Director Surender Reddy sets up a magnum opus with the quest for freedom, probably in its first ever attempt but delivers uninspiring storytelling
You know of Mangal Pandey. But not much (or anything) about Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, a freedom fighter from Andhra Pradesh who rose against the East India Company sowing seeds for the famous 1857 revolt that shook the nation. The premise is promising. What makes it all the way more propitious is the fact that Reddy was an emperor who left his throne including the materialistic luxuries to fight against the British. But the content doesn’t stay with you in a consistent fashion. With lavishly grand canvas on offer, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy on one hand makes you salute the incredible efforts of the makers, but at the same time, makes you sulk for the drab nature of the narrative.
Watch the trailer here:
The film begins with 1857 revolt but goes back 10 years to narrating the story of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy (Chiranjeevi) who picked up weapons against the atrocities of the British who actually gave result to several people in the country realizing their worth against the evil Britishers.
Written by Paruchuri Brothers, the story at the stage of the idea is very good. In an age of biopics, this one definitely needed to be told and not only down south. The fact that the makers have released it in Hindi has actually made the reach go stronger manifolds. It is in fact a story that should have been told way back, but for some strange/unknown reason could never see the light of the day. What is the relevance of this today, you might ask. But the fact that such people existed in our country needed to come out, sooner or later, and this film right here does exactly that.
The scale at which the film is projected is huge, grand, and much opulent. Reminding you of Baahubali here, the film has its own feel and flavor, in terms of context and content. The ambitious nature of makers of going to such extreme level would have been questioned, but since the lead has been an emperor and it talks of multiple provinces at once, it makes all the sense.
The build up is strong; the positioning of the film early on attracts you when the characters are being introduced. Not just that, even the time period and the existence of various kingdoms has been explained well- all this to get you in the zone. This approach being out rightly smart of the makers, makes you connected to the setting of the entire story.
But the story begins to drift away and you don’t find yourself motivated. In a film of such genre, it should have evoked patriotism or at least a feeling of nationalism. But it doesn’t do so. In fact, the story seems a mundane tale just on the backdrop of freedom struggle, at many points withing the drama. You tend to get bored of the lengthy narrative.
The film in the second half gets interesting, especially when the commoners get into a war with 300 Britishers, leading to more such fights. The notions shown are noble- like the torture by the Britishers, leadership by one man, slow and gradual awakening of people pan India- but the way scenes are written don’t give you that emotional connect which can fill you with pride. At 170 mins, the film even in its pure soul is a slog. Unnecessary sequences add to the run time and don’t contribute in the larger frame adding to the woes.
Having said all this, the film gives you major adrenaline in the end credits. Do stay back.
Chiranjeevi in the lead role is magnificent. It’s not unknown that he is a superstar. Here also, he makes every scene belong to himself by shining in every bit. He lives the character of first an emperor and then a freedom fighter who sacrifices all, with so much sincerity that you believe in him without a question.
Sudeep as Avuku Raju is brilliant too, and adds layers in the plot with his measured act. Vijay Suthupathi as Raja Paandi is impressive, lending able support to the main lead. Jagapathi Babu as Veera Reddy too nails the act, by contributing in his effervescent capacity. Mukesh Rishi as Papa Khan is endearing. It must be noted that Syeraa takes the help of these emperors in his quest, hence their respective characters are idealistically supportive. And they have all stuck to their parts faithfully.
Nayanthara as Syeraa’s wife Siddhamma is simply outstanding. She looks gorgeous and acts well. While it looks initially that she would contribute in the plot, the makers have reduced her to being just the hero’s wife. It’s sad what they do her and also Tamannaah, who does full justice to what is required of her, but very little has been required. She still fares better than Nayanthara but alas!
Ravi Kishen is just okay in a character that’s easily forgettable. Amitabh Bachchan in a guest appearance is very much effective. Although he is underutilized, it’s a treat to watch him in this set-up nonetheless. Anushka Shetty renders surprise, and it’s actually very good. She leaves a mark even in such a small role.
Music by Amit Trivedi suits the album overall. There are a couple of soulful tracks in the film that gives the film the much needed soul. They are not memorable though. Background score by Julius Packium is a sure shot winner, for it crafts the film and it’s sensibilities in a way that it holds you tightly. A film of this genre made in such style demands a certain nostalgia and pride for your countrymen, and while the score remains true to the splendour, it also adds the hint of valour.
Cinematography by Ratnavelu is commendable for every frame. With intelligent use of lighting and framing, the camera does the half of the story telling. It’s a visual extravaganza where along with the camera, the production design team deserves standing ovation. The costume and make-up team too should be hailed for their effort that hits the bull’s eye. Not a single shot in terms of visual richness seems out of place.
Editing by A Sreekar Prasad is first rate. You can’t expect any less from this man. With a decorated filmography to his credit, he makes sure you are engrossed in the film, start to finish. While you feel dullness, note that it is due to lazy writing for that part. Editing never falls short. There are sequences that will draw thunderous applauds, only because they are edited so well.
A story that needed to be told is here. Irrespective of in what region it is made, this deserves to be watched by every Indian. The film gives strength to the Indian cinema as a whole, and makes you strongly believe yet again in the power of cinema with faith in great minds that invest not only money but their hard earned skills for the growth of this medium. Salutes to brave hearts who have laid their lives for the motherland.