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Tales of Tension: Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

Tales of Tension: Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

Written by Sanjay Kumar                          

TV schedules today are the world of cinema. In the world of cinema, the thrill of a good suspense movie can send shivers down your spine, leaving you captivated by every twist and turn. The South Indian film industry has never fallen short in delivering gripping narratives that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. From nail-biting suspense to heart-pounding intrigue, here’s a look at the top 10 best South Indian thriller movies of all time that have left an indelible mark on the genre.

Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies Ever Made

01. Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru – 8.2/10

Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru | Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies Ever Made | Best Business Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2016 ‧ Thriller/Crime ‧ 1h 45m

  • Release date: 29 December 2016 (India)
  • Director: Karthick Naren
  • Producer: Karthick Naren
  • Music director: Jakes Bejoy
  • Languages: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu
  • Distributed by: Dream Factory

Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, a Tamil sleeper hit, takes us on a journey of a police officer, Inspector Deepak, who loses his leg while investigating a perplexing double murder case. Years later, he’s confronted with a series of events that force him to relive his haunting past. The movie excels in building tension through its intricate storytelling, backed by remarkable performances. The positive aspect lies in its masterful execution of suspense, with unexpected twists and turns that keep the audience guessing. However, some viewers might find the narrative pacing a bit slow in certain parts.

02. Drushyam – 8.4/10

Drushyam | Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2021 ‧ Drama/Crime ‧ 2h 33m

  • Release date: 11 July 2014 (India)
  • Director: Sripriya
  • Nominations: Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Telugu, MORE
  • Adapted from: Drishyam
  • Box office: ₹45.6 crore; (distributor share)
  • Budget: ₹6 crore

Drushyam, a Telugu remake of the Malayalam film Drishyam, stands as a testament to the brilliance of its source material. The story revolves around Rambabu, a cable operator, who becomes embroiled in a crime involving his family. The film strikes an emotional chord with its audience, portraying the lengths a father is willing to go to protect his loved ones. The strength lies in its captivating narrative that combines suspense with familial bonds. However, some critics argue that the film’s slow build-up might test the patience of those looking for instant thrills.

03. Visaranai – 8.4/10

Visaranai -Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2015 ‧ Thriller/Crime ‧ 1h 46m

  • Release date: 5 February 2016 (India)
  • Director: Vetrimaaran
  • Producers: Vetrimaaran, Dhanush
  • Nominations: Filmfare Award for Best Film – Tamil, MORE
  • Music director: G. V. Prakash Kumar
  • Awards: National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, MORE

Visaranai, a Tamil crime thriller, delves into the dark underbelly of the police force and the challenges faced by immigrants. The movie follows four laborers who are falsely accused of theft and subjected to brutal police torture. The film’s gritty realism and powerful performances are its standout features, shedding light on the harsh realities of society. The positive aspect is its thought-provoking social commentary, revealing the corrosive effects of power abuse. Some viewers, though, might be put off by its intense and graphic portrayal of violence.

04. Anjaam Pathira – 7.9/10

Anjaam Pathira –Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2020 ‧ Crime/Thriller ‧ 2h 24m

  • Release date: 10 January 2020 (India)
  • Director: Midhun Manuel Thomas
  • Music director: Sushin Shyam
  • Screenplay: Midhun Manuel Thomas
  • Producer: Ashiq Usman
  • Distributed by: Central Pictures

Anjaam Pathira, a South Indian suspense thriller, revolves around Anwar, a consulting criminologist who aids the Kerala Police in solving a series of gruesome serial killings. The movie’s strength lies in its intriguing plotline and Anwar’s race against time to catch the elusive killer. The film also highlights the complexities of criminal psychology, adding an extra layer of depth. However, some viewers may find certain elements of the narrative predictable, given the familiarity with crime thriller tropes.

