Telugu star Balakrishna’s new movie Bhagavanth Kesari has hit the screens this week. Forget the reviews — you can’t blame the critics, to be honest — a Balakrishna movie is fun in ways that can be imagined. A pop psychology analysis is waiting to be done as to why his over-the-top masala films enjoy the kind of success they usually do.
The films don’t make much sense, but human enjoyment is usually beyond logical understanding. One need not be condescending towards Balakrishna movies. One can partake of the mass entertainment it offers.
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Best Balakrishna movies
Here is my list of the best Balakrishna movies. As always, this is a personal opinion but feel free to chime in the comments below if you don’t agree.
Veera Simha Reddy
Veera Simha Reddy brings everything you associate with the star and tries to push the limits of your credulity. But that is par for the course in a Balakrishna film.
This action-packed, over-the-top masala film had critics tearing their hair in frustration and fans going delirious in the theatres. Written and directed by Gopichand Malineni, aside from Balaya in a double role, it stars Honey Rose as the main female lead while Shruti Haasan, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, and Duniya Vijay are in supporting roles.
One of the biggest hits of Balakrishna in recent times. Director Boyapati Srinu delivers what the star’s legion of fans want — a loud mass action entertainer. Everything is larger than life and nothing is subtle. Balakrishna is in a dual role, one of them being almost as powerful as Lord Shiva. Pragya Jaiswal, Jagapathi Babu, and Srikanth are also in the cast.
When it was released in 2001, it clashed with Venkatesh’s Devi Putrudu and Chiranjeevi’s Mrugaraju. Narasimha Naidu emerged as the big winner in that race, and the film was instrumental in building the Balakrishna larger-than-life image to the levels that it has reached now.
The songs were a major hit, and Balakrishna had three heroines to romance with — Simran, Preeti Jhangiani, and Asha Saini. The director, B Gopal was a favourite of Balayya, and the duo did five films together — four of them have been big hits.
Simha is said to be a remake of the 2008 Tamil film Silambattam. But director Boyapati Srinu has made enough tweaks to make Simha work.
With Balakrishna in a double role, Simha was a big blockbuster, while Silambattam was an average grosser. Such is the pull of Balakrishna. Along with him in the cast are Nayantara, Sneha Ullal, Rahman, Sai Kumar, Adithya Menon, Namitha, Kota Srinivasa Rao and K R Vijaya.
Another Boyapti Srinu template movie. Another Balakrishna double role. and another big hit. The second half of the film was seen to be explosive with both action and emotional scenes getting a huge thumbs-up from the fans. In the cast were Jagapathi Babu, Sonal Chauhan and Radhika Apte, but as ever NBK was the cynosure.
The Tamil masala director K S Ravikumar joined forces with Balakrishna for this film. And his touch was visible. Ravikumar gave a good contemporary action spin to an emotional story that tapped Balakrishna, the actor and the star, in equal measure.
Aside from Balakrishna’s heroics, the film had an emotional hook backed by adequate situational and, sometimes, slapstick humour. It also starred Nayanthara, Hariprriya, and Natasha Doshi, among others.
This is the father of all roles for Balakrishna. Quite literally, at that. This is a two-part biopic on his legendary dad, NTR. Balakrishna fits the role and looks to a T.
Directed by Krish Jagarlamudi and produced by the actor himself, the film stars an ensemble cast. Vidya Balan plays the female lead. The film offers a nostalgic look back on Telugu cinema and fashion from that time period. The biopic copped flak for not showing the controversial aspects in the life of NTR.
This 99th film in the star’s career offers everything that his fans look for in his movies. Fights, dances, punch dialogues, sentiments and comedy are all purveyed in formulaic precision.
Is it the right way to approach a movie? Well, that is the subject for another day. Directed by mass movie specialist Sriwass, the film stars Anjali, Sonal Chauhan and Vikramjeet Virk.
Sri Rama Rajyam
Balakrishna’s father NTR made a name for himself by playing the role of many Gods in the Hindu pantheon. He was particularly known for playing Lord Krishna and Lord Ram. For many fans, he was the veritable Devudu.
So when his son Balakrishna attempted to reprise the role of Lord Ram, the expectation was also mixed with a strange nostalgia. The film, in any case, was a reprise of NTR’s mega-hit Lava Kusa (1963). Sri Rama Jayam was directed by Bapu (in his last venture) and also featured Nayanthara, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, and Srikanth, and the music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja.
The number of ‘Simha’ (which means ‘lion’ in English) movies that Balakrishna has done in Telugu are many. The man fancies himself as a lion of sorts. So, it is appropriate to round up our list with a movie named Lion.
Directed by debutant Satyadev, the movie is loosely based on the Hollywood movie Unknown. The film’s female leads are Trisha Krishnan and Radhika Apte. Like most of his other movies, the film revolves entirely around Balakrishna and depends on his performance.
An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.