NTR Mahanayakudu is the sequel to a biographical drama film starring Nandamuri Balakrishna and Vidhya Balan in lead roles. The first part of the film, NTR Kathanayakudu, released in January this year, which deals with the acting career of NTR. The sequel mainly deals with the political career of NTR. However, the makers have established his political aspirations in the first part itself. Sai Korrapati, Vishnu Induri and Nandamuri Balakrishna produced the film together under Vaaraahi Chalana Chitram, Vibri Media and NBK films banners. Krish Jagarlamudi directed the film. NTR Mahanayakudu released worldwide on 22nd Feb, 2019.
Similar to the first part, the film starts with Basava Tarakam (Vidhya Balan) seeing the photos of her husband Rama Rao (Nandamuri Balakrishna) in an album. After a brief flashback of the early life of NTR, the story moves to his election campaign. He steals hearts of the public with his speeches and becomes the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the opposition party lead by YS Rajasekhara Reddy and controlled by Indira Gandhi tries to dethrone him. The senior politician and the Finance Minister in NTR’s cabinet, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao (Sachin Khedekar), becomes another threat to TDP. They succeed in making Nadendle Bhaskara Rao as the CM while NTR was away due to his medical condition. How NTR returned to power and his son-in-law Nara Chandra Babu Naidu’s (Rana Daggubati) role in the proceedings form the crux of the film.
The film starts with a montage of NTR’s early life. Krish took the criticism of general public seriously and added a few scenes showcasing college days and marriage of NTR with a younger actor. However, that seems to be patch work which resulted in the delay of film’s release. The film instantly returns to regular drama with the political campaign. The regular family drama shows the personal life of NTR. The proceedings towards the interval are interesting but the interval episode looks abrupt.
NTR turns into a painter, drawing the party symbol and even jewelry designs. Several scenes unintentionally show NTR as aggressive and stubborn in decision making as he only orders others to follow. Such scenes grow to the extent that Chandra Babu Naidu corrects him. Moreover, CBN takes the lead in second half of the film. The film showcases Indira Gandhi as a religious woman which could have stirred debates in Bollywood. But, as most of the Telugu audience watch the film for NTR, it remains as just another elevation scene. The portrayal of YS Rajasekhara Reddy as a puppet in the hands of Indira Gandhi is in contrary to that of Yatra where he stands against the party. So, whether it’s a true story, inspiration or fictional film is debatable.
Looking at the biopic just as a film could make it interesting to some extent. The first half has moderate pace which dwindles between family drama and political drama. The second half picks up the pace and is gripping until the climax. The entire film serves two purposes, to show the bonding between NTR and Basava Tarakam, and to showcase the contribution of CBN in stabilizing TDP in its infancy. NTR Mahanayakudu repeats every mistake of its first part. Moreover, it lacks the glamor of first part which makes the film rely completely on drama. It is as good as an unscripted film stretched solely two accomplish a propaganda.
Nandamuri Balakrishna tries hard to look like NTR. His performance is better than that of the first part as the film has a serious tone throughout. Vidhya Balan is one of the assets to the film. She brought the role of Basava Tarakam to life with her performance. Rana Daggubati is phenomenal as Nara Chandra Babu Naidu. His facial expressions brought a lot of depth to the character. Kalyan Ram is just a padding to the film with a ‘father is always right’ attitude. Sachin Khedekar shines in his role as Nadendla Bhaskara Rao. Almost all other actors stand among the crowd without any significant characters.
The script is below average without any interesting elements. The dialogues are crisp and contextual. The production values are above average. The cinematography captures the mood and tone of the film. The music is good and the background score elevated the film. Particularly, the second half relies heavily upon the background score. The art design is good and creates a contemporary atmosphere. The makeup and costumes suited the actors. The editing is good and maintains the serious tone of the film. The direction of Krish is a disappointment. Surprisingly, several shots are lifeless on the screen and creates a dull mood against a thumping BGM. He must have felt it as an achievement to complete the film within a short time but the output is disappointing.
NTR Mahanayakudu is a drama film revolving around the political conspiracies and personal life of NTR. It is neither engaging nor interesting. Watch it only if you like the first part.