Cast: Anushka Shetty, Rana Daggubati, Allu Arjun, Prakash Raj, Nitya Menen
Gunasekhar’s bilingual historical costume drama in Tamil and Telugu, Rudhramadevi, certainly captures the spirit and valour of the 13th century queen who ruled Kakatiya, a small kingdom in what is today Andhra Pradesh. But her coronation was not smooth, for her father and king had to hide for many years the fact that his child and heir to the throne was not a son. In times when people were averse to a queen as head, and with many detractors to the kingdom waiting to grab it, a clever prime minister, Shiva Deviah (played by Prakash Raj with admirable ease and dignity), helps Rudhramadevi ( Anushka Shetty, who for long disguises as a boy/man and calls herself Rudhradeva) through wily statecraft to retain her hold over the kingdom.
Rudhramadevi -- whose Telugu version which opened last week and which has till now grossed about Rs 55 crores -- in 3D is picture perfect, with hauntingly expansive visuals by cinematographer Ajayan Vincent, the most colourful of costumes and ravishingly beautiful women. Admittedly, Shetty blooms into a woman only towards the very end of the the 158-minute film, with the earlier part seeing her as a rather plain boy/man.
Watch: Rudhramadevi trailer
But when the switch does take place, a palace dance and song (with Illaiyaraaja’s music) and a romance with a neighbouring prince, Chalukya Veerabhadran (Rana Daggubati), give ample scope for Shetty’s Rudhramadevi to appear gorgeous, a resplendent look that she does not let go even in the final battle scene -- where she rides atop an elephant with a “trishul” in hand, looking every inch a goddess who has descended to vanquish evil.
The battle scene in 3D captures not as much as the bloody gore as the patterns the two opposing armies -- one defending Kakatiya and the other invading it -- create on the battlefield. While the soldiers from one form a snake-like shape, the opposing men spread out like an eagle, and the aerial shots of these formations are just magnificent.
Admittedly, on a closer look, the sword fights tend to look a trifle artificial, and the computer graphics in especially sequences where huge boulders are rolled down to crush men, are not quite up to the mark.
However, the smooth story-telling, an impressive performance by Prakash Raj and Nitya Menen, in a small role as Rudhradeva’s wife, do not allow the narrative to sag at any point. Shetty, sadly, does not pass the test, looking dead most of the time.