Cinemania’s Top 10 Tamil Films of 2022 - CINEMANIA (2024)

Last updated: 31 December 2022

The Tamil film industry has had a fantastic year at the box office with most big-budget films (Ponniyin Selvan 1, Vikram, etc) and medium to small-budget films (Don, Thiruchitrambalam, Love Today, etc) setting the cash registers ringing not just in India but also in overseas territories.

Two Tamil films managed to earn more than ₹400 crores in ticket receipts globally – Ponniyin Selvan 1 and Vikram. Both are among the Top 5 highest-grossing Indian films in 2022.

For the first time in the history of Indian cinema in the UK, a Tamil film – Ponniyin Selvan 1 – emerged as the highest grossing Indian film in the calendar year with a total gross of £1.34M. The Mani Ratnam directorial is the fourth highest-grossing Indian film in the USA with $6.68M.

Below is Cinemania’s pick of Top 10 Tamil Films in 2022:

Film:Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu
Directed by: Gautham Vasudev Menon
Cast: Silambarasan TR, Siddhi Idnani, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Neeraj Madhav and Siddique
Produced by: Vels Film International
Release Date: 15 September 2022
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★☆☆

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Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu stars Silambarasan TR (Manmadhan, Silambattam) in a finely nuanced performance working his way up from being an unemployed young man in a Tamil Nadu village to an affluent gangster in the city of Mumbai.

The gangster saga is a rare film in which Silambarasan doesn’t play the star, doesn’t deliver “punch dialogues” and doesn’t perform any over-the-top action sequences – the actor breathes life into his character of Muthu without getting carried away by his star image.

Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon (Kaaka Kaaka) in a manner that bears no resemblance to the filmmaker’s past projects, Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu has an interesting story (B. Jeyamohan) and mostly entertaining screenplay (Gautham Vasudev Menon) despite a slow start and a brief lag in the second half along with an excellent background score (A. R. Rahman).

Film:Kalaga Thalaivan
Directed by: Magizh Thirumeni
Cast: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Nidhhi Agerwal, Arav and Kalaiyarasan
Produced by: Red Giant Movies
Release Date: 18 November 2022
Streaming on: Netflix

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★☆☆

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Kalaga Thalaivan revolves around an employee Thiru (well-performed by Udhayanidhi Stalin) in a vehicle manufacturing company which delivers a breakthrough high-mileage truck that sets its stocks soaring. However the company’s latest innovation also emits higher-than-permitted emissions which is initially kept confidential but ends up getting leaked to the press by a whistle-blower causing its stocks to crash. The company appoints a ruthless private investigator Arjun (Arav) to track down and knock off the whistle-blower resulting in a gripping cat-and-mouse game between Arjun and Thiru.

Directed by Magizh Thirumeni (Thadam), Kalaga Thalaivan is an interesting thriller with good performances despite the distracting romantic track and mediocre songs (Srikanth Deva).

Film:Sardar
Directed by: P. S. Mithran
Cast: Karthi, Raashii Khanna, Rajisha Vijayan, Chunky Panday and Laila
Produced by: Prince Pictures
Release Date: 21 October 2022
Streaming on: aha

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★☆☆

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Sardar, directed by P. S. Mithran (Irumbu Thirai, Hero), follows a police officer Vijay Prakash(Karthi) who actively promotes himself on social media so people can forget that he is the son of a spy-turned-traitor (also Karthi). His encounter with a social activist protesting against privatisation of drinking water leads him to the truth about his father.

Sardar offers the best first-half in Indian cinema in recent years with an engrossing screenplay (P. S. Mithran, Pon Parthiban, Roju, Binpu Ragu and Geevee) layered with several twists and turns, and unexpected revelations leading to the introduction of the titular character but then the film loses momentum in the second-half with illogical escape scenes and a stretched-out, unsatisfying climax.

Regardless of its flaws, Sardar deserves to be watched for its important message about the consequences of privatisation of drinking water and for highlighting the contributions of spies in keeping the nation secure.

Film:Vikram
Directed by: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Faasil, Narain, Gayathrie Shankar, Kalidas Jayaram
Produced by: Raaj Kamal Films International
Release Date: 3 June 2022
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★☆☆

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Kamal Haasan (Hey Ram) makes a remarkable comeback with action-thriller Vikram, directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj (Master) with fantastic performances from Fahadh Faasil (Malayankunju) playing the head of a black-ops team tracking down the leader (Kamal Haasan) of a group of masked vigilantes, and Vijay Sethupathi (Vikram Vedha) playing a notorious regional leader of a drug cartel.

