NTR biopic Kathanayakudu movie review: Nandamuri Balakrishna film is a bland prelude to a star becoming a politician
NTR biopic Kathanayakudu movie review: Biopics are usually a genre that allows the audience to get to know real-life characters and their flaws but that is something that Nandamuri Balakrishna-Vidya Balan starrer lacksUpdated: Jan 09, 2019 17:33 IST
Cast: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Vidya Balan, Prakash Raj, Sushanth
Director: Krish Jagarlamudi
One of the first superstars in south Indian cinema, N T Rama Rao ruled the hearts of his fans. He was treated like god when he was alive and that’s the larger-than-life treatment Krish gives to his subject. From the title credits to the end credit, NTR Kathanayuku serves as a bland prelude to NTR, the politician. From his college days when LV Prasad discovered NTR’s talent to when he quit his 9 to 5 job for acting, NTR is always on a pedestal.
Throughout the film, we never really understand why NTR does what he does. Nandamuri Balakrishna looks a lot like his father, but fails to command the same charisma other than in a few scenes. If one had the time to understand NTR as a person, the absence of onscreen charisma might not have made much of a difference. However, the lack of substance in the character makes this film a reverential, one-sided narration of a superstar’s image, not the superstar himself.
Speaking of the supporting characters, especially Vidya Balan as Basava Tarakam is mostly taken for granted. It begins well, the director has tried to show NTR’s love for his wife in a scene where he has her play the harmonium in front of an entire set, but gradually she pales in significance. When NTR grows in stature, all Tarakam does is get pregnant and give birth to babies. The lack of chemistry between the two - who are otherwise known to be the perfect embodiment of love -- again shows how the biopic doesn’t delve deeper but is happy to play with surface imagery.
Did NTR not face hurdles when he set out to become an actor? Of course, he did. However, even this struggle cinematically signifies where NTR is headed in life - to become a politician who cares for people. The stress on how good a man he was, and how caring a politician he was, makes the film hard to believe.
Biopics are usually a genre that allows the audience to get to know real-life characters and their flaws but that is something that NTR Kathanayakudu lacks. The film is only the first half of NTR’s life. What happens after he embarks on his political journey remains to be seen. Rana Daggubati as Chandrababu Naidu may end up stealing the spotlight in NTR Mahanayakudu if his appearance in the first part is anything to go by. The question still remains - will the director treat NTR as a larger than life politician with no flaws in the second part of the biopic or will it speak of how his family ousted him from the party and his relationship with Lakshmi Parvathi?
The recreation of yesteryear hits such as Pathala Bhairavi, Maya Bazaar, Daana Veera Soora Karna and especially, Seetharama Kalyanam, where NTR had to stay still for 20 hours to film a scene of Raavana’s ten heads were the best parts of the film. Especially if one was an NTR fan, this would be a nostalgic film and Balakrishna has done a good job of playing his father. Even the portrayal of NTR and A Nageswar Rao’s friendship in the film is interesting, but this biopic could have been much more.
It could have delved deeper into the dichotomy of the relationship between NTR and his wife, which was portrayed in one single scene. Here, Tarakam doesn’t look happy about NTR dancing in the fields with a female actor, Jayapradha (Portrayed by Hansika Motwani), as old as his daughter; but she likes how NTR and Sridevi look onscreen together after a particular song-dance sequence in rain. There is so much that could have been done here, but yet again, it is all on the surface only.
NTR Kathanayukudu is more NTR’s life in flashes of highlights and hence doesn’t necessarily draw you in and hook you to its lead character.
First Published: Jan 09, 2019 17:15 IST