Top 25 Telugu films of all time according to IMDb
Telugu films have emerged as superior than any other films in recent times and have garnered international attention; Here are the top 25 Telugu movies of all time according to IMDb ratings.
While Bollywood continues to struggle to deliver world-class films in the industry, Tollywood, also known as the Telugu film industry has emerged as one of the biggest film industries in recent times. Delivering global hits like the Baahubali saga, RRR, and the KGF series, Tollywood has garnered millions of new audiences in the past few years. So, in this article, we are going to list the top Telugu movies of all time, according to IMDb ratings.
However, before we move on to the list, let me tell you a bit about the Telugu film industry and its rich history. You can read about it right below or skip directly to the list of movies from here. Now, with that out of the way, let's dive right in, shall we?
Tollywood Film Industry: A brief history
The Telugu film industry is a segment of India's vast entertainment sector that focuses on making movies in the Telegu language. It is commonly known as the Tollywood industry (not to be confused with the Bengali film industry, which is also called the Tollywood industry).
The Telugu film industry emerged in the early 1900s. Since 1909, filmmaker and producer Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu produced various short films in the Telegu language and traveled to various parts of Asia to promote them. In 1921, R. V. Naidu produced a silent film named "Bhishma Pratigna", which is generally considered to be the first Telegu feature film. And Raghupathi V. Naidu came to be known as the "Father of Telegu Cinema."
Since then, the Tollywood industry has been producing and delivering high-class films. In 1933, director C. Pullayya's film "Sati Savitri" received was given an honorary diploma at the 2nd Venice International Film Festival. Moreover, released in 1951, the Telugu film "Pathala Bhairavi" was the only South Indian film screened at the first India International Film Festival. Furthermore, many Telugu films like Malliswari, Devadasu, Mayabazar, Maa Bhoomi, and others have been recognized internationally and have been listed on CNN-IBN's list of the "100 Greatest Indian Films of All Time."
Recently, films like Baahubali, KGF, RRR, and Pushpa: The Rise, have garnered international fame, primarily for their grand screenplay and gripping plotlines. And with great directors like S. S. Rajamouli, Trivikam Srinivas, Puri Jagannadh, and others working in the industry, the future seems pretty bright for Tollywood.
Top 25 Telugu movies of all time, according to IMDb
Below is a list of the top 25 Telugu movies of all time, according to their IMDb star ratings. If you have not watched any Telegu films yet, you can choose any one of the films below to start your Tollywood journey and you will not be disappointed.
However, it is worth mentioning that IMDb ratings are dynamic and they keep changing from time to time. This list was made according to an official IMDb list, featuring previous ratings. Nonetheless, this list covers all the time periods of Telugu cinema and gives an idea about some of the best Telugu films of all time.
1) C/o Kancharapalem (2018) | IMDb Rating - 8.3
Directed by Venkatesh Maha and produced by American filmmaker Praveena Paruchuri, C/o Kancharapalem is a critically-praised Telugu film that premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival in May 2018. It is a slice-of-life, anthology movie that follows four quirky love stories that are all set in Kancharapalem, a small neighborhood in Vishakhapatnam.
You can watch it right now on Netflix.
2) Mayabazar (1957) | IMDb Rating - 8.3
Released back in 1957, Mayabazar is an epic Hindu mythology film, directed by K. V. Reddy. The name Mayabazar means "a market of illusions" and the film follows a story, adapted from the folk tale "Sasirekha Parinayam", which is based on the mythological characters from the Hindu epic "Mahabharata."
You can watch it right now on Amazon Prime Video.
3) Jersey (2019) | IMDb Rating - 8.3
Jersey is a sports drama film that was originally released in 2019 in the Telugu language. The film follows a story of a struggling cricketer who returns to play professional cricket in his mid-30s because his son wanted an Indian team jersey as a gift. It was remade in Hindi in 2022 and starred Shahid Kapoor in the lead role.
In the original movie, however, the protagonist was played by South Indian actor Nani, who was highly praised for his performance as a failed cricketer who aspires to represent the national team someday. The movie is written and directed by Gowtam Tiannanuri and is deemed one of the best Telugu films, winning two National Film Awards and various other Indian awards.
