The year 2017 did not see any major women-centric films being made in the Telugu film industry. There were a few films that offered strong woman characters. But more or less the woman actors were cast in typical eye candy roles in the majority of the films that were made with hero-worshipping as their main theme.
It has also become a tradition of sorts in Tollywood, where celebrities managed to shock the public time and again with their sexist remarks. Especially, the audio release functions have increasingly become notorious for such controversies. In May, senior actor Chalapathi Rao made headlines for displaying his sheer faith in patriarchy. When Chalapathi was asked to share his thought on the quirky tagline of Rarandoi Veduka Chudham, which read Girls are injurious to mental peace, he said, “Ammayilu hanikaram kadu kani pakkaloki panikostaru (girls are not harmful, but they are useful in bed).”
He added insult to injury, by issuing a nonsensical apology. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. If I had hurt your feelings, I am sorry. But I was angry when they asked me if ‘girls are harmful’? Do we sleep with snakes? No. That’s why I said women are harmless and that’s why we sleep with them. I don’t even understand what’s wrong in that,” he said.
But, for a change, the bigwigs of Tollywood, who normally maintain radio silence on such controversies, distanced themselves from Chalapathi’s comments, while lashing out at him. Hopefully, the celebrities keep their newfound vigour against sexism alive and continue to condemn sexist comments.
Here is a list of woman actors that managed to make a mark in Tollywood in 2017.
Ever since she made her debut appearance on the big screen in 2015 in Premam, she has become the most sought-after woman actors down south. She made her debut in Telugu this year with romantic flick Fidaa and won a unanimous appreciation from the critics and fans alike with her endearing performance.
This year low-budget film Arjun Reddy sprang a surprise that caused tremors in the Telugu film industry. One of which is Shalini Pandey, who made an impressive acting debut with this Devdas-esque film. Her performance as Preethi Shetty, a free-spirited and progressive girl that rebel against her conservative family for the sake of her love, had swept viewers of their feet.
Anushka Shetty had three big releases this year, including Singam 3 and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. While her role in the former was as the hero’s arm candy, the latter offered her a strong role. It was in fact perceived as director SS Rajamouli’s efforts to mend his mistakes in Baabhubali: The Beginning. The director was criticised for a romantic scene where Prabhas tries to ‘tame’ Tamannaah. Anushka’s Devasena is fearless and fearsome, who doesn’t mince words while expressing her thoughts. More importantly, no male character in the film tries to ‘tame’ her.
Ritika Singh, a trained mixed martial artist, repeated her award-winning performance in her Telugu debut Guru, which is the remake of her superhit film Irudhi Suttru.
Rakhul Preet mostly remained in the passenger seat in her films that released this year. Except for Rarandoi Veduka Chudham. The romantic drama offered her a lot of scope for acting. Rakhul’s Bhramarambha was instantly likeable, charming, funny and self-obsessed. She had a lot of flaws but was unapologetic. It was one of the best charming performances in her career.
Kajal Aggarwal had a solid year as nearly all the films that she was part of, made a fortune at the box office. She began 2017 with Khaidi No. 150, which was a big hit. It was followed by Nene Raju Nene Mantri, Vivegam and recently Mersal. Kajal managed to leave a mark with her performance in Nene Raju Nene Mantri and Vivegam, despite these films largely being a hero-centric.
Anupama Parameswaran delivered a convincing performance as Nithya in Sathamanam Bhavati, which also won a National Award. Nithya, who returns to India, falls in love with the serenity and the peaceful lifestyle of her ancestoral village. And she knocked the ball out of the part in the scenes, where she conveys her love for Sharwanand’s Raju through just expressions.
Samantha Ruth Prabhu
Samantha Ruth Prabhu was part of only two films that released this year. Interestingly, both in Raju Gari Gadhi 2 and Mersal, she played an extended cameo role. But, she signed a few interesting projects, including Rangasthalam and Mahanati, this year. We expect her to top this list next year.
Aditi Myakal is another pleasant and promising addition to the Telugu film industry. She made her acting debut with the screwball comedy Ami Thumi. The film was a laugh riot is probably an understatement. Aditi as Maya, a conflicted soul, delivered an awww-worthy performance as she has to choose between her lover and loving father.
Niveda Thomas has been acting in films since her childhood and she has only become better with time. She played leading lady roles in two major films that released this year. She was one of the two heroines in blockbuster Jai Lava Kusa but given that it was Jr NTR’s show all the way, she did not have much to offer. But she had played her role convincing in Ninnu Kori.