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Telugu films of 2021, ranked from worst to best: Feel-good Cinema Bandi to self-absorbed Vakeel Saab

From Pawan Kalyan's Vakeel Saab to Vijay Sethupathi's Uppena, here is the list of best and worst Telugu films to release this year so far.

Written by Manoj Kumar R , A. Kameshwari | Bengaluru |
Updated: July 14, 2021 8:28:32 am
Best and worst of Telugu cinema so far.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have hastened the growth of streaming services in India, but it wasn’t enough to stop people from returning to movie theatres down south. The box office business in the Telugu states bounced back soon after cinema halls were allowed to reopen earlier this year. While the cinema business was still waking up from the deep slumber of 10-month lockdown, Telugu films were setting new box office records.

However, the devastating second wave again upended all the gains that were made by the Telugu film industry between January and April this year. However, some Telugu films were not worthy of the risks that their patrons took to watch them in cinemas. And there were a few that reminded us of the joy and pleasure of the big-screen experience.



This Ravi Teja starrer began the gold rush to theatres in the Telugu states. The film opened in cinemas in January, coinciding with the celebrations of Sankranthi. A typical Ravi Teja fare, it offered nothing new to the audience but attracted the numbers nonetheless. On the back of high-octane action and punchlines, it had the audiences enthralled. The only saving grace of this film was Shruti Haasan’s performance in the film.

krack movie Krack stars Ravi Teja in the lead.


The trailer promised us an intelligent and edge-of-the-seat thriller. We expected this film to be a test of our intellect, instead it tested our patience. The only thing that makes this film tolerable is Nithiin’s performance and the chess match sequences, which have been choreographed quite well.

Zombie Reddy

The Prasanth Verma directorial feels as if it is set in the world of PUBG, overrun by zombies. Despite its many flaws, the film’s humour comes as a saving grace. However, Zombie Reddy is bound to offend you if you are a fan of the genre.


Inspired by a real-life scam, this film follows the rags-to-riches story of a twin brother and sister, played by Vishnu Manchu and Kajal Aggarwal. In addition to acting in it, Vishnu had also produced and written this film, which has no redeeming qualities. Hollywood director Jeffrey Gee Chin is credited as the director of this shambling mess of a film. It is easily the worst Telugu film to have released this year so far.

Wild Dog

The film is set in the aftermath of serial explosions that rocked Hyderabad in 2007. The film imagines a daring operation by a handful of elite anti-terrorist squad officers, who vow to bring the mastermind responsible for the attack to justice. It begins well but it soon loses its grip on the narration with a serious dip in production quality.

Vakeel Saab

vakeel saab Vakeel Saab is helmed by Venu Sriram. (Photo: Dil Raju/YouTube)

The film was the official remake of the Bollywood hit Pink. While the original film was about consent and how no means no, the Telugu remake was all about Pawan Kalyan’s heroism and why people need him more than he needs people. Nonetheless, the film achieved its primary goal, which was to create a box office record.


Director Prabhu Solomon once again professes his love for nature and wildlife through this film. Only his good intentions were not supported by a strong screenplay, which captured the plight of wild animals that are always on the losing side in man-animal conflict. Even Rana Daggubati’s conviction and his commitment to portraying his role as the guardian of the jungle could not save this film.

Ek Mini Katha

The film was supposed to be a sex-positive, adult comedy. But the film instead uses the insecurities of people tormented by the size of their genitals to draw a few laughs. It offers very little perspective about the gravity of the matter it deals with.



The Vijay Kanakamedala directorial is a spectacular courtroom drama to roll out of the Telugu film industry after a long time. Allari Naresh was a real surprise. The actor, who is known for his comedic roles, takes on an intense character and gives us a memorable performance.


Uppena movie Vijay Sethupathi in Uppena.

The Buchi Babu Sana directorial is the best Telugu romantic film to release in the last six months. The film greatly benefited from Vijay Sethupathi’s presence in it. The chemistry between debut actors Vaishnav Tej and Krithi Shetty was refreshing. The film reflects on how even in this day and age, a woman’s chastity is tied to the honour of her family. And it also dwells on the evils of toxic pride stemming from the combination of masculinity and caste.

Jathi Ratnalu

Anudeep KV directorial is utterly silly, but in a good way. The director parodies everything under the sun, the obsession of middle-class people with IT jobs as opposed to self-employment, and pop culture’s influence on youth and their worldview.

Rang De

This romantic comedy is a rehash of all popular films of the genre. Familiar relationship problems and the hopelessly romantic heroine counterbalanced with a hero who doesn’t believe in love. We have seen it all before. But, it is the familiarity of this film that works in its favour. After you enjoy so much of Nithiin and Keerthy Suresh film, it would be hypocritical of one to complain about it.

Cinema Bandi

The new crop of Telugu filmmakers are taking inspiration from their Malayali counterparts and bringing to us feel-good and hopeful stories from far corners of their states. Cinema Bandi is one such film, which urges you to repose faith in the innate goodness of human beings and the pleasures of simplicity.

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