NTR Mahanayakudu Review: Indulgent narrative showcasing partial truths
What is positioned as the political journey of Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao, ends up glorifying his son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu, as the lone saviour of TDP
The second instalment of NTR’s biopic, NTR Mahanayakudu starts after the events of the first film -- NTR Kathanayakudu -- just as the veteran actor begins his political journey by sketching the party logo. He decides to embark on a tour on a chaitanya ratham (the election campaign vehicle) and wins the election to be the Chief Minister.
Cast: Balakrishna, Vidya Balan, Kalyan Ram
Director: Krish Jagarlamudi
Unhappy with NTR’s coronation, a faction led by his Finance Minister Nadendla Bhaskara Rao (Sachin Khedekar) often blames NTR for his style of functioning and approach to governance. The group plans a coup within the party at the behest of the central government headed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to snuff out the opposition. NTR, who takes some time to figure out Bhaskar Rao's motivations, expels him from his cabinet, but gets upstaged from the chief minister’s office. Rao’s actions trigger public outrage and NTR gets timely assistance from his son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu (Rana Daggubati), who shields 161 MLAs to parade before President Giani Zail Singh and takes the fight right to Indira’s turf, Delhi. Rana as CBN delivers a crackling performance and the best way to describe his performance would be to say that you can’t separate the character from the actor. He uses his eyes effectively to convey hurt and anger.
The film is a mix of political and family drama that revolves around a feud within the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). It’s about the extent to which people will go to betray democracy, in their greed for power, and seek revenge to humiliate one man who stood tall against all odds.
The first hour is quite engaging, but the narrative derails in the second hour because director Krish fails to capture the spirit of NTR's story with adequate sensitivity. What is positioned as the political journey of Nandamuri Taraka Ramarao, ends up glorifying his son-in-law, Chandrababu Naidu, as the lone saviour of TDP. Krish decides to tell this story his way, infusing it with a lot of cinematic liberty.
Too much of melodrama leads to the narrative falling into a slump of sorts. The film begins to move at a sluggish pace as family and politics make way for lengthy talkie scenes that never seem to end. Even at a running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes, NTR Mahanayakudu seems way too long, repetitive and demands much patience on your part.
We empathise with Basavatarakam (Vidya Balan)'s character because her ordeal and concerns seem real, and the actor brings credibility to her character. Balakrishna acts with poise. He displays grit and looks so natural as the crushed, but ferocious NTR. Kalyan Ram and Vennela Kishore make their presence felt and Sachin Khedekar is impressive.
MM Keeravani’s music and background score provide some momentum to the film. The film is let down by a convenient script and its inability to show what made NTR a great leader (Mahanayakudu). With its indulgent narrative, this political saga doesn't tell you anything more than you already knew. All it does is set a perfect stage for Ram Gopal Varma's Lakshmi's NTR to show what Krish couldn't portray.