Ask any Indian what their hobbies are, and, in not more than a second, you will hear “watching movies.” Yes! movies are an indispensable part of our lives. Our love for movies is ceaseless. Movies can take us to a place that we have never imagined.
We have been locked in our homes for over a year now. So, obviously, you must have caught up on all the recent TV shows and films. And, now your challenge is to find out some other great movies. If you are looking for drama, romance, comedy, or a blend of all these, then old Telugu movies are for you!
Here is a list of 17 old Telugu movies you must watch before you die. No matter how many times you watch these visual gems, you will always find something new that will leave you amazed.
1950 – 1959 (The Golden 50s)
1. Mayabazar (1957)
Mayabazar is a classic old Telugu movie popular for its innovative visual effects, humorous anecdotes, and amazing performances. It’s directed by K. V. Reddy and is the first-ever mythological film in Telugu cinema.
The fantasy flick depicts the tale Sasirekha Parinayam based on the epic Mahabharata. Abhimanyu (ANR) is in love with Balarama’s daughter Sasirekha (Savitri). The mighty Pandavas lose the dice game, thereby losing their kingdom to the Kauravas. Balarama promises his daughter to Duryodhana’s son, breaking the promise with Abhimanyu’s mother. The rest is how Ghatotkacha (S. V. Ranga Rao) and Krishna (N. T. R) help the lovers unite.
2. Devadasu (1953)
“Hey, You look like a Devadas!” Ever heard this and wondered where it came from?
This film is where it came from. The movie is based on Devadas, a popular Bengali novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
The cult classic romantic narrates the love story between Devadasu (N. T. R), the son of the zamindar, and Parvati (Savitri), the daughter of poor neighbour Neelakantham. When Neelakantham talks about the alliance to the zamindar, he refuses. Irritated, Neelakantham arranges Parvathi’s marriage with the elder widower. Unable to forget Parvathi, Devadasu becomes an alcoholic.
3. Missamma (1955)
Missamma is one of the most loved romantic comedies among old Telugu movies. Directed by L. V. Prasad, the movie is adapted from Rabindranath Maitra’s Bengali play Manmoyee Girls School.
The hilarious movie portrays the story of a zamindar’s daughter, Mahalakshmi, who goes missing as a child. She is later adopted by a Christian couple, who names her Mary. Mary, unaware of her real identity, poses as a married couple with her former colleague T. N. Rao, to get a job as a teacher in the zamindar’s school. The rest of the movie revolves around their attempt of not getting caught and is filled with fun and humour.
4. Thodi Kodallu (1957)
Thodi Kodallu, which means co-sisters in English, is based on Sharat Chandra Chaterjee’s Bengali novel Nishkriti. The story revolves around a joint family, consisting of three brothers and their wives.
One of the wives, Anasuya, who is jealous of the bonding between the other two co-sisters, sets an argument between them. Eventually, the family is broken, but in the end, the family unites, and Anasuya apologizes for her actions. It is not just a movie, rather a story that takes place in many other Indian homes.
1960 – 1969 (The Amazing 60s)
5. Gundamma Katha (1962)
Gundamma Katha is a comedy-drama film directed by Kamalakara Kameswara Rao. The movie is partially based on the play The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.
Gundamma Katha is the tale of a rich ruthless widow, Gundamma, who mistreats her generous step daughter Lakshmi. Gundamma’s goal is to get her pampered daughter Saroja married to a rich boy. The plot revolves around how Lakshmi’s suitor Anji and Saroja’s lover Raja, both sons of a wealthy man, teach a lesson to Gundamma after the couples’ marriages.
6. Lava Kusa (1963)
Lava Kusa is a Hindu mythological film directed by C. S. Rao and C. Pullaiah. Lava Kusa is the first Telugu colour movie. The story is adapted from Uttara Kanda, the later part of Ramayana. The movie revolves around the lives of Lava and Kusa, the sons of Rama and Sita.
(1970 – 1979) The Sterling 70s
7. Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977)
Daana Veera Soora Karna is a Hindu mythological film and one of the old Telugu movies directed by N. T. Rama Rao. It is based on the life of Karna, the legendary character from the epic Mahabharata.
The movie depicts the eternal friendship of Karna and Duryodhana. Karna, who is often insulted for his low birth, dedicates his life to Duryodhana. In the end, both the loyal friends are shown meeting in heaven.
8. Alluri Seeta Rama Raju (1974)
Alluri Seeta Rama Raju (Krishna) is a biographical action Telugu movie directed by V. Ramachandra Rao. The movie depicts the life of the Indian revolutionary, Alluri Seeta Rama Raju, known for his active role in the Rampa Rebellion of 1922-24.
