20 films that sum up South India

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)

Pannaiyam Padminiyum Movie Still
Pannaiyam Padminiyum Movie Still

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.


Still from Periyar
Still from Periyar – the movie

Periyar is a namesake biopic of Periyar Ramasamy; an iconoclast who founded Tamil Nadu.

3 Mouna Ragam (Symphony of silence)

A scene from Mouna Ragam
A scene from Mouna Ragam

South Indians are quiet and reflective people and Mouna Ragam shows it in celluloid.

4 Manam (All of us)

Movie Poster of Manam
Movie Poster of Manam

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)

Naa Bangaru-Talli movie still
Naa Bangaaru-Talli movie still

The film highlights sex trafficking, kidnapping and other unsavory news which is a sad reality in South India.

6 Bharat Stores

Bharath Stores Poster
Bharat Stores Poster

A harsh reality for many small retailers comes through in this film about globalization’s affect on South Indian economy.

7 Gulabi Talkies

Gulabi Talkies Poster
Gulabi Talkies Poster

An old film like Gulabi Talkies shows the isolation of villages in South India; prevalent even today.


Kathanayakudu Digital Poster
Kathanayakudu Film’s Poster

A biopic on NT Rama Rao who was a Telugu actor and a politician; mirroring South India’s cinematic and political (coinciding) scenario.

Hyderabad Nawabs 

Movie still from Hyderabad Nawabs
Movie still from 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) 

Movie still from lay Pat
Movie still from Alai Payuthey

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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    1. Well, I asked around and most of these were suggestions before I watched them. After watching the films I couldn’t help connect the story on the screen to the story happening around me in south India. Thank you so much for the likes.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you for reading my article and the compliment. I’m a fan of authors, writers and bloggers. I need to brush up my knowledge on celebrities too! Haha. Best wishes to you.


      1. Okay noted. Except for Madhavan I could recognise no one. These movies are little old I think. I never watched south Indian movies but in recent times there is an increase of interest in south Indian movies in other part some might give credit to Bahubali but then think it was zee cinema which started the trend with their dubbed versions.

        My first south Indian movie in original language telgu was ” Magadheera” which I enjoyed the most ofcourse with subtitles. Since then I have watched many my my favourites remain, ramcharan, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun and Vikram. Of course you can’t take name of Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Mohanlal and Ajith as they are on another level and era.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s inspiring that you take time to do what you love! I am really glad that our WordPress community is so responsive and supportive and you are always so kind with your words Sunil. I look forward to reading your posts and hear your observations on my posts too.


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