath||
Ram Karthi, Parvathi,
|6||Chikati Gadhilo Chithakkottudu||Chikati Gadhilo Chithakkottudu||
Posani Krishna Murali,
and Mirchi Hemanth
|7||Vinara Sodara Veera Kumara||Sateesh Chandra Nadella||
Srinivas Sai, Priyanka Jain, Uttej, and Jhansi
|8||Lakshmi's NTR||Ram Gopal Varma and Agasthya Manju||
Vijay Kumar, Sri Tej,
and Yagna Shetty
Rahul Vijay, Niharika
and Suhasini Mani Ratnam
First Quarter Verdict
Except for F2, there is no true blue blockbuster in Telugu in 2019 first quarter. And only two films - Vinaya Vidheya Rama and F2 - grossed more than 80 Cr. and collected a share of 50 Cr. It’d be interesting to see how Tollywood come out of this damp beginning to the year. Yatra, 118, and Lakshmi's NTR turned out to be commercially successful films to lift the spirits to some extent. With a host of big and other notable releases, Tollywood summer (and the second quarter) appears bright.
Best Movie of the First Quarter
F2: Fun and Frustration - not just because it is a commercial success, the movie is well made with great characterizations. The performances from Venkatesh, Tamannaah, Mehreen, and Rajendra Prasad are so good and ably supported by Varun Tej and the rest of the cast. The comedy setpieces worked out well and are of high quality. F2 ended its theatrical run with a worldwide gross of about Rs. 131.01 Cr. and a distributor share of Rs. 81.1 Cr.
Surprise of the First Quarter
118 - A well-made thriller with a novel concept. Though there are a few flaws in its execution, the film worked well with the target audience. 118 had a nearly month-long theatrical run thanks to general goodwill through word of mouth and virtually no competition and ended up with a worldwide gross of Rs. 19.54 Cr. and a distributor share of Rs. 11.32 Cr.