George Reddy movie review: An uninspiring take on an inspiring hero
Despite the noble intentions of director Jeevan Reddy to document the story of the unsung hero George Reddy, the film fails to touch our heart
Biopics offer viewers a chance to delve into the lives of inspiring personalities. At their best, they also create a sense of curiosity to know about different aspects of the person's life beyond what is the well-known. But what if such fascinating tales are shown devoid of emotion? The result would be George Reddy.
The film starts off in New York where George Reddy's (Sandeep Madhav) history is being researched by an aspiring filmmaker, Muskaan (Muskaan Khubchandani) for a documentary. She believes that the story of the founder of Progressive Democratic Students Union (PDSU), a research scholar from the Osmania University (OU) who was brutally murdered in his hostel in 1972, will stand as an inspiration to the present generation. Her quest to find out details about how George Reddy lived, fought, and influenced his generation forms the crux of this eponymous biopic.
From the opening sequence, we understand that George Reddy was a man of revolutionary thoughts, who was largely inspired by the ideologies of Che Guvera and Bhagat Singh. As the story flashes back to George Reddy's school days in Kerala, director B Jeevan Reddy hints that he isn't a regular child. We see him in the care of his single mother who is a master storyteller. After some skirmishes with his friends, he is shown as a raging kid, drawn to kalaripayattu.
Born in Kerala, the journey of George Reddy to Hyderabad is nothing short of an adventure. When he lands in OU as a teenager, George Reddy is a meritorious student with big goals, who strives hard to realise his dream. He believes that one can reach their goals only through proper learning, planning, and hard work. His is filled with a drive to help others. Paying no attention to his personal worries, George tries to educate his fellow students about their rights, inspire them to fight back, and puts his life in danger, fighting against religious fanaticism, tainted political system, oppression, caste injustice, and social discrimination. In one scene, a character warns George Reddy of the dire consequences of his actions and urges him to stop these violent practices.
Jeevan Reddy's intention in making this biopic is not just to bring to life this story of a student transitioning into an inspiring revolutionary leader. It's also an attempt to make the present generation sympathise, relate, and identify themselves with George Reddy's character. Muskaan approaches George's friend to find out why he carried a pistol with him on the campus. He asks what she hopes achieve by documenting George Reddy's story. She replies, "To change history." It's the director speaking to us. He wants us to see this courageous young man who placed ideology before self and ask ourselves, “Why did we lose this person at such a young age?”
But the film is difficult to get through. It turns quite preachy and gets its George Reddy to administer everything he learnt from books. He believes that violence has to be countered through violence and calls upon students to raise their voice against inequality and the oppression of the upper classes on the campus. Things get tedious in the second half as George's campaign goes beyond the OU campus and he sets out to inspire farmers and marginalised communities across the country.
The biggest problem is that the 153-minute film comes off as too contrived. It is also disjointed, and the narrative suffers gravely on account of flabby writing and uneven pacing. We feel nothing for the characters, except maybe George Reddy's helpless mother, Leela Varghese (Devika Daftardar).
A student leader with revolutionary zeal needs to be articulate about the message he wants to deliver, but none of George's speeches remain with us the moment we step out of the theatre. Some dialogues go overboard and the scene where George delivers his famous line — 'Jeena haito marna seekho, kadam kadam par ladna seekho' — hardly makes an impact.
The director seems uninterested in giving us the answers to many questions. We often end up feeling like an art student locked in a science laboratory, trying to learn about culture through experiments.
However, Sandy lends some credibility to the story with his performance. Devika Daftardar is stoic as George Reddy's mother, who keeps faith in her son's beliefs. Laxman Meesala steals the show with his balanced act and delivers some of the finest lines in the film. Satyadev Kancharana as a student leader is mostly underutilised in a role that lacks depth. While Manoj Nandam and Abhay Bethiganti shine in their roles, Muskaan – in a dual role – fails to deliver a competent performance.
George Reddy might be the tale of an unforgotten hero, but this uninspiring concoction is largely forgettable.