Story: Soon after taking the political plunge, NT Rama Rao sweeps the elections and is elected as CM of Andhra Pradesh. But he’s a political novice and his political foes seek to take advantage of it. When his own Finance Minister plans a coup against NTR, will he be able to fight back?
Performances: Nandamuri Balakrishna continues from where he left in the first part of the biopic, NTR – Kathanayakudu. As we have mentioned in the review, the old age part of NTR has suited the star well as its more close to his age. He picks up the mannerism of his father well and builds on it to deliver a likeable performance. The point to remember here is that Balakrishna has made the part likeable and a lot of it is due to the connection with the aggressive body language of the NBK. In short, we see more of Balakrishna rather than NTR on the screen which makes it “likeable” for the fans, but doesn’t become a memorable lifetime role for movie lovers in general. While he succeeds on the former count, he fails on the latter aspect.
Krish has better focus narrative wise on the second part compared to the first. The reason is simple; there are no deviations for ‘cinematic’ purposes. It is also the weakness of the biopic. With no ‘real’ engaging story to tell and it being all about politics and that too only a small part, the whole thing treads the line of propaganda. And on that score, it doesn’t really make a substantial impact.
While watching the opening one is sure to get a feeling that if they could showcase the entire first part and more in five minutes through a song, couldn’t they have done the same with the young age ‘hero’ portions of NTR. The showcasing the rise of NTR as an icon could have been completed briefly in the opening half an hour, and the rest could have been about his political journey. It would have helped avoid the propaganda tag as well.
After a nice opening, we straight away jump into the political activity of NTR. The beginning portions are okay. It gathers momentum with the arrival of Indira Gandhi’s character and continues until the victory. Post that, the energy dips and is again raised with the dissatisfaction of government employee’s block over the retirement age. The whole sequence is neatly executed conveying three different issues related to the governance of NTR, the scheming nature of Nadendla Bhaskar and the saviour of the hour Chandra Babu Naidu.
However, the politics soon gives way for emotional family drama involving the husband and the wife angle. It is an asset and drawback for the movie, as it takes a very regular and predictable path and bores the audience despite all the sincerity shown by the actors on screen. The interval sequence is flat, and we get a feeling of the first half being very lengthy due to the mixing of family and political drama.
The second half in comparison is fast and gets over quickly. The central theme here is agenda driven with the sole purpose of elevating the party leader and the party and in doing so highlighting the role of Chandra Babu Naidu. The sequences involving CBN are okay, but again the drama and everything else happening ‘politically’ is boring. The climax ends on a melodramatic note that is non-political which again undoes all the build-up to that point.
Overall, there are segments in NTR – Mahanayakudu which work, but those are few in a two-hour length film. The husband and wife drama brought in for emotional appeal is very routine and so is the political development. In the end, NTR – Mahanayakudu is a propaganda film that fails in doing what it wants to do, as the narrative gives a clear indication that makers are undecided on what to do. There is a constant feeling of something missing that makes viewers disconnected eventually.
Vidya Balan continues from where she left. The character is neatly done adding a lot of respect. Rana in the role of CBN is his usual self playing a calculative person. If not for the modulation, he could very well have been playing Jogendra from Nene Raju Nene Mantri. Kalyan Ram is one dimensional and unremarkable. Sachin Khedekar is fine in his part. Supriya Vinod looks like the character she plays, but when it comes to acting, it is like doing a parody. The dubbing and expressions are to be blamed here. Vennela Kishore, Bharat Reddy, Daggubati Raja, and others are alright.
Music by MM Keeravani is alright. The good thing is that they are placed well in the narrative. The background score is decent. The cinematography is neat. The editing could have been better, especially in the first half. The dialogues by Sai Madhav Burra are superb, and they add significant value to the sequences.
Review: Just over a month after its first part NTR: Kathanayakudu, the much-awaited political journey of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao came to life in Krish Jagarlamudi’s NTR: Mahanayakudu. Right at the outset, the audience has an idea about what’s going to unfold in front of them for the next couple of hours – NTR’s political journey is well documented after all. And yet, the filmmaker seems confused about what kind of a film he wants it to be – a love story or a dramatic thriller – and as the film progresses, it becomes a mix of both, and less of a biopic that it’s meant to be. Everything about this biopic seems to have been carefully thought out.
The film takes off from where Kathanayakudu ends – with NTR (played by Nandamuri Balakrishna) taking the political plunge. He’s seen as a political novice, almost dismissed as ‘just an actor’ by seasoned politicians. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, advances AP elections by eight months, in an attempt to catch NTR by surprise and blow him away. But NTR has people on his side, and he sweeps the election – there’s a telling moment that signifies the change in political winds when people leave Indira Gandhi’s rally to join NTR’s. The film actor becomes the Chief Minister, aided by Nadendla Bhaskar Rao (Sachin Khedekar) who joins his cabinet as the Finance Minister.
Soon after winning the elections, NTR inducts his son-in-law. Chandrababu Naidu (Rana Daggubati) into the party. A shrewd politician, Naidu mobilises the party workers to ensure continued success for NTR. However, things take a turn when NTR’s wife Basavatarakam (Vidya Balan) gets diagnosed with cancer and NTR has heart issues. As NTR flies to the US to get an open-heart surgery while his wife undergoes cancer treatment, back home Bhaskara Rao stages a political coup to upstage NTR and take over the CM seat himself. How NTR fights back against the unjust coup against him makes for the rest of the film.
As was the case in the first part, NTR is shown as a holier than thou figure, who has a magic wand that brings people closer to him. The journey of him getting elected goes by in a flash – all he has to do is take a dusty old vehicle, turn it into a ratham and campaign among the masses. The film regularly switches to the love story between NTR and Basava Tarakam, which gets a tad too melodramatic right till the end. Basava Tarakam is shown as NTR’s backbone and interestingly, is shown to convince NTR to fight back against Bhaskara Rao when he stages the political coup against him. “Come back when you become CM again,” an ailing Basava Tarakam tells him.
A coup that lasted 31 days makes up for the majority of this ‘biopic’, with ample cinematic liberties taken, especially during scenes involving the assembly sessions. Nandamuri Balakrishna as NTR takes some getting used to but he seems to be more at ease playing the older version of NTR than the younger self seen in the first part. Vidya Balan gets a meaty role and sinks her teeth into it, while Sachin Khedekar is effective as usual. But the surprise element is Rana Daggubati, who does a splendid job as Chandrababu Naidu. His look and dialogue delivery is spot on and he’s extremely convincing and relatable as the younger Naidu.
As far as political biopics go, NTR:Mahanayakudu The focus is clearly on parts the makers want to show and even while glorifying NTR, the focus is on his governance or policies and more on the awfully stretched slug fest between NTR and Bhaskara Rao and taking the fight to Delhi.
But for all the euphoria surrounding the legendary actor-politician, NTR:Mahanayakudu shows only parts of one term of a three-term CM.
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