Ustaad (2023)

Ustaad (2023)

A nostalgic Telugu coming-of-age drama that struggles to keep its engine running



Action, Comedy, Romance
Anu Hasan, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Kavya Kalyanram

Watch now

Powered by


This is motorbike propaganda.

What it's about

Co-pilot Surya Sivakumar is assigned for former mentor and tough captain Joseph D’Souza’s last ever flight. Through this flight, Surya tells the captain his story about his first motorbike, and how he learned how to overcome his fear of heights.

The take

With whole franchises dedicated to cars and motorcycles, cinema has often regarded these individually-piloted machines as intrinsically linked with masculinity. Ustaad is the latest Telugu love letter to motorcycles and planes, as these have shaped protagonist Surya Sivakumar’s life. In debut writer-director Phanideep’s hands, Surya’s journey to becoming a commercial airline pilot is a long one, as Ustaad details Surya’s first motorbike, first romantic relationship, and the way he overcame his fear of heights. It’s a fun drive, and there’s plenty of moments where Phanideep’s style feels free and unrestrained. However, it’s a drive that takes too long, with predictable beats that have been seen before.

What stands out

Ustaad feels too long because it tackles two stories. The first half is dedicated exclusively to Surya and his bike, while the second is his journey to becoming a pilot. However, what makes this film watchable is how in awe Phanideep seems to feel about motorcycles in general. The very first scene of Surya’s motorcycle feels like Surya has met the love of his life, with wind fans blowing dust off metal, and the rain slowly falling onto the chrome, as he pulls away the tarp covering the bike. The film easily excuses it as a random rainstorm, but the treatment feels very familiar. In another life, Phanideep must have been a bike commercial director, because the way these vehicles are portrayed makes me want to buy one.

Active Streaming Deals

$50 Off DirecTV Stream



Active Streaming Deals

69% Off NordVPN + 3 months Free



Active Streaming Deals

50% Off Sling



Active Streaming Deals

49% Off ExpressVPN




Add a comment

What did you think? Who should watch it?




RRR (2022)

An epic Indian action film that packs a mighty punch


Gandeevadhari Arjuna (2023)

A stylish Telugu bodyguard thriller with great action but strange pacing


The Duke (2021)

The loveable Jim Broadbent stars in this irresistibly endearing underdog story


Last Call for Istanbul (2023)

A seemingly generic Turkish romance travel film, until it gets into its second half


A Deadly Invitation (2023)

A Mexican whodunit that feels more like an infodump than a compelling murder mystery


The Conference (2023)

A Swedish slasher comedy with the world’s worst team building retreat


Nowhere (2023)

A riveting Spanish Netflix survival thriller brought to life in Anna Castillo’s performance


Totally Killer (2023)

A campy serial killer homage to the classic films of the 80’s


Frybread Face and Me (2023)

A gorgeous and tender coming-of-age addition to the Indigenous New Wave


Elena Knows (2023)

A moving mother-daughter drama based on a Booker Prize shortlist novel


Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2023 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.