05. Gultoo – 7.8/10

Gultoo –Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2018 ‧ Drama/Mystery ‧ 2h 7m

  • Release date: 30 March 2018 (India)
  • Director: Janardhan Chikkanna
  • Producers: Devraja R, Prashanth Reddy
  • Language: Kannada

Gultoo, a modern Kannada suspense thriller, takes on the theme of cybercrime, a topic highly relevant in today’s digital age. The story follows Alok, an IT employee who finds himself entangled in a cybercrime investigation that turns his life upside down. The movie’s contemporary relevance is its major asset, as it sheds light on the uncharted territory of cybercrime and its consequences. However, some viewers might feel that the technical jargon and intricate plot twists could be overwhelming for those less familiar with the subject matter.

06. Vikram Vedha – 8.2/10

Vikram Vedha- Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2022 ‧ Action/Thriller ‧ 2h 40m

  • Release date: 21 July 2017 (India)
  • Directors: Gayatri, Pushkar
  • Music director: Sam C. S.
  • Cinematography: P. S. Vinod
  • Dialogue by: K. Manikandan

Inspired by the legendary folklore of ‘Vikram Betaal’, Vikram Vedha offers a unique blend of action, drama, and philosophical depth. The movie stars Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in the lead roles, delivering stellar performances. A pursuit that starts as an honest police inspector’s quest for a dangerous criminal gradually evolves into a thought-provoking drama that tugs at your heartstrings. The film is a testament to the power of storytelling, seamlessly intertwining suspense with emotional resonance.

07. Kavaludaari – 7.9/10

Kavaludaari –Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2019 ‧ Thriller/Noir ‧ 2h 23m

  • Release date: 12 April 2019 (India)
  • Director: Hemanth Rao
  • Music director: Charan Raj
  • Producers: Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar
  • Language: Kannada

Kavaludaari, a Kannada police drama, distinguishes itself with its slow-paced narrative and intricate plot twists. The film’s strength lies in its deep character development and well-crafted performances. As a traffic constable seeks the help of a retired police officer to solve a puzzling case involving three skulls found near a metro construction site, the audience is drawn into a world of mystery and intrigue. For those who savor immersive narratives, Kavaludaari offers a satisfying journey.

08. Ratsasan – 8.3/10

Ratsasan –Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2018 ‧ Thriller/Crime ‧ 2h 50m

  • Release date: 5 October 2018 (India)
  • Director: Ram Kumar
  • Music director: Ghibran
  • Box office: 20 crores INR
  • Distributed by: Phars Film
  • Cinematography: P. V. Shankar

Get ready for a spine-chilling experience that delves into the depths of horror and psychological thrill. Ratsasan, a unique amalgamation of horror and suspense, follows Arun’s journey from aspiring filmmaker to determined police officer. Arun’s quest to track down a deranged killer targeting schoolgirls leads him down a path of dark secrets and unimaginable terror. This movie is not for the faint of heart, as it leaves an indelible mark on your psyche.

09. Mumbai Police – 7.9/10

Mumbai Police –Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2013 ‧ Mystery/Thriller ‧ 2h 25m

  • Initial release: 3 May 2013
  • Director: Rosshan Andrrews
  • Distributed by: Central Pictures
  • Cinematography: R. Diwakaran
  • Language: Malayalam
  • Music by: Gopi Sundar

The Malayalam film Mumbai Police delivers a narrative that is both gripping and emotionally charged. ACP Antony Moses, portrayed with finesse, grapples with partial memory loss after a fatal accident. As he seeks to solve a murder case, the intricate plot unveils layers of suspense and intrigue. The movie’s culmination is hailed as one of the best climaxes in Malayalam cinema, leaving audiences stunned and deeply satisfied.

