South Indian Films that have a Cult Following
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When two or more South Indian friends decide to grab a bite or gather for a drink, it is almost inevitable that they talk about movies. South Indians are inherently proud of their cinema and love to discuss the same with those who are unfamiliar; the vibrant characters, the impeccable comic timing of the actors, the natural flair for humor, and of course, their lofty inventive cinema.

South Indian films are often cited as the backbone of the Indian film industry because it is so full of its cultural heritage. In spite of the numerous other successes that have been made in the south Indian cine industry, following is a promising list of underrated south Indian cult films. These are some of those that were later critically appreciated and developed its stand by capturing the heart of its audience even years after its release.

Kireedam (Malayalam)

In this film, Mohanlal and Thilakan made an inspiring father-son pair that will be remembered for years to come. ‘Kireedam’ is a cult classic in Malayalam cinema that showcased the brilliance of AK Lohithadas and Sibi Malayil.

It is the kind of film that carries great value even today. A sequel to the film was discharged in 1993 titled ‘Chenkol’. It narrates Sethumadhavan’s story after his prison term and his life after getting back to society. The follow-up was equally heart-wrenching as Mohanlal managed to deliver a flawless performance as his character Sethumadhavan, which is considered as one of his on-screen acts.

Manichithrathazhu (Malayalam)

Manichithrathazhu was directed by Fazil and starred Mohanlal and Shobana. The epic tale revolves around a young couple Ganga (Shobhana) and Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) who are arriving at the ancestral “Tharavadu” mansion. Ignoring the protests of their superstitious uncle Thampi (Nedumudi Venu), they move into the mansion, when unusual and supernatural events begin to happen.
Though twenty- five years have passed since the film released, it remains unsurpassed when it comes to the thriller movie genre. Mysteries usually lose their excitement once we know who the culprit is, but this is one movie that doesn’t diminish in stature even after we discover all of its secrets. This is one film that plays mind games with its audience from the beginning to the end, which builds up a delicious terror that does not diminish even after repeated views; thus, completely deserving a cult status.

Pudhupettai (Tamil)

‘Pudhupettai’ is considered to be one of Selvaraghavan’s masterful works. Despite its negative reviews and poor response, the film has earned cult status, especially among youngsters. ‘Pudhupettai’ is a coming-of-age gangster film that chronicles the life of a gangster Kokki Kumar (Dhanush). Set in North Chennai, ‘Pudhupettai’ talks about Kumar’s journey from a petty criminal to the most powerful gangster in the city.
One interesting fact about the film is that it had veteran actor Kamal Haasan singing a song. The line ‘Theeya Velaiseyanum Kumaru’ became a pop-culture trend after the release of the film. Even after all these years, ‘Pudhupettai’ is still remembered by many for Dhanush’s stellar performance.

Sagara Sangamam (Telugu)

Sagara Sangamam is about a struggling Kathak dancer Balu (Kamal Haasan), who tries to make it big in the industry. Due to personal reasons and financial crisis, he constantly loses several opportunities. His life takes a drastic change when Madhavi (Jayaprada) comes to his rescue. Sagara Sangamam left the audience teary-eyed, especially for the ever remembered climax shot of Kamal Haasan, followed by Ilaiyaraaja’s melody.
Kamal Haasan learned Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Kathak especially for his character in Sagara Sangamam. This film has a huge cult following, and its influence can be felt in the innumerable dance films that have continued to follow.

Shankara Bharanam (Telugu)

Released in 1980 in Telugu, Shankara Bharanam is the first Non-Malayalam Movie that became a massive hit in Kerala. It was also one of the first Telugu movies dubbed into Malayalam and well received in the state.
Shankara Bharanam is unarguably the best Telugu film till date. It narrates the story of a Carnatic legend, Sankarabharanam Sankara Sastry. It also mentions the chasm between Classical and Western Music based on two people from different generations. Even after all these years, the film is and will be forever remembered for its climax scene and the song ‘Sankarabharanam’, that was composed by KV Mahadevan.

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