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Home»News»The Good, The Mediocre, And Oh-My-God-What’s-Happening In Telugu Fantasy Movies»

The Good, The Mediocre, And Oh-My-God-What’s-Happening In Telugu Fantasy Movies

From Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari to Akhil, here’s a run through recent Telugu fantasy films that get it right, and a few that we wish had been better.
  • Karthik Keramalu

  • Film Companion

Last Updated: 08.41 AM, Jul 05, 2021

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Telugu cinema wasn’t always known for making epic fantasy films. Apart from K. V. Reddy’s Mayabazar and S. S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali, there aren’t many others that you can think of. So, this is a list that contains the best and the worst along with the ones that are just about average. 

Is there anybody out there who doesn’t like Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari? This is a bloody entertaining fantasy drama that has everything in equal measure – over the top action sequences, a sorcerer as the villain, a goddess in the form of Sridevi, a heartthrob with the face of Chiranjeevi, a finger ring that possesses magical powers, and amazing songs by Ilaiyaraaja. This is a lethal combination that today’s movies do not have the temerity to fight against.  

Who would have thought that a fly could take revenge against a human? Whenever you hear a fly go, “Bzzz… bzzz,” near your ears, do you think it’s trying to communicate with you, or attack you? Eega is, no doubt, a fantasy thriller about an insect, but it’s very much a Sudeep movie, too. He gives it his best right from scene one and there’s no stopping him. As a baddie who makes the nature of evil look cool and sassy, he comes second only to Rajinikanth in Indian cinema.  

Bhairava Dweepam is a totally bonkers film in which Balakrishna kills a two-headed dragon in one scene and defeats a beast in a glass palace by shattering mirrors in another. There are lilliputs, who speak a language of their own, and friendly devils who wear garish costumes. And the best part about this Singeetam Srinivasa Rao feature is that a bed (with an occupant in it) travels a long way to reach the villain’s den. Perhaps, there’s no limit to Rao’s imagination. Wow!

Though the special effects in Anji were lauded back in the day, the film doesn’t live up to the hype. The movie centers on a few myths and a whole lot of chatter around immortality. The villains are laughably bad and instead of instilling fear in the viewers, they make their evilness come across as silly. They speak louder than necessary all the time and rob the screen of the almost awe-inspiring visuals that involve a glowing Aatmalingam. Chiranjeevi’s charisma is perhaps the only saving grace. 

Sahasa Veerudu Sagara Kanya has a fantastic idea, but it’s buried under a large pile of nonsense. A mermaid (played by Shilpa Shetty) is the real protagonist here. However, since it’s directed by K. Raghavendra Rao, more importance is given to the glamorous aspect of the movie. By the time you start wrapping your head around the sea creatures, the mermaid simply turns into yet another object that’s placed in front of you for your viewing pleasure. How can you possibly leer at a mermaid?  

 

More than the fantasy facet of Yamaleela, what’s interesting is the comedy it’s embedded in – Yama and his sidekick pay a visit to our planet to look for a book that mentions the dates of people’s deaths. Have you ever seen a mythical character devouring ice creams as if there’s no tomorrow? Why can’t gods have a share in the things that we’ve created for ourselves? Along with ice-creams, there can be pancakes and waffles in heaven and other related places, as well, right? Also, do the gods keep an eye on what they’re consuming?  

 

If you want to lose your sanity while watching a film, you should tune into Anaganaga O Dheerudu. There’s a gobsmacking amount of world-building here – good and bad people perform wizardry on the fly and they all employ cheesy dialogues to make their sleight of hand appear incredible. But when you see around a dozen snakes coming out of Lakshmi Manchu’s mane, you won’t be able to stifle your yawn. In case you manage to catch it on a streaming platform, make sure to erase your memories later. 

If Anji is somewhere between enjoyable and passable, you can find Sakthi at the bottom of the table. This movie is also about gods and divinity, but it gives no space to a story that can carry all the elements on its back. What it finally does, though, is pit a brawny foreigner against a patriotic protagonist. And amidst all the ruckus, there’s something called Jwalamukhi (not related to the spirit of Chandramukhi, of course) that emits a golden light – it actually resembles a bar of Mysore Sandal Soap. Ugh! 

 

Is there a German word that describes the meeting point between embarrassment and disappointment? If there is, then you can attach it to The Power of Jua. Akhil is supposed to be Akhil Akkineni’s big debut – he sings, dances, flexes his muscles, hoodwinks the monstrous piranhas, and even jumps out of a burning airplane, but nothing saves this fantasy dung. He tries to save a powerful metal ball from being kidnapped by a Russian don and ends up killing the viewers, albeit metaphorically.

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