NTR Mahanayakudu movie review: Nandamuri Balakrishna film is high on drama, isn’t a riveting political thriller
Film: NTR Mahanayakudu
Director: Krish Jagarlamudi
Cast: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Vidya Balan, Rana Daggubati, Sachin Khedekar and Nandamuri Kalyanram
For a lot of people who watched NTR Kathanayakudu, the first part of the biopic on legendary actor-politician Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, it was a story too good to be true. The lack of drama made the first part nothing more than a grand retelling of crucial moments from the life of a legend of among Telugu speaking people. However, the second part of the biopic -- NTR Mahanayakudu -- makes up for the lack of drama in the first part and plays out like a politically fueled story of NTR’s journey in politics.
If the first part of the biopic was about NTR’s acting career and his charisma on screen, the second part focuses on how he went from a novice politician to widely celebrated leader. The amazing aspect of the story is how NTR, despite being inexperienced in politics, went on to win over his people by sheer will to serve them. The second part gives us a glimpse of NTR’s childhood and his marriage to Basavatarakam, played by Vidya Balan, and how she played a pivotal role in his career at every important juncture. One of the highlights of the film is the relationship between NTR and his wife who was his biggest support system, and Vidya is a joy to watch.
The first part ended on a high note with NTR announcing his political party’s name. Most of the first half of the second part is spent on NTR’s political campaign and how he believed it was important to connect with people on the ground to emerge as a leader. Balakrishna is far more convincing as his father in Mahanayakudu than he was in Kathanayakudu. One of the reasons for this could be that nobody knew NTR’s off-screen image which Balakrishna justifies in a mostly satisfying performance. He is terrific in an emotional stretch involving his wife in a hospital and we’ve rarely seen this side of Balakrishna, who is mostly known for his larger-than-life on screen avatars.
Mahanayakudu also focuses on Chandrababu Naidu, NTR’s son-in-law, and how he played a crucial role in helping NTR regain his chief ministerial post after being dethroned by Nadendla Bhaskar Rao, a friend-turned-foe. Rana Daggubati as Naidu is unbelievably good; it is tough to guess if he is manipulative or not. His role to keep Telugu Desam Party intact when NTR gets hospitalized and how he ensures the party’s MLAs don’t switch side during a crucial phase is highlighted well.
The film also focuses on NTR’s love for Telugu people and how he strived to take Telugu pride to the national level. His encounter with Indira Gandhi during his prime and his speech at Delhi’s Ramleela ground are easily the two most inspiring events in his political career. The man was fearless and his actions spoke loudly about his personality. While there’s enough drama in NTR Mahanayakudu, one still feels it lacks the heft to make it a story you don’t want to miss.
In comparison with the first part, Mahanayakudu is definitely a story that has all the elements that make for a decent if not riveting political thriller.
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