You can watch Jersey right now on Disney+ Hotstar, Sony Liv, and MX Player.
4) Nuvvu Naaku Nachav (2001) | IMDb Rating - 8.2
Nuvvu Naaku Nachav is a 2001 romantic-comedy film directed by K. Vijaya Bhaskar. It is a light-hearted rom-com film that follows the story of Venky, played by Venkatesh, an unemployed undergraduate who moves to Hyderabad to find a job. The film was a commercial success and was remade in several Indian languages, including Tamil, Kannada, and Bengali.
You can watch Nuvvu Naaku Nachav right now on Disney+ Hotstar and MX Player.
5) Sita Ramam (2022) | IMDb Rating - 8.2
Sita Ramam is a Telugu language romantic drama directed by Hanu Raghavpudi. It is a story of an orphaned Indian Army officer who, after receiving anonymous love letters from someone named Sita Mahalakshmi, goes on a mission to find the girl and propose his love to her. It stars Dalquer Salmaan in the lead role and marks Mrunal Thakur's Telugu debut. The film also stars Rashmika Mandanna, who starred in Pushpa: The Rise alongside Allu Arjun, and Sumanth.
You can watch Sita Ramam right now on Amazon Prime Video.
6) Mahanati (2018) | IMDb Rating - 8.2
Based on the life of the legendary Telugu actress, dancer, singer, and director Savitri, Mahanati (translation: The great actress) is a biographical drama, written and directed by Nag Ashwin. The film stars Keerthy Suresh, playing Savitri, and Dalquer Salmaan, making his Telugu debut as Savitri's husband Gemini Ganesan. The film was highly praised by critics and went on to become the highest-grossing female-centric South Indian film, garnering global attention.
You can watch Mahanati right now on Amazon Prime Video and MX Player.
7) Aha Naa-Pellanta! (1987) | IMDb Rating - 8.2
Aha Naa-Pellanta (translation: Yeah, I'm getting married!) is a comedy-drama film, released in 1987. It was written and directed by Jandhyala and starred Rajendra Prasad in the lead role with Kota Srinivasa Rao, Nutan Prasad, and Brahmanandam in supporting roles. The film is considered to be one of the best comedy films of all time in Telugu cinema and was later remade in the Kannada language in 1990.
You can watch Aha Naa-Pellanta! right now on YouTube.
8) Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya (2019) | IMDb Rating - 8.1
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya is a Telugu language detective-comedy thriller, directed by Swaroop R. S. J. The film is led by one of the internet's popular stars Naveen Polishetty as the title character. Shruti Sharma, playing Sneha in the film, marked her Telugu debut with this movie. The film received a positive response at the box office as well as from the critics.
You can watch Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya right now on Amazon Prime Video and MX Player.
9) Aa Naluguru (2004) | IMDb Rating - 8.0
AA Naluguru (translation: Those four people) is a Telugu drama film, starring Rajendra Prasad and Aamani, that was released in 2004. It was directed by Chandra Siddhartha and also marked the return of Aamani to the Tollywood industry after a seven-year hiatus. The film was highly praised and won three Nandi Awards. It was also screened at the AISFM Film Festival.
You can watch Aa Naluguru right now on YouTube.
10) Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017) | IMDb Rating - 8.0
While Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, I would not recommend you watch this before watching the first part, Baahubali: The Beginning, which was released in 2015. The Baahubali saga is one of the best film series in the Telugu industry, which garnered international attention much before RRR. The films are directed by the iconic South Indian director S. S. Rajamouli and starred Prabhas, one of the biggest actors from the South, in the lead role.
Although the screenplay, special/ CGI effects, and the overall grandeur of the second part are superior as compared to the first part, Baahubali: The Beginning lays the foundation for the latter part to bloom. You can watch both the Baahubali films on Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, YouTube, and Sony Liv.
