The screen-writing in the Telugu web space witnessed a considerable improvement this year with filmmakers dabbling with a wide variety of themes
Last Updated: 11.43 AM, Dec 31, 2022
Telugu digital space showed signs of coming of age in a year where viewership and subscribers for streaming platforms in tier-2, tier-3 regions grew substantially. In a bid to cater to the demands of uncompromising viewers with different tastes, streamers dabbled with a wide variety of themes that yielded mixed results. Two streaming platforms, in particular, were prolific with their experiments in Telugu - ZEE5 and aha. While Amazon Prime Video returned to Telugu web shows after a brief sabbatical, SonyLIV, as a platform, too gradually began growing among Telugu viewers. We take a look at some of the best Telugu shows that made an impact in 2022 (in no particular order).
Meet Cute - SonyLIV
Deepthi Ganta (actor Nani’s sister) made a confident directorial debut with this anthology that seemed like a gentle breeze on a wintery morning. She adopted a personalised filmmaking style, coming up with five slice-of-life stories revolving around conversations between two strangers in different setups. While it would’ve been easy to get carried away by the big names associated with it, the debutante held her own in this warm hug of a show seeped in reality. From the measured performances to the subtle humour and Vijay Bulganin’s memorable music score, Meet Cute had many aspects working for it.
Modern Love Hyderabad - Amazon Prime Video
This poetic, chirpy ode to Hyderabad marked the homecoming of director Nagesh Kukunoor in a land where his career took off. Four filmmakers including Kukunoor, Uday Gurrala, Devika Bahudhanam and Venkatesh Maha joined hands for the anthology that captured different dimensions of the fast-changing city. The stories, adapted from the New York Times’ Modern Love column, the show is funny, poignant, bizarre, emotional and nostalgic - all at the same time. Revathy, Nithya Menen, Malvika Nair, Abijeet, Aadhi Pinisetty and Ritu Varma make their presence felt in the show which has a beautiful theme track by MM Keeravaani.
Recce - Zee5
One of the more underrated shows in 2022, Recce is easily the finest thriller made in the regional space this year. Director Krishna Poluru, who comes with vast experience in the television industry, made a transition to the web space almost effortlessly. Recce has arresting performances, well-written characters with solid conflicts, delightful twists, backed by Ram Mahesh’s spell-binding cinematography and an arresting music score by Sriram Maddury. Watch out for the performances of Sriram, Siva Balaji and Sammeta Gandhi. Spanning seven episodes, it’s a near-breathless ride worthy of your time.
Anya’s Tutorial - aha
Another debutant, Pallavi Gangireddy, gave a wickedly, intriguing spin to the horror-thriller genre, with a story surrounding two sisters in a dysfunctional family that sends a shiver down your spine. This show pays heed to the technical appeal as much as the writing and the storytelling and addresses several themes relevant to the average millennial viewer. Anya’s Tutorial makes an impact due to compelling performances from Nivedhitaa Satish and Regina Cassandra, who unleash their inner beast to get into the skin of two flawed characters. Written by Sowmya Sharma and backed by Arka Media, the makers of Baahubali, the show is sure to please a horror junkie.
9 Hours - Disney+ Hotstar
Adapted from Telugu writer Malladi Venkata Krishna Murthy’s popular novel Thommidi Gantalu and created by Krish Jagarlamudi, 9 Hours is an edge-of-the-set crime thriller centred on a bank robbery. From the arresting premise to the nostalgia of its 80s setup, the morally corrupt characters and a racy screenplay, this effective retro-styled thriller gives a chance for several under-appreciated talents like Tarakarathna, Madhu Shalini, Vinod, Ajay and Ravi Prakash to shine. The superb production design, Shaktikanth Karthick’s impactful score enrich the show directed by Niranjan Kaushik and Jacob Verghese.
Other notable mentions - Parampara 2, Hello World, Gaalivaana, Unstoppable with NBK, Qubool Hai
Despite a fluttering start in the first season, Disney+ Hotstar’s family drama returned for an engaging second instalment with good, old-fashioned drama and impressive performances by Naveen Chandra, Sarathkumar and Jagapathi Babu. BBC, in collaboration with North Star Entertainment, ZEE5, made its debut in the Telugu streaming arena with a solid murder mystery through which veterans Radhika Sarathkumar, Sai Kumar forayed into the digital space. Another show from the same platform, Hello World, did a commendable job in taking stock of the various problems faced by employees in the corporate sector.
Qubool Hai on aha was a rare effort to have documented the plight of child trafficking victims while also throwing light on the power politics in this racket involving cops, politicians and criminals. In the non-fiction space, the chat show Unstoppable with NBK came back for a second season with a bang, thanks to host Balakrishna’s new-found enthusiasm and a better choice of guests including politicians and film celebrities.