The first hour of Vikram is highly-entertaining with excellent background score (Anirudh Ravichander) as Fahadh Faasil’s Amar carries out his investigation leading him to his main man (who it is becomes predictable as the film progresses) and then the second-half focusses on the battle between the protagonist and antagonist leading to an overstretched climax. Despite a few brilliant scenes in the second half (Agent Tina and Agent Uppiliappan), the film focusses heavily on action sequences that drastically affect the screenplay towards the end before a stunning cameo lights things up setting the premise for a sequel.

Film:Ponniyin Selvan 1
Directed by: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Prabhu, R. Sarathkumar, Vikram Prabhu, Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Rahman and R. Parthiban
Produced by: Lyca Productions and Madras Talkies
Release Date: 30September2022
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★☆☆

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Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan 1, based on Kalki’s celebrated 1955 novel of the same name, boasts of a magnificent star cast led by Vikram (Anniyan), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Bride and Prejudice), Karthi (Sardar), Jayam Ravi (Comali), Trisha (Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya) and Sarath Kumar (Pachaikili Muthucharam) – all of them doing tremendous justice to their characters.

The epic film has marvellous production design (Thota Tharani), impressive costumes (Eka Lakhani) depicting life in the period of Cholas (3rd century BC – 1279 AD) and outstanding background score (A.R.Rahman).

Ponniyin Selvan 1 is mostly engrossing with an incredible story (Kalki Krishnamurthy) and brilliant performances, however it lacks high-octave moments like RRR or Baahubali (needed better screenplay) and suffers from shaky camera issues in some crucial scenes.

Film:Love Today
Directed by: Pradeep Ranganathan
Cast: Pradeep Ranganathan, Ivana, Raveena Ravi, Yogi Babu, Sathyaraj and Raadhika Sarathkumar
Produced by: AGS Entertainment
Release Date: 4 November 2022
Streaming on: Netflix

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★½☆

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Pradeep Ranganathan, the director of Comali (2019), makes his feature film debut as a lead actor in Love Today that revolves around a young man Uthaman Pradeep (Pradeep Ranganathan) and his girlfriend Nikitha (Ivana) who are bizarrely forced to swap their mobile phones for a day by Nikitha’s father Venu Shastri (Sathyaraj) when they ask him for his consent to their marriage. Venu Shastri says he is happy to accept their relationship if they are still in love after the challenge ends.

Uthaman and Nikitha reluctantly agree to the deal resulting in skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard as they learn each other’s secrets that they had kept hidden from one another during their relationship.

Pradeep Ranganathan delivers an entertaining romantic-comedy-drama with a novel storyline, witty and hilarious dialogues, excellent performances from himself, Ivana, Satyaraj, Radikaa Sarathkumar, Raveena Ravi and Yogi Babu and good background score by Yuvan Shankar Raja whilst exploring themes like addiction to mobile phones, trust issues between two people in a modern-day relationship and body-shaming.

Film:Don
Directed by: Cibi Chakaravarthi
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, S.J.Suryah, Priyanka Arul Mohan and Samuthirakani
Produced by: Lyca Productions and Sivakarthikeyan Productions
Release Date: 13 May 2022
Streaming on: Netflix

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★½☆

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Coming-of-age comedy-drama Don is Sivakarthikeyan’s (also the co-producer) finest film in recent years. The actor essays the role of a engineering student Chakaravarthi (Sivakarthikeyan) trying to figure out what his passion is and constantly at odds with the expectations from him as a son and a student, enraging his father (Samuthirakani) and the dean of his university (a brilliant S.J. Suryah) who want him to abide by the rules of the institution and successfully complete his civil engineering degree.

After the successful Doctor (2021) in which Sivakarthikeyan played a subdued role, the actor brings out his enormous energy and lights up the screen with a fantastic performance as he takes on his dean, squabbles with his dad, romances his girlfriend (Priyanka Arul Mohan), leads the student union and at the same time goes on to discover what his real passion and achieves it leading to an unpredictable and emotional climax.

