George Reddy review: Fictionalizes a great leader
George Reddy is a biopic of a student leader who won cult status
Critic's Rating: 2.75/5
Friday 22 November 2019
Sandeep Madhav, Abhay Bethiganti, Satyadev, Shatru, Manoj Nandam, Muskaan Khubchandani
1970. Osmania University, Hyderabad. A bright student George Reddy whose mother is a Malayalee enters into the campus of Osmania University to study physics. He has always been topper in studies but also has a violent attitude, always keeps a blade with him and plays with it. He doesn't tolerate injustice.
He takes up cudgels for students' rights, questions inequalities in the campus as well as in the society. Slowly, he becomes a threat to the other student groups, he becomes the new leader of the university. Elections for the student body are announced and all other groups try to get the upper hand. On the other hand, George Reddy's fighting spirit becomes a national topic. As his graph rises, the rivals vow to kill him.
After watching biopic movies of NTR and Savitri, whose life is mostly known to the general public, we have come to realize that Telugu filmmakers present the only positive aspects of the said personalities. At least, the biopic of Savitri tried to showcase a dark side of her life. Coming to George Reddy, a student leader who inspired many in India, his life is not much known to today's generation but there are various theories (good and bad) about his life. To some, he was a great leader who fought for the downtrodden, who crushed the right-wing forces, fought for farmers, raised the voice. For others, George Reddy was a rowdy, who brought weapons to the inside of a university and killed people.
Jeevan Reddy's movie touches both aspects, presents his violent side but mostly highlights the inspirational aspect of his life, student politics. However, much of his fight and student politics have been documented in various films in one way or the other. Tammareddy Bharadwaj's Alajadi was mostly based on incidents in George Reddy's life. Other aspects of student wars and nexus between politicians and student bodies have come in films like RGV's Shiva. So, the story of George Reddy is not entirely unknown to the majority of audiences, even for this generation.
George Reddy is a gold medalist, brilliant in physics. His mother hailed from Kerala. But why did he come to Hyderabad, who was his father is not shown in the film. He enters into the frame when some rowdies harass women on a bus. He beats them and writes his name on a seat. A mass-hero introduction for George Reddy! It is shown in the film that from his childhood in Kerala, George Reddy played with a blade, and beat anyone who rags him. He does the same in university. He studies about the Russian Revolution and develops leaning for left ideology, beats all the goondas in the university, questions mistreatment, gets rusticated for one year for student wars. All these sequences occupy much of the first half of the movie. We also see two other groups against him. The involvement of outsiders and politicians is also shown. These are pretty clichéd and predictable moments that we have seen in other movies.
The makers said this is a fictionalized version of his life story based on the information available in the public domain. But the director should have written more effective scenes to tell the same life story. His attempt to bring in a documentary filmmaker's character to narrate this story has not worked here. But the beginning portions are largely effective with cinematographer and music director bringing their talents to the fore. The fireball game and the interval bang are the best examples of this.
As the drama begins post-interval to establish to showcase that George Reddy also did fight for farmers, the movie turns flat. The film also becomes a collection of fragmented moments of his life. The organic story narration gets killed. Despite the aesthetically shot belt-fire sequence and blade fights, and his string speech of 'Jeena Hai Tho Marna Seekho', the film gets bogged down by the predictability.
All the scenes are narrated in a plain manner, hardly providing any emotional high. Also, the film is divided into two timelines - present and the past. The present timeline of a documentary filmmaker researching the life of George Reddy much like what Samantha did in Mahanati is ineffective. Perhaps this character is introduced is to tell that George Reddy didn't use the gun in his life as perceived by many. "Had he taken up the gun, the history would have written totally different," says the character.
Coming to performances, Sandeep Madhav as George Reddy is believable. He has put in a sincere effort. Abhay Bethiganti as his friend gets marks. Satyadev, Shatru, and Manoj Nandam as the student leaders are okay. Muskaan Khubchandani is neat.
The film mainly belongs to cinematographer Sudhakar Yekkenti and music directors. Sudhakar has filmed many sequences brilliantly, His hand-held camera movements are a delight to watch. Suresh Bobbili's songs and Harshavardhan's background score are a huge asset. Editing is not good, it needs a lot of trimming.
George Reddy, a biopic of a student leader who won cult status, has some good moments but it leaves much to be desired.