Biopics of illustrious personalities often don't fit in a span of 2-3 hours that are considered ideal screening time for films. Especially if it is a personality like NT Rama Rao, who has had a venerable life with far too many significant milestones that must be talked out. So kudos to filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi and producer Nandamuri Balakrishna for dividing the NTR biopic into two parts, namely, Kathanayakudu and Mahanayakudu.
Starring Nandamuri Balakrishna as NT Rama Rao with Vidya Balan plays his first wife Basavatarakam and in support of an ensemble cast, the film released today. Did it fare well in terms of filmmaking? Did Krish manage to bring out the pivotal aspects of NT Rama Rao's life? Was Nandamuri Balakrishna able to do justice to the portrayal of his father? We'll learn about the same below.
The plot of the story basically talks about the life of legendary actor and politician NT Rama Rao, played by his son Nandamuri Balakrishna. The celebrated personality of Andhra Pradesh transitioned from films to philanthropy to politics with various milestones achieved in the process. The film highlights the journey of Rama Rao as he transitioned from a civil service position to pursue his passion for acting and later for public service. Kathanayakudu emphasises his career in the film industry and how he brought about the prominence of Telugu film industry in Madras. The movie also showcases the support he received from his first wife Basavatarakam played by Vidya Balan, who stood by his side through thick and thin.
— Krish Jagarlamudi (@DirKrish) January 1, 2019
Let's start with the positives of the film first. Taking on the challenging role of playing his own father in his biopic, Balakrishna surely proved his bravado. And he did manage to leave an impact as the dynamic NT Rama Rao on the silver screen. The minute Balakrishna made his grand entry in the film, he stole the limelight. Right from playing the young Rama Rao from the small village of Nimmakuru to becoming the middle-aged eminent and worshipped actor, producer, filmmaker, philanthropist and politician, Nandamuri Balakrishna aced all the stages with finesse.
To support his fantastic screen presence, Vidya Balan's persona as Basavatarakam was phenomenal. They couldn't have cast a better artist her to play NTR's wife as Balan's lucid expressions and calming presence made for a good watch. Sure, many cameos made their way to the screen starting from Nithya Menen, Hansika Motwani, Rakul Preet Singh, Nasser, Murali Sharma Nandamuri Kalyan Ram, Shriya Saran, etc, but little did it matter.
There were many highlights in the movie such as the whole shooting sequence of NTR taking up the role of Ravana. The shooting for which, he had to stay still for over seven hours for VFX at that time, to do its magic. The sequence with Rama Rao making his entrance as Krishna also had a brilliant frame and direction. The focus was tremendously placed at the milestones he achieved in his film career.
All the transitions from being an unhappy civil servant to becoming an actor to a screenplay writer to a producer and eventually finding himself in the political sphere, it had its positives and negatives. While Krish managed to showcase all the stages of NTR's life that stood tall with respect to the Padma Shri award, the dissent towards being called a Madrasi, the events that pushed him towards politics, it lacked a lot of important elements.
With this, let us talk about the negatives of the film. The slow pace of the film was a big downer. There were literally moments when I spaced out because of the lack of depth and easygoing continuations between scenes. Yes, the film highly glorifies the personality that NTR was but it could've been done in a better, more engaging way. Lucky for the cast who constantly called for attention with their sheer screen presence. The film's focus was directed only towards NTR's dedication towards his work.
Hardly any important components of his personal life, his rapport with his family or interesting anecdotes within his personal sphere were covered. If we want to learn about NTR's film career, we might as well Google the whole thing out and we will find content that has been showcased in the film. Perhaps the lack of personal touch in the film made it less impacting. Not to mention the abrupt transition between scenes and stages of his life. Concrete life-altering decisions were made with the snap of fingers in the film.
This is one challenge that biopics often face. The inability for the filmmaker to touch upon the right kind of details of a person's life often makes the biopic dull and lifeless. Hopefully, the sequel of the film will have more insights on the things that happened with NTR without the influence of what can be found on the internet.
- Nandamuri Balakrishna and Vidya Balan's impeccable performances
- The shooting of the Ravana sequence
- Dramatic frames used by Krish
- Covering every aspect of his film career
- The slow pace of the first half
- Lack of personal touch
- The inconsistent transition between scenes and stages in his life
- Not enough focus on his personal life
- Inability to hold the viewer's attention for long
It is a laudable effort by Krish but perhaps in the upcoming sequel, more focus can be directed towards the personal sphere of NT Rama Rao. However, if you wish to learn about the famous personality, it will give you all the details about his film career that spanned for about five decades. It's a one time watch so be prepared to lose interest momentarily during the span of the film.