11) Bommarillu (2006) | IMDb Rating - 8.0
Bommarillu is a 2006 rom-com Telugu film, directed by Bhaskar. It stars some pretty popular names, including actors like Siddharth (who played the role of Karan in Rang De Basanti), Genelia D'Souza (now Deshmukh), Prakash Raj, and Jayasudha. The film primarily follows the story of a father and son duo, involving an overbearing father and an annoyed son. The film was a huge commercial success and garnered several Filmfare awards amongst others. It was also remade in multiple languages, including Tamil, Bengali, Odia, and Hindi.
You can watch Bommarillu on Voot right now.
12) Rangasthalam (2018) | IMDb Rating - 8.0
Rangasthalam is an epic period action drama film that was released in 2018. Written and directed by Sukumar, the film stars popular names like Ram Charan, whom we saw as Alluri Sitarama Raju in RRR, and Samantha Akkineni, who played the critically-acclaimed role of Raji in the hit Amazon Prime series Family Man. Rangasthalam is a story of two brothers who oppose the government and corrupt cooperative society in their village, named Rangasthalam. The film received high praise from critics for Sukumar's writing and the performances of the cast.
You can watch Rangasthalam right now on disney+ Hotstar.
13) Athadu (2005) | IMDb Rating - 8.0
Athadu is a Mahesh Babu-starrer action thriller Telugu film that was written and directed by Trivikram Srinivas. It was released in 2005 and starred the South star Mahesh Babu in the lead role. Trisha and Sonu Sood also played significant characters in the film along with supporting actors like Kota Srinivasa Rao, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam, Nassar, and Sayaji Shinde.
The film was a massive hit at the box office and went on to become one of the highest-grossing Telugu films, marking the resurgence of Mahesh Babu in the Telugu film industry after a few unsuccessful movies. You can watch Athadu on MX Player, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and Voot.
14) Sankarabharanam (1980) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Sankarabharanam (translation: The jewel of Sankara) is a Telugu musical drama movie, written and directed by K. Viswanath, that was released back in 1980. The film stars J. V. Somayajulu, Manju Bhargavi, Chandra Mohan, and Rajyalakhsmi. It is considered to be one of the best Telugu language movies. The film even won the "Prize of the Public" at the Besançon Film Festival of France in 1981. In fact, Forbes included J. V. Somayajulu on its list of "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema" for his performance in the film.
You can watch Sankarabharanam on Voot and MX Player.
15) Pelli Choopulu (2016) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Pelli Choopulu (translation: Matchmaking) is a Telugu romantic-comedy film that was released in 2016. The film is written and directed by Tharun Bhascker and features South star Vijay Deverakonda, who has garnered much attention for recent films like Liger, and Ritu Varma in the lead roles. The story of the film revolves around the two protagonists and is loosely based on a real-life story of a couple who started the popular "Spitfire BBQ" food truck in Bangalore back in 2014.
You can watch Pelli Choopulu on JioCinema right now.
16) Manmadhudu (2002) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Manmadhudu (translation: Cupid) is a Telugu rom-com that was released back in 2002. The film is directed by K. Vijaya Bhaskara and written by Trivikram Srinivasa, who directed the movie Athadu (listed above). It stars the South superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni, Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre, and Anshu Ambani. The film was a commercial hit and also received the Nandi Award for Best Feature Film of 2002.
You can watch Manmadhudu on Disney+ Hotstar right now.
17) Kshanam (2016) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Kshanam (translation: Moment) is a Telugu mystery thriller, released in 2016. It is directed by Ravikanth Perepu and features Adivi Sesh, who also co-wrote the film, and Adah Sharma as protagonists. The film revolves around Rishi, a San Francisco-based investment banker who comes to India to search for the missing child of his ex-girlfriend. It was a commercial success at the box office and also received positive reviews from critics. The film was also remade in Tamil as Sathya and in Hindi as Baaghi 2.
You can watch Kshanam right now on JioCinema.
18) Evaru (2019) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Evaru (translation: Who) is a nail-biting Telugu crime thriller film, starring Adivi Sesh, Regina Cassandra, Naveen Chandra, and Murali Sharma. The film is directed by Venkat Ramji and is somewhat based on the 2016 Spanish film "The Invisible Guest", which is directed by Oriol Paulo.
