After tasting bitter result on NTR first installment - Kathanayakudu, Nandamuri Balakrishna and his team has now come up with second installment NTR Mahanayakudu. In fact, NTR faced a world of ups and downs as a politician than as a super star in films. So, movie buffs and yester generation audience are keen to know whether Krish has touched any controversial instances in NTR’s political life or just sailed on smooth like first part…
NTR (Balakrishna) after announcing the political party in association with senior politician Nadendla Bhaskar Rao (Sachin Khedekar) decides to go on a statewide tour. Thus kick starts Chaitanya Yatra on Chaitanya Ratham drove by Harikrishna (Kalyan Ram). NTR wins 1983 elections with huge majority despite conspiracies from Congress Chief led Indira Gandhi. When NTR along with Basavatarakam (Vidya Balan) flies USA to undergo treatment, Finance Minister Nadendla Bhaskara Rao backstabs to grab CM post. How, NTR fights back to regain CM post with help of his son-in-law Chandra Babu Naidu (Rana) forms crux of the story while the emotional family part ends with Basavatarakam’s demise suffering with cancer.
Mahanayakudu literally means an authoritative leader who stood strong despite all the odds. NTR’s political life is full of such challenging moments. So, inclusion of such elements would have made Mahanayakudu a perfect biopic. Instead, Krish highlighted only one coup d’état episode backed by Nadendla. De facto, NTR became Mahanayakudu not just by fighting against odd situations in 1984. He implemented wide variety of welfare schemes for lower to middle class people and then faced bigger setbacks in last stages. Unfortunately, none of them were touched comprehensively. NTR did not become a Mahanayakudu just by winning over Nadendla.
Funny part is that a section of audience might doubt… whether Mahanayakudu is NTR biopic or Chandrababu Naidu’s biopic because of extensive importance Krish gave on Rana’s character. CBN is truly a brainy minister and his workmanship is beyond words in executing the strategies to shield his king. But, sidelining king to showcase minister as smart thinker is definitely not a wise move. Apparently, Krish’s direct intention is to convey a message that Babu is the man behind all the success NTR enjoyed in politics.
Above all, a biopic ends with demise of legendary personality or achieving something out of world. In contrast, Mahanayakudu ends with death of NTR’s wife Basavatarakam. Screenplay is neither engaging nor did Krish direct key scenes compellingly. Resultantly, NTR looked like an ordinary politician fighting against evil forces. Writer Sai Madhav Burra who penned some thought provoking dialogues for first part failed to stir the magic. Cinematography by VS Gnana Shekar is neat while background score by Keeravani is enchanting. Editing by Arram Ramakrishna is bumpy. Production values of NBK Films are decent.
Onto Performances, Balakrishna took the biopic as a divine opportunity to portray his father on screen. He suited aptly for the aged character of NTR as a political leader. Some scenes like NTR warning Indira Gandhi, cautioning Nadendla not to encourage corruption, keeping mum like a sage despite chaos in Assembly etc are goose bump moments for Fans. Undoubtedly, Balayya delivered a flawless performance that will please the Fans. Vidya Balan in a brief role as Basavatarakam is of no use absolutely. Rana Daggubati is given unnecessary elevation to show CBN’s character in best possible positive light and the handsome hunk has done his job convincingly. Nadendla Bhaskar Rao episode will somehow strike a chord with TDP Fans, thanks to outstanding performance and physical resemblances in Sachin Khedekar. Then Kalyan Ram as Harikrishna is cool and Sumanth as ANR in single scene is good. Bharath Reddy and Daggubati Raja played their parts persuasively. Supriya Vinod as Indira Gandhi was a right choice. Other artists were okay.
Lack Of Emotional Connect
Director Krish was slammed for two reasons after Kathanayakudu release. While the first one is, making the biopic in two part series and the other is flat, slow paced narration lacked on emotional quotient. However, he was pretty confident of Mahanayakudu to please all the sections. Had he precisely narrated on what exactly happened in NTR’s political life, it would have become a memorable tribute. But, he hid many truths just to emphasize two characters- NTR and CBN. At the same time, focusing just on NTR-Nadendla conflict for entire Mahanayakudu narrowed the appeal span exactly like what Mahi V Raghav did on YSR biopic focusing on Paya Yatra.
NTR Mahanayakudu begins where Kathanayakudu story took off… Adayar Cancer Hospital. Weak editing marred NTR childhood episodes that conclude entire first part in one song. NTR explaining TDP’s Jenda and Agenda, designing party symbol on wall is one of the best parts. Chaitanya Yatra episodes disclosing party manifesto should have given better altitude including that of 2 Rs KG rice. Indira Gandhi’s bowing to NTR’s flexi in Lord Krishna avatar followed by Tirupati meeting where people throng to see NTR will awe TDP Fans. CBN, ANR’s conversation at NTR’s swearing-in ceremony is just to highlight how ANR influenced Babu to take right decision and not to quit politics. Babu cautioning NTR about internal politics and his suggestions on pension age are destined to elevate the character further. The US Hospital episodes are mind-numbing. Things quicken towards interval as Nadendla with help of Congress High Command overthrows NTR to grab CM post, that too Naidu knowing everything in prior.
Latter half begins with NTR meeting Governor Ram Lal. Followed by protests at Raj Bhavan and NTR’s arrest should have been crafted more skillfully. CBN taking care of TDP MLAs is unnecessary stuff for NTR biopic. Chalo Delhi chapter will also showcase CBN’s tactical brain, as he played instrumental role during the course. Arguments in Assembly and Nadendla faction’s provocation to irritate NTR in Assembly are also poorly handled. Finally, central government bows down and takes back support with Nadendla. After NTR’s oath-taking ceremony, conclusion is given to Mahanayakudu biopic with tragic episode, Basavatarakam’s demise. Lack of drama and emotions can be clearly felt in this part too.
All in all, NTR Mahanayakudu did not completely portray the heroics of NTR in politics. At the same time, this is an incomplete biopic which ended with Basavatarakam's death but not of NTR. Rather than highlighting NTR’s character, Krish elevated CBN apparently to favor TDP. Definitely, Kathanayakudu is a far better flick than Mahanayakudu. Though hardcore TDP Fans may like this but for normal audience, this isn’t pleasing. CJ goes with 2.75 stars and we need to wait for box office verdict.