Film:Natchathiram Nagargiradhu
Directed by: Pa. Ranjith
Cast: Dushara Vijayan, Kalaiyarasan and Kalidas Jayaram
Produced by: Yaazhi Films and Neelam Productions
Release Date: 31August2022
Streaming on: Netflix

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★½☆

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Acclaimed Tamil director Pa. Ranjith (Kaala, Sarpatta Parambarai) has been consistently going up one level with each of his films and his latest film elevates the filmmaker to a whole new level. Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is one of the best Tamil films in recent years and is themed around love in all forms (a progressive theme in Tamil cinema), caste and honour-killings.

The musical drama revolves around a theatre group with varied and contradicting opinions, who set out to perform a play on love that sheds light on their differences and eventually impacts their individual lives.

Dushara Vijayan delivers a terrific performances as the brave and outspoken Renéin one of the best characters written for a woman in Tamil cinema. Kalaiyarasan plays Arjun, a man with conservative upbringing, who delivers an outstanding performance in the film, especially in a splendid scene where he goes back home.

Apart from the performances of the cast, the other highlights of the film are its well-written and thought-provoking dialogues and excellent background score by Tenma in his first collaboration with director Ranjith.

Film:Mahaan
Directed by: Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Vikram, Simran, Dhruv Vikram and Bobby Simha
Produced by: Seven Screen Studio
Release Date: 10February2022
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★½☆

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Spanning three generations, gangster-drama Mahaanfollows Gandhi Mahaan (Vikram in his finest performance after 2015’s Ai) who is given that name by his Gandhian father and anti-alcohol campaigner.

Mahaan is a 40-year-old commerce teacher at a local school and lives with his wife Nachi(Simran) and son in a middle-class home, abiding by the teetotaller principles set by his father. One day when his wife and son go on a pilgrimage to Tirupati leaving him behind, Mahaan gives in to his long-held desire to drink and gamble unbeknownst to his wife who, upon discovering what he has been up to, walks out on him.

Left with nothing, Mahaan joins hands with a local bar owner Sathyavan (Bobby Simha in yet another terrific performance in a Karthik Subbaraj film), who turns out to be his childhood friend, and they both go on to become powerful liquor barons with political patronage from another childhood friend (Vettai Muthukumar). As Mahaan thinks he undefeatable, he comes across a ruthless police officer on a special mission to get rid of the liquor mafia, who happens to be Mahaan’s son Dada (Dhruv Vikram).

Mahaan has an intriguing story with engrossing screenplay (Karthik Subbaraj), scintillating background score (Santhosh Narayanan) and wonderful performances from the main cast. The script serves ample twists along its entertaining journey leading to a stunning climax. The film would have been a blockbuster had it released in cinemas.

Film:Thiruchitrambalam
Directed by: Mithran R Jawahar
Cast: Dhanush, Nithya Menen, Raashii Khanna, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Bharathiraja and Prakash Raj
Produced by: Sun Pictures
Release Date: 18August2022
Streaming on:Sun NXT

Cinemania’s rating: ★★★½☆

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At a time when most dramas were failing across the country and the box office experts began to declare that only epic big-budget action-thrillers (RRR, KGF Chapter 2, Vikram, etc) will be able to draw crowds to the theatres, Thiruchitrambalam– a simple family-drama with no action sequences or over-the-top scenes – released in cinemas to critical acclaim and box office glory defying all expectations.

Directed by Mithran R Jawahar, Thiruchitrambalamfollows the titular character shortened to Pazham (Dhanush) – a food delivery driver– as he navigates his relationships with his single dad and policeman (Neelakandan), who live under the same roof but are not on good terms with each other, his loving grandfather (Bharathiraja) and his childhood friend Shobhana(Nithya Menen) whilst also trying to woo his childhood crush (Anusha) and later a woman from his village Ranjani (Priya Bhavani Shankar).

Mithran R Jawahar weaves a entertaining comedy-drama around the above characters with outstanding screenplay, excellent dialogues and pulsating background score (Anirudh Ravichander), elevated by stellar performances from the main cast.

From start to end, Thiruchitrambalamis filled with several well-written scenes that you can’t stop admiring like the first face-off between the father and son, the conversations between Pazham and grandfather, Pazham’s first date with Anusha, Pazham’s overcoming his dislike for his dad and helping a wheelchair-bound Neelakandan when he falls off his bed, Pazham’s conversation with Ranjani where she questions his intentions and the scenes between Pazham and Shobhana.

Despite a predictable ending, Thiruchitrambalamis a joy to watch and its characters, scenes, dialogues and music will be etched in memory for a long time.

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