You can watch Evaru on Amazon Prime Video right now.
19) Mathu Vadalara (2019) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Mathu Vadalara (translation: Leave the intoxication) is a Telugu thriller-comedy film, directed by debutant Ritesh Rana. The title of the film was based on the lyrics of a song from a mythological film named "Sri Krishna Pandaveeyam." The film stars Sri Simha, Athulya Chandra, Satya, and Naresh Agastya in the lead roles and enjoyed a positive opening when it was released in 2019.
You can watch Mathu Vadalara on Amazon Prime Video right now.
20) Drushyam (2014) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Drushyam (translation: Visual) is a 2014 Telugu thriller, directed by Sripriya and starring Venkatesh, Meena, and Nadhiya. It is a remake of the 2013 Malayalam film Drishyam, which is also remade in Hindi as Drishyam in 2015, starring Ajay Devgn, Sriya Saran, and Tabu. It is a complete thriller and tells the story of a family that unintentionally gets into an unusual crime.
You can watch Drushyam right now on JioCinema.
21) Aditya 369 (1991) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Aditya 369 is a Telugu science fiction film that was released back in 1991 and was directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao. The film stars Nandamuri Balakrishna and Mohini in the lead roles, supported by actors like the late Amrish Puri, Tinnu Anand, and Suthivelu. The film is one of the very few science fiction films in the Telugu film industry and was loosely inspired by H. G. Wells' 1895 novel "The Time Machine."
You can watch Aditya 369 on MX Player.
22) Major (2022) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Major is a 2022 biographical action film based on the life of Major Unnikrishnan, who was martyred in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The film is directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka and was released in both Telugu and Hindi languages. It stars Adivi Sesh as Major Unnikrishnan with supporting actors Sobhita Dhulipala, Prakash Raj, Revathi, Murali Sharma, and a few others.
The film was produced by the South superstar Mahesh Babu under his G. Mahesh Babu Entertainment banner, along with Sony Pictures International Productions and A+S Movies. You can watch Major on Netflix right now.
23) Gamyam (2008) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Gamyam (translation: Destination) is a Telegu road film that was loosely based on the 2004 biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries." The film is directed by Krish and stars Sharwanand, Allari Naresh, and Kamalini Mukherjee. Following its release in 2004, Gamyam received four Nandi Awards and four Filmfare Awards South. It was also remade in Kannada as Savaari and in Bengali as Dui Prithibi.
You can watch Gamyam right now on Amazon Prime Video and Voot.
24) Vedam (2010) | IMDb Rating - 7.9
Vedam (translation: Chant) is a Telugu film written and directed by Krish. It is an anthology film, meaning the film consists of many short stories and stars various popular names like Allu Arjun, Anushka Shetty, Manoj Bajpayee, Manchu Manoj, Deeksha Seth, Lekha Washington, and Saranya Ponvannan.
You can watch Vedam right now on Voot and MX Player.
25) Prasthanam (2010) | IMDb Rating - 7.8
Prasthanam (translation: Reign) is a Telugu political-action drama movie that was released in 2010. The film is directed and written by Deva Katta and stars Sharwanand, Sai Kumar, and Sundeep Krishnan. It was the career debut of Krishnan, who has now become a pretty big name in the South film industry.
As for the success of the film, Prasthanam received two Filmfare Awards South and two Nandi Awards, following its release. It was also remade by Deva Katta in Hindi with the same title in 2019 and was deemed one of the "25 Greatest Telugu Films of the Decade" by Film Companion.
You can watch Prasthanam right now on JioCinema, MX Player, and YouTube.
With that, I come to the end of this list. However, before I conclude, I would like to mention some of the Telugu films that did not make it to the list but you should watch them anyway. These include Arjun Reddy (2017), RRR (2022), Thammudu (1999), Magadheera (2009), and Tagore (2003).
So, have you watched any of the Telugu films from this list? If not, which one are you planning to watch? Let us know in the comments below.