Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy movie cast: Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Sethupathi, Sudeep, Nayanthara
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy movie director: Surender Reddy
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy movie rating: 2.5 stars
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy delivers exactly what it promises: ‘Megastar’ Chiranjeevi in and as Uyalwada Narasimha Reddy, a little-known rebel from Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh, whose brave deeds became an inspiration for the freedom fighters in 1857.
Here’s what we get, in plenty. Battle scenes upon massed battle scenes, with Indian braves fending off the marauding British overlords. Royal intrigues. Palace infighting. Beautiful women. Wise men in flowing white beards. And towering above them all, Chiranjeevi, who carries the film from beginning to end.
Post Bahubali it would be foolish for an epic, even if its historical accuracy is dubious (which is why the film comes armed with the usual ‘fiction based on fact’ caveat) to not go for big and bigger in every scene. Each frame is bursting with crowds and colour and movement unless of course, the camera needs to solo worship Chiranjeevi, the one and only.
Narasimha Reddy is a man of his people, groaning under the evil ways of the British, who are insisting on more and more ‘lagaan’: if there are no crops, you will pay taxes on your land, thunders a red-faced Englishman. That reminds us instantly of Aamir Khan’s ‘Lagaan’, but unlike that one, there’s not one single fair-minded Brit in sight, nor a ‘gori mem’ who falls for our hero. The Brits are all shown as singularly greedy and cruel: this is not a film guilty of nuance, and unpredictability.
Too much time is spent in getting to the point where Reddy creates a united front to go up against the invaders. In between, there’s a romance, which is nipped in the bud, and a marriage, all built in to show the softer side of our hero. But these are momentary blips. The real job lies outside, on the battle-fields, wielding the sword, cleaving the enemy into two: Reddy is a one-man army. Everyone else is clubbed into the ‘supporting cast’ bracket, including Nayanthara and Tamannah, whose chief job is to adore. Of the men, Sudeep has a few moments, as does Amitabh Bachchan; Vijay Sethupathi comes on, briefly and late, to grab a bit of screen-time for himself.
The rest is all Chiranjeevi, and it has to be said, that while the dubbing is, always, annoyingly distracting (how does one do anything about the lips which will never sync?), he is most convincing, because he throws everything he has into the role. And that’s why we stay watching, through those 171 much-too-stretched-out loud, drenched-in-melodrama minutes: the star fills the role completely.