1980 – 1989 (The Stunning 80s)
9. Sankarabharanam (1980)
Sankarabharanam is a musical drama film directed by K. Viswanath. The movie is on the list of the 100 greatest Indian films of all time.
The highly acclaimed film is based on the life of Sankara Sastri, a popular Carnatic singer. The student-guru relationship is misunderstood by all the villagers. When pop music is on the rise, Sastri loses his loyal audience. Sastri dies, announcing his student’s son as an heir to his music.
10. Swati Muthyam (1986)
Kamal Hasan, one of India’s finest actors, plays a pivotal role in this award-winning movie. It is a drama film directed by K. Viswanath.
Shivaiah, an autistic orphan, is married to a widow Lalitha, who is being ill-treated by her sister-in-law. The villagers consider marrying a widow a sin and oppose the marriage. Lalitha later passes away due to her bad health. Shivaji is seen walking out of his house with a tulsi plant, a sign of Lalita’s love.
11. Mayuri (1984)
Mayuri is the inspirational story of classical dancer Sudha Chandran. The biographical dance film is directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao.
The film sketches the life of a dancer who loses her leg in an accident. It seems her career has come to an end, but Sudha has other plans. The old Telugu movie shows how the dancer struggles and fights her way back as a dancer and succeeds in her life.
1990 – 1999 (The Mindblowing 90s)
12. Jamba Lakidi Pamba (1993)
Jamba Lakidi Pamba is a fantasy comedy film directed by E. V. V. Satyanarayana. The movie humorously depicts women’s rights.
Ramalakshmi, who is disturbed by the male-dominated behaviour, mixes a herb, Jamba Lakidi Pamba, into the drinking water. People then start behaving differently. Men behave like women and vice versa. A cop, Naresh, is sent to Vizag to find out the cause of their strange behaviour. The rest is how the cop tricks Ramalakshmi into marrying him and reveal the secret behind this mess.
13. Aapathbandhavudu (1992)
Aapathbandhavudu is an old Telugu drama starring Chiranjeevi and Meenakshi Seshadri in key roles. The movie is directed by K. Viswanath. The film displays how two lovers live apart because of societal norms.
Madhava is a servant to Hema and her father. Hema is taken to a mental asylum after she goes into shock. Madhava pretends to be mentally unstable and is admitted to the same asylum. He goes through a lot of hardships to save Hema and help her regain her memory.
14. Matru Devo Bhava (1991)
Matru Devo Bhava has won the National film award for best lyrics, “Raalipoye Puvva.”
I guess you must have heard this song at least once. The movie is a remake of a Malayalam film Akashadoothu.
Satyam, a driver, and his wife Sarada, a music teacher, are orphans and brought up in an ashram. Satyam is killed while Sarada is diagnosed with cancer. Sarada wants her children to be raised in a family environment. Later, the children are adopted by different families.
If you are a light-hearted person like me, you might end up in tears. So better have a bunch of tissues with you ready.
2000 – 2009 (The Realistic 2000s)
15. Aa Naluguru (2004)
Aa Naluguru is not too old a movie, but definitely my favourite of all the old Telugu movies.
The movie revolves around the life of Raghuram (Rajendra Prasad), a kind-hearted man who spends more than half of his salary on charity. A scene in the movie where Raghuram resigns his job as an editor when his managing director asks him to publish tabloid photos, shows that he is driven by values. The eye-opening drama depicts Raghuram’s fight for his philosophy that human relationships are far important than money.
16. Okkadu (2003)
Considered by many film lovers a pathbreaking flick, Okkadu is quite a masterpiece in itself. it’s a simple story about a Kabaddi player Ajay (Mahesh Babu) who visits Kurnool and rescues a vulnerable village girl Swapna (Bhoomika Chawla) from an unwanted marriage against all forces. Writer-director Gunashekhar brought out the best of the actors and created a world of chaos, love, rebellion, and courage to present cinematic excellence. Often compared with evergreens like Mayabazaar and Pathala Bhairavi by fans, Okkadu checks all the boxes for Old Telugu Movies you can’t afford to miss!
17. Magadheera (2009)
When it’s a S.S. Rajamouli movie, do we really need to explain why to watch it? Magadheera is a full-blown fantasy saga that has all the right ingredients for a blockbuster. Larger-than-life sets and CGI, fantastic costumes, brilliantly done action sequences, great music, and beautiful-looking characters- what’s there not to like? The story is about a reincarnated warrior who comes back after 400 years to save the love of his life. Magadheera is best enjoyed on a large screen with the whole family!
Do watch the movies and let us know your favourite ones. Also, share your list of the best old Telugu movies that our readers will never go wrong choosing.