The origins of South Indian cinema go as far back as the 1800s. Early productions featured religious stories, documentaries and mythological plays; with Kalidas as South India’s first ‘talking’ feature film.
Ever since then, the South Indian movie culture has produced more than a thousand feature films every year. Now, southern cinema, is the second largest box office contributor in Indian cinema. And, from these thousands, there are many films that entertain the South Indian junta. Albeit; only a few films among them truly capture South India’s culture in celluloid.
Here is South India and its culture in my list of 20 movies from across the region.
1 Pannaiyarum Padminiyum (The Landlord and Padmini)
The film revolves around an old man and his love for his vintage car. The easygoing plot of the film touches upon the simple lifestyle of South Indians in sub-urban and rural areas and their disconnect from urban influences like ambition, greed and apathy.
Periyar is a namesake biopic of Periyar Ramasamy; an iconoclast who founded Tamil Nadu.
3 Mouna Ragam (Symphony of silence)
South Indians are quiet and reflective people and Mouna Ragam shows it in celluloid.
4 Manam (All of us)
A fantasy story nonetheless; reincarnation is a popular belief in South India; among strong family ties and subdued love.
5 Na Bangaaru Talli (My precious daughter)
The film highlights sex trafficking, kidnapping and other unsavory news which is a sad reality in South India.
6 Bharat Stores
A harsh reality for many small retailers comes through in this film about globalization’s affect on South Indian economy.
7 Gulabi Talkies
An old film like Gulabi Talkies shows the isolation of villages in South India; prevalent even today.
A biopic on NT Rama Rao who was a Telugu actor and a politician; mirroring South India’s cinematic and political (coinciding) scenario.
9 Hyderabad Nawabs
A film which regales viewers with a parody on South India’s unemployed youth and their lazy way of life.
10 Alai Payuthey (Flowing waves)
This romantic drama features the trials of a couple and the consequences of their bold choices. Alai Payuthey is a testament, to the stiff upper lip families of South India, who frown upon the idea of marrying for love.
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