It's a year to celebrate the heroes of the 19th century. While Kangana Ranaut brought the more popular Rani Lakshmibai's heroism to life in Manikarnika, Telugu veteran Chiranjeevi steps into the shoes of a freedom fighter even before that. After Baahubali, will another Telugu film set a benchmark for Indian film industry? Read on:
Director: Surender Reddy
Cast: Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan, Nayanthara, Tamannaah Bhatia, Sudeep, Vijay Sethupathi, Ravi Kishan, Jagapathy Babu, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy
Genre: Period action drama
Date released: October 2, 2019
CBFC rating: U/A
Duration: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Reviewer rating: 3.5/5
Britishers are establishing their rule across India. Citizens are forced to pay tax for land and other belongings of their own, or part with their foodgrains. However, in Renadu, Narasimha Reddy (Chiranjeevi) wouldn't adhere to the foreigners' rule and seeks to not just oppose, but throw them out of the country.
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is set in 1840s Renadu, where the villagers are troubled with the Britishers imposing their rule in their country. Narasimha Reddy is a Palegaar (Minister-like position) tipped for greatness by his Guru (Amitabh Bachchan). He not just takes on the Britishers head on, but is a hero for the villagers, saving them from every crisis. Narasimha Reddy falls in love with Lakshmi (Tamannaah Bhatia) and wants to marry her. However, they part ways when he realises that he had got married to Siddhamma (Nayanthara) in childhood, and now has to formalise the relationship. Meanwhile, the oppression by the Britishers infuriates Narasimha Reddy and he tries to bring his fellow Palegaars (Ravi Kishan, Jagapathy Babu, Sudeep) on the same page in his mission against the Britishers. However, not all join him, and some have their own motives. Both Narasimha Reddy and the Britishers want to eliminate each other at every cost, and how they plan and plot each other’s downfall forms the rest of the story.
It’s a story we have seen countless times like every movie based on the freedom struggle, the Britishers establish their dominance, demand their ‘Lagaan’, trouble the villagers and a hero emerges. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is no different. But this Surender Reddy directorial has two factors that its predecessors perhaps didn’t have, one is visual brilliance and the other, Chiranjeevi.
It’s a Chiranjeevi show all the way. So much so, that not one member from the supporting cast, comes anywhere close to him in terms of screen time. Chiranjeevi puts tremendous life into the character of Narasimha Reddy, be it while romancing the ladies, expressing sorrow or anger, mouthing whistle-worthy one-liners, bravely threatening the British higher-ups or slicing them at a breakneck speed. His act in the end, be it in terms of dialogue delivery or intensity, will be considered among his best. This movie will, without a doubt, go down in history as one of Chiranjeevi’s best films and performances of all time, and for some, it will be the best. It won’t be surprising if he is honoured with a National Award for this performance. Chiranjeevi fans would be hooting, whistling and clapping on their seats with his one-liners and particularly the climax, that is for sure and there couldn’t have been a better way to pay tribute to Narasimha Reddy.
The same, however, can’t be said about the supporting cast. Amitabh Bachchan is only seen in a cameo, which the makers seem to have used to bring in some Hindi audiences, though it’s a delight to see two ‘Megastars’ in one frame. Tamannaah Bhatia and Nayanthara, have brief roles, but look stunning and do a decent job. None of the others, however, stand out.
Where Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy actually scores is in the technical departments. The action sequences are brilliantly shot by R Rathnavelu, be it the horse-riding, war sequences or explosions, and are extremely well-choreographed with no major loose ends. The first song’s entire choreography and Tamannaah’s scene in front of the British men was a visual spectacle. The VFX and visual effects are among the best we have seen in the Indian film industry.
Amit Trivedi’s Rahman-esque composition of the title song will give you goosebumps, while another song in the end credits leaves you with an overwhelming feeling. The background score by Julius Packaim is outstanding and plays a major role in keeping the tempo high through almost the full 170 minutes.
Many scenes are not advisable for children to watch. Dialogues in the Hindi version are something one would find too intense if they are not too keen to give it a chance. Several moments might remind you of Baahubali (standing up for assault on woman, villagers cheering for hero, sets, action scenes, backstabbing) and Manikarnika. Chiranjeevi’s body double shows up occasionally. Script wise, it is not the most gripping affair. Those who are not too fond of period action films, might get bored sporadically. Logic goes for a toss at multiple places and convenient plot points are numerous, while some scenes don’t create an impact.
However, despite all this, it more than makes up with a super-charged up climax, that carries its impact well into the end of the end-credits, that honours the various freedom fighters of the country. It is over the top and one knows it, but one might be surprised to go with the flow here probably due to their patriotism.
Overall, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is inconsistent, but should easily make it to every list of the best films based on Indian freedom fighters, thanks to its technical brilliance, an amazing climax and Chiranjeevi.
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