10. U-Turn – 6.4/10

U-Turn -Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time | Business Connect Magazine
Top 10 South Indian Thriller Movies of All Time

2016 ‧ Thriller/Mystery ‧ 2 hours

  • Initial release: 28 April 2023
  • Directed by: Arif Khan
  • Story by: Pawan Kumar
  • Budget: ₹15 Crore
  • Cinematography: Anubhav Bansal

Prepare for an unsettling cinematic experience with U-Turn. This bilingual supernatural thriller features Samantha Akkineni and Aadhi Pinisetty in spine-chilling roles. The film’s eerie atmosphere and enigmatic storytelling promise to leave your mind reeling for days. The plot centers around a series of accidents caused by motorists taking a U-turn, with news intern Radhika being implicated in a string of murders she investigates. U-Turn is a rollercoaster of supernatural suspense that will leave you questioning your own reality.

In conclusion, South Indian cinema has graced us with an array of exhilarating thriller movies that continue to leave an impact on audiences worldwide. From the intricate storytelling of Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru to the emotional resonance of Drushyam, and from the social commentary of Visaranai to the high-tech intrigue of Gultoo, these films offer a diverse range of experiences within the thriller genre.

While each movie has its strengths and potential drawbacks, they collectively serve as a testament to the creative brilliance and storytelling prowess of the South Indian film industry. Whether you’re a fan of suspense, drama, or psychological intrigue, these movies are bound to keep you engaged from start to finish.


01. What is “Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru” about?

“Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru,” also known as “D-16,” is a Tamil thriller that revolves around a retired police officer’s investigation of a series of interconnected crimes. The movie unfolds through the officer’s recollections as he recounts his past to a young police officer.

02. How does “Drushyam” contribute to the thriller genre?

“Drushyam” is a Telugu thriller that follows the story of a common man who uses his wit and intelligence to cover up a crime committed by his family. The movie delves into the intricate web of lies and deception that unfolds as he tries to protect his loved ones.

03. What makes “Visaranai” stand out as a thriller?

“Visaranai” is a Tamil-language crime thriller that focuses on police brutality and corruption. The movie follows a group of innocent men who are subjected to torture and abuse by the police. It highlights the harsh realities of the criminal justice system.

04. How does “Anjaam Pathira” contribute to the thriller genre?

“Anjaam Pathira” is a Malayalam psychological thriller that revolves around a criminology professor who aids the police in solving a series of mysterious murders. The film keeps audiences on the edge of their seats as the professor unravels the intricate details of the crimes.

05. What’s unique about the movie “Gultoo”?

“Gultoo” is a Kannada techno-thriller that delves into the world of cybercrime. The film follows the journey of a software engineer who stumbles upon a series of fraudulent financial transactions and becomes entangled in a dangerous web of conspiracies.

06. What is the premise of the movie “U-Turn”?

“U-Turn” is a Kannada supernatural thriller that centers around a journalist investigating a series of mysterious deaths that occur at a particular U-turn on a road. As she delves deeper, she uncovers shocking secrets that put her life at risk.

07. How does “Vikram Vedha” captivate the audience as a thriller?

“Vikram Vedha” is a Tamil crime thriller that modernizes the classic Vikram-Betaal folktales. The film features a tense cat-and-mouse game between a police officer and a ruthless gangster, blurring the lines between good and evil.

08. What makes “Kavaludaari” noteworthy in the thriller genre?

“Kavaludaari” is a Kannada neo-noir thriller that follows a traffic cop’s quest to solve an old case involving skeletal remains found at a construction site. The movie intertwines past and present, uncovering hidden truths and dangers.

09. How does “Ratsasan” contribute to the South Indian thriller collection?

“Ratsasan” is a Tamil psychological thriller that revolves around a young aspiring filmmaker who becomes obsessed with solving a string of gruesome murders. The film explores the protagonist’s descent into the dark world of a serial killer’s mind.

10. What sets “Mumbai Police” apart as a thriller movie?

“Mumbai Police” is a Malayalam thriller that revolves around a police officer who loses his memory after an accident and struggles to solve a murder case in which he himself might be the prime suspect. The film’s twists and turns keep the audience engaged throughout.

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