NTR Mahanayakudu review: A plain political drama
Despite crisp runtime which is just over 2 hours and Balakrishna sticking to one avatar, the film is filled with few exciting moments.
By: J Gudelli/Telugucinema.com
Critic's Rating: 2.5/5
Friday 22 February 2019
Nandamuri Balakrishna,Vidya Balan, Sachin Khedekar, Nandamuri Kalyan Ram, Rana Daggubati, Sumanth, Manjima Mohan, Vennela Kishore, Poonam Bajwa, Supriya Vinod
The part of NTR Biopic titled NTR Kathanayakudu began with Basavatarakam, NTR's wife, who was undergoing treatment in Madras hospital in 1984, looking at a photo album of her husband and recalling the memories and his life. Thus the story of NTR unfurled with him resigning his government job and heading to Madras and becoming a superstar. The first part ended with NT Rama Rao announcing his decision to launch the party of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982.
The second part of NTR titled NTR Mahanayakudu begins with a montage song that puts forth a collage of sequences from his birth to his marriage with Basavatarakam as the titles roll on. By end of the titles, the story is cut to 1982 where NTR is preparing to go to meet people on his Chaitanya Ratham. The rest of the movie chronicles how NTR rose to power by defeating formidable Congress party, his friendship with Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, the number two in TDP, and how Nadendla started feeling restless with NTR's centralized powers, and how NTR was backstabbed by Nadendla. The film then focuses on how NTR takes on Nadendla and Indira Gandhi to become CM again. It ends with the death of his ailing wife in 1985.
Even though the life story of NTR is divided into two parts to narrate it in a comprehensive manner, director Krish has not entirely covered the great actor and politician's life in these two parts. The second part solely focuses on the first three years of his political life. NTR had lost elections in 1989, he became chief minister again in 1994. He was dislodged from power seat in a coup led by his son-in-law Nara Chandrababu Naidu. And NTR died of a heart attack aged 72 in 1996. Neither of these two parts showed NTR's later life.
Coming to the second part, apart from showcasing how NTR became chief minister and how he was backstabbed by Nadendla, director Krish also on a parallel stream established the husband and wife's relationship in a more earnest and emotional manner. When he became CM for the first time, her health was deteriorating and also his heart needed surgery. When he returned to Hyderabad after completing surgery successfully, a coup was under planning. After winning a second term with a massive mandate, he returns home to share the joy, only to find that wife was on the deathbed.
The second part is structured well compared to the first part's "stagey" setting.
Despite this emotional thread between NT Rama Rao and his wife Basavatarakam, the film doesn't engage us as the proceedings of the political developments are treated in a matter-of-fact and in a whitewashing way. While this film expectedly shows Nadendla (played by Sachin Khedekar) as the villain, which is by and large truthful to the past incidents, it also overtly glorifies Nara Chandrababu Naidu, which is far from the truth. In the second half of NTR Mahanayakudu, one gets the impression that it was Naidu who actually maneuvered the victory against Nadendla than NT Rama Rao. The second half turns into a propaganda film for Naidu, who is currently chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
The film also has a documentary feel and turns monotonous after a point.
The moments between NTR and Basavatarkam and ending the movie with the beautiful song O Taraka< from NTR and Bhanumati starrer 1953 movie Chandirani impressed me the most than the political sequences.
As a director and writer, Krish has shown his mark somewhat better in comparison with the first part which had boring narration.
Nandamuri Balakrishna is terrific as his father NT Rama Rao as he is perfect in NTR's old-age look. Rana has got the look of Naidu perfect. Vidya Balan as Basavatarakam is remarkable. She has played the role in an endearing way. Sachin Khedekar as Nadendla steals the show. Vennela Kishore and Kalyan Ram are okay. Supriya Vinod as Indira Gandhi is good.
Of the songs, only Rajarshi makes an impact. The cinematography is neat. Since the film's runtime is 2 hours 8 minutes, the film looks racy compared to the first part which was nearly 3 hours.
NTR Mahanayakudu focusses on the eventful political life of NT Rama Rao before 1985. Despite crisp runtime which is just over 2 hours and Balakrishna sticking to one getup (aged NTR), the film is filled with few exciting moments. It is a document of the first three years of NTR's political life and tries to drive the message that Nara Chandrababu Naidu played "key role" in his father-in-law's political life. It also has a dialogue - "babu mamolodu kadu". In a nutshell, the film is a plain political drama.
Reactions on Social Media
Brahmani Nara @brahmaninara
#NTRMahanayakudu is an emotion packed, powerful, engaging epic. Congratulations to my father NBK for reliving the selfless passion and stamina of my beloved grandfather in bringing #TeluguPride. Enjoyed the brilliant performances and the crisp, flawless execution.
#TelugodiAthmaGauravam A life that truly deserved a tribute & a man who believed that With Power comes Responsibly & lived by it. No one could have made his journey better @DirKrish @mmkeeravaani garu @gnanashekarvs #NTRMahanayakudu Just go experience it
Nbk performance is like doing tiktok video imitation of SrNTR .
Is it compulsory to act like same as ntr .
Story , emotions important for biopic not characters mannerisms.
Huge disaster on the way.
Varun Kilaru @varunkilaru
#NTRMahanayakudu Putting the veracity of the events aside, @DirKrish makes a strong political film with an extremely riveting 2nd half.Though he does not embody NTR,NBK gives a superb performance but it is @vidya_balan n her scenes dat r d lifeline 4 the film! Assembly scenes
ram achanta @RaamAchanta #NTRMahaNayakudu Is an emotional journey of greatest Legend & THE pride of our Telugu people..MUST WATCH