NTR Mahanayakudu – An old school devotion
Star Cast: Balakrishna, Vidya Balan, Rana Daggubati, Sumanth, Kalyanram, Sachin Khedekar, and Manjima Mohan
Music Composed by M M Keeravani
Written by Sai Madhav Burra
Directed by Krish
Censor Certificate: U & Runtime: 128 Minutes
Maybe many of my readers might have felt my take on NTR Kathanayakudu, a little undercooked or under-realized. I did mention that in the review (you can read here if you like to) and admitted that I can’t just give my complete take on a movie that is just a half. I had to see the other half to give the story arc that Krish set out to narrate a closure in my head to write anything about it. Finally, Mahanayakudu arrived and closed the loop. Still, very rudimentary in its shape and form.
Why did Nandamuri Balakrishna suddenly think of NTR biopic? What is the need for him to touch upon a bee nest which can get highly controversial? For political gain, he can easily touch upon on Lakshmi Parvathi episode and showcase how his father got influenced by her, making her a villain like how Nadendla Bhaskar Rao turned out to be in this movie. Now, the old politician (Nadendla) is using all the mileage that NTR biopic is providing him to milk it as an opportunity to throw mud on NTR and his family.
For many days, to avoid such circumstances, they let the backstabbers remark on NBK, CBN, to an extent Daggubati Venkateswara Rao and Hari Krishna be alive and never provided their version of the story in complete details. We just heard a few journalists take on them and some awkward answers by CBN as a democratic compulsion to save the party, we never heard the full story from Balakrishna angle. Purandareswari – Daggubati Venkateswara Rao’s wife and Hari Krishna did fight against CBN openly by establishing rival parties and changing loyalties. But Balakrishna never showed his hand like a politician until now!
So, the need to start and stop the story of NTR with Basavatarakam death feels out of place and awkward. Why there? Why now? For me, the answers lie in the plain sight which Krish and Balakrishna with their indulgences couldn’t really bring out effectively and efficiently on the screen. Krish, still doesn’t know how to represent his ideas visually fully and Balakrishna is too carried away and distracted from the plot by NTR’s charm.
Their actual story opens through the eyes of Basavatarakam for whom in younger days, parents would have said, “However your husband is, you should always see him as God!” This is what most our grandparents view towards husband and wife relation, used to be. Take films for instance that promoted this conservative idea throughout 1950’s and asked for it to be changed in 1960’s. In those films, women’s dialogues used to say that the best place for a woman is her husband’s feet and women used to agree about that.
Basavatarakam in this film comes from that ideology and generation. Hence, she doesn’t have a contradictory opinion to NTR, “Her God’s Opinion”. It is like the writing on the wall and we saw a romanticized version of that belief in the movie. Sai Madhav Burra cleverly twisted it as, “Neeku Naaku rendu ishtalu undavu Bava ( You & Me are similar!)” We can say that true about many women from 1930’s and 1950’s. The rebellion to that belief started in 1970’s and hence our parent’s generation had two options and two opinions. Our generation has more independent brains and next might even evolve or change.
Many say that our culture is being damaged by this more independent and rebellion thinking because some can’t digest that women are giving tough competition to men in major issues. Again SOME! Not ALL! Others have their versions of modernized culture beliefs but that is a topic for later. Coming back to NTR biopic, suffering from projecting their “Hero as God phobia“, the real reason lies in Basavatarakam believing in that ideology and enabling a similar viewpoint to her kids who do believe NTR as God.
So, when a kid who believes his father is God, makes a movie about him, can we expect that to have an emotionally balanced human perspective? NO! Krish enabled this thought process by believing that for many NTR is GOD and there is no wrong projecting this “Popular Perception” on-screen like that. And for Why now? At some stage, we want to “Imitate” and “Follow” our parents so much that unknowingly we become them or a version of them. NBK wanted to be NTR on-screen, play all the roles, his father did and even see himself as his father. He did that and with his version of the story behind why he didn’t agree Lakshmi Parvathi’s entry into his father’s life and why he disregarded her so much is the film, itself.
NTR is a God for Basavatarakam and God never commits mistakes. But for NBK that God let demon overpower him by accepting another woman in the place of his mother who he treats as Goddess. So, he gave a reply to all political questions by trying to make his version of NTR biopic – a tale of her devotion and their love. So, in his NTR his father remains a God and positive energy as his mother’s husband and he projected him as same with many detours from the actual point.
Krish and MM Keeravani enabled his vision and let him project NTR as GOD. The mistake they did is, they did not project him as Basavatarakam’s God or NBK’s God but God of Telugu masses. There that projection itself is a false premise as many treat NTR as a great actor, an incredible human with some flaws, over-achiever, and inspiration and few only, as GOD. When you start your story on a false note and pretext, you end up committing more mistakes than ever. That is what they ended up doing too!