I keep seeing people’s lists and everyone has such different tastes!
Personally, I fall hard for the stereotypical average audience-geared action/romance/comedies, but occasionally those films with an artistic touch pull me in, so this list is a balance of both.
Also, most of the movies on this list are newer, so I guess it’s good for starters or just people wanting a general taste. However I did include some “iconic” films so all those references make sense :)
Shoutout to the anon! I’m barely scratching the surface here.
Updated June 26 2017
Thupakki: just because a military man is on holiday, doesn’t mean he takes a break off work.
Thaandavam: a blind man’s revenge (the only revenge movie/arranged marriage movie I care about)
Arima Nambi: what happens when your average guy (as average as heroes can get, at least) finds out a politician is up to no good
Ko: one of my favourite movies, basically centers on the responsibility of a journalist and how the world sees itself through his camera
Kaththi: the film that really brought the plight of our farmers to light. Action with heart.
Vaayai Moodi Pesavum: you listen more to the people in your life when you can’t talk
Kadhalil Sothupuvathu Eppadi: same director as VMP, this one has a focus on romantic relationships Nanban*: remake of the Bollywood film 3 Idiots, almost scene-to-scene identical. Kaaka Muttai: finally, a movie about slums & poverty that isn’t white-saviour porn. It’s a cute and happy film about two slum kids who want to buy a pizza. This later won an award at TIFF.
Mariyaan: only here just to prove our cinema’s technical/artist talent, one of the most visually appealing films out there Raja Rani: the only other arranged marriage movie I care about O Kadhal Kanmani: a very tactfully done movie on the mystery that is a live-in relationship - especially in India.
A tip for Kollywood films: if it’s called an “epic romance”, everybody’s going to die and you’ll be sad.
Madrasapattinam: romance between a clothes washer and the daughter of a British governor. Kaaviyathalaivan: follows the tales of two men in a theater troupe in British India. It’s sad. Very sad. Raavanan (inspired by the epic Ramayanam)
and of course, Baahubali parts 1 & 2, the pride and joy of South Indian Cinema (a fictional story inspired by various aspects of history & mythology, basically if you want a feel for what historical fiction is like without having to know anything this is a good movie. It also has the structure of a masala telugu film which is interesting).
Please for the love of god avoid all these random horror movies that have cropped up recently, the only good one is Pizza because of the plot twist at the end, and Maya since it’s a heroine-driven film.
Classics (now some of you will yell at me for putting post-2010 films on here but it’s mostly about the actors)
Vijay: Ghilli (good example of a masala film, everyone’s favourite), Kushi (romance - the kind where you’re yelling JUST TALK IT OUT ALREADY), Sachein (just.. watch it and smile), Thullatha Manamum Thullum (the title means ‘even the heart that doesn’t jump will jump’ and it’s a perfect title because it will make you cry and put you back together)
Kamal Haasan: Dasavatharam (it’s about biowar with the backdrop of religion), Vishwaroopam (the only film about muslims and terrorism I actually care about, really well done), Uttamavillain (basically the concept of the artist being mortal while the art itself is immortal), Anbe Sivam (watch watch watch), Vasool Raja MBBS (since all of these are so serious, this one’s a comedy)
Rajinikanth: just watch everything? tbh? this man is like the Beyonce of music or Chuck Norris of hollywood action or whatever cultural epic icon you can think of. But Padayappa for sure since it has one of the most iconic villains of all time.
Suriya: Ghajini (later remade in Hindi, it’s a revenge movie about a businessman with memory loss), Silinu Oru Kaadhal (romance between an arranged couple and one later finds out he had a previous love, the lead couple got married right after this film was released and they’re the power couple of our industry tbh)