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Top 10 Directors in South India: Masters of Cinema, Box Office Hits, and Awards

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by SPN Editor

The South Indian cinema boasts some of the most talented and visionary directors in the world of film. These directors in South India have not only left an indelible mark on regional cinema but have also enchanted audiences on a global scale.

There are dozens of great South Indian directors from the South film industry. Here we are selecting those directors who have given us more than 3-4 Box office movies. We pay homage to the top 10 directors from South India, highlighting their remarkable contributions, box office triumphs, and prestigious accolades.

  1. S.S. Rajamouli: The Creative Genius Behind South Indian Epics

Notable Films: “Baahubali: The Beginning” (2015), “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” (2017), “Magadheera” (2009), “RRR” (2022)

Awards: Academy Awards for Best Original Song, National Film Award for Best Feature Film, Multiple Filmfare Awards

S.S. Rajamouli, the visionary storyteller, is celebrated for his epic narratives and grand cinematic spectacles. His monumental work on the “Baahubali” series has set new benchmarks for South Indian cinema on a global stage.

SS Rajamouli’s film ‘RRR’ has made history at the 95th Academy Awards by winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for its smash hit track ‘Naatu Naatu.’ The Telugu epic has been on a winning streak, previously earning accolades like a Golden Globe and multiple awards at the Critics’ Choice Awards and LA Critics’ Awards.

SS Rajamouli is one of the best directors in South India.

‘RRR’ became an international phenomenon after its release on Netflix, with ‘Naatu Naatu’ going viral and sparking numerous recreations of its iconic hook step. The film, released in March last year, enjoyed immense success in India and internationally, particularly in the USA, Europe, and Japan. With Hollywood filmmakers, actors, and audiences praising the movie, ‘RRR’ is now a frontrunner in 2023 year’s award season.

2. Shankar: The Architect of South Indian Extravagance

Notable Films: “Enthiran” (2010), “Sivaji” (2007), “Indian” (1996)

Awards: National Film Award for Best Special Effects, Multiple Filmfare Awards

Shankar is renowned for his larger-than-life films that often delve into pertinent social issues. “Enthiran,” featuring Rajinikanth, was a groundbreaking sci-fi marvel that pushed the boundaries of South Indian cinema.

3. Mani Ratnam: The Master of Emotions in South Indian Cinema

Notable Films: “Dil Se” (1998), “Roja” (1992), “Nayakan” (1987)

Awards: Multiple National Film Awards, Multiple Filmfare Awards

Mani Ratnam’s films are known for their intricate storytelling and exploration of human emotions. “Dil Se” and “Roja” not only captivated Indian audiences but also garnered international acclaim.

4. Gautham Menon: The South Indian Poet of Romance

Notable Films: “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa” (2010), “Minnale” (2001), “Kaakha Kaakha” (2003)

Awards: Multiple Filmfare Awards, Tamil Nadu State Film Award

Gautham Menon is celebrated for his heartfelt love stories and authentic portrayals of human relationships. “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa” remains a timeless classic, cherished for its emotional depth.

5. K.S. Ravikumar: The Versatile South Indian Storyteller

Notable Films: “Muthu” (1995), “Padayappa” (1999), “Dasavathaaram” (2008)

Awards: Tamil Nadu State Film Award, Multiple Filmfare Awards

K.S. Ravikumar has directed films spanning various genres, from action-packed blockbusters to heartwarming family dramas. His collaborations with Rajinikanth have yielded numerous box office hits.

6. Sukumar: The Modern Visionary of South Indian Cinema

Notable Films: “Rangasthalam” (2018), “Nannaku Prematho” (2016), “Arya” (2004)

Awards: Multiple Filmfare Awards, SIIMA Awards

Sukumar is known for his contemporary storytelling and innovative narratives. “Rangasthalam” received widespread acclaim for its portrayal of rural life and compelling characters.

7. A.R. Murugadoss: The Action Maverick of South Indian Cinema

Notable Films: “Ghajini” (2008), “Thuppakki” (2012), “Kaththi” (2014)

Awards: Multiple Filmfare Awards, Vijay Awards

A.R. Murugadoss is renowned for his high-octane action films that often tackle pressing societal issues. “Ghajini” marked a milestone in South Indian cinema, crossing the ₹100 crore mark and setting new standards.

8. Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam (G. R. Subramaniam): The Pioneer of Early South Indian Cinema

Notable Films: “Chandralekha” (1948), “Manthiri Kumari” (1950), “Mangalya Balam” (1951)

Awards: Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Multiple Filmfare Awards

G.R. Subramaniam, affectionately known as Gopala Ratnam, was a trailblazing filmmaker in the nascent years of South Indian cinema. His films, including “Chandralekha,” laid the foundation for future generations of directors.

9. Vetrimaaran: The Contemporary Voice of Tamil Cinema

Notable Films: “Aadukalam” (2011), “Visaaranai” (2015), “Vada Chennai” (2018)

Awards: National Film Award for Best Feature Film, Multiple Filmfare Awards

Vetrimaaran’s films are known for their gritty realism and unflinching portrayal of societal issues. “Aadukalam” and “Visaaranai” are lauded for their compelling narratives and powerful performances.

10. Atlee: The Young Maestro of South Indian Cinema

Notable Films: “Mersal” (2017), “Theri” (2016), “Bigil” (2019), “Jawaan” (2023)

Awards: Vijay Awards, South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA)

Atlee, the rising star from Tamil Nadu, has carved a niche with his commercial entertainers. His collaborations with Vijay, especially “Mersal” and “Bigil,” have struck gold at the box office.

His latest film “Jawaan” became the highest grosser Bollywood movie. Jawaan is now the record-breaking film of Shah Rukh Khan as well.

South India has bestowed upon the world a remarkable cadre of directors who have not only entertained but also inspired millions. From S.S. Rajamouli’s epic fantasies to the poignant tales spun by Mani Ratnam, these directors have shaped the cinematic landscape.

Their box office triumphs and numerous awards stand as a testament to their storytelling brilliance and artistic vision. As they continue to push boundaries and capture hearts, Directors in South India remain a beacon of creativity and innovation in the realm of film.

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