Movie Review: NTR Mahanayakudu

2 hrs 08 m | Biopic | 2019-02-22

Balakrishna Nandamuri, Vidya Balan, Rana Daggubati, Sachin Khedekar, Kalyan Ram Nandamuri and others

Director - Krish
Producer - Balakrishna, Vishnu, Korrapati
Banner - NBK Films
Music - MM Keeravani

NTR Mahanayakudu's biggest weakness is coming after NTR Kathanayakudu that failed miserably on the commercial front. The successor to a failed film wouldn't grab the interest of fans let alone filmgoers. It was an uphill task for Mahanayakudu after the first part Kathanayakudu tanked at the box office. There's no denying that Kathanayakudu is an epic disaster on the commercial front, but that doesn't make it a bad film. It was a well made film about the rise of the Telugu Cinema's first super star. Mahanayakudu focuses on the second phase of NTR's life, politics. Did Krish and his team pull it off?

What is it about?

After announcing his entry into politics and party name, Ramarao (Balakrishna) decides to cover every nook and corner of Andhra Pradesh. Despite the Central Government's tactics Ramarao sweeps the elections and becomes the Chief Minister. Nadendla Bhaskara Rao (Sachin Khedekar) who has been the backbone of Ramarao in his political strategies looks for an opportunity to dethrone him. Bhaskara Rao stages a political coup against Ramarao and becomes Chief Minister with the help of the then Governor Ramlal. With the help of Chandrababu Naidu and determinant party workers, Ramarao gets back to power again.


Balakrishna has lived in the character of Ramarao. He faced a bit of struggle to get the younger version of his father right, due to age factor in the first part, but in Mahanayakudu, the veteran is terrific with the portrayal of Ramarao's character. He didn't try to imitate his father and focused only on getting the emotions right. His performance in the climax sequences in Assembly is sensational. He is also good in the scenes with Vidya Balan.

Bollywood actress Vidya Balan gets a meaty role in this part and she sinks her teeth into it. She has lived the character and shows the admiration of Tarakam towards her husband just through expressions. Rana Daggubati is very good as Chandra Babu Naidu. His demeanor, diction and the screen presence make his performance a standout one in Mahanayakudu. He gets more screen time and importance after Balakrishna and he grabs the opportunity with both hands. Sachin Khedekar is a fine actor and he does well as the evil politician. Supriya Vinod who played Indira Gandhi is authentic. Rest of the actors had a very little role to play.


Krish did a decent job on a whole, but his work in the first part seemed more authentic compared to the second part. He did well in establishing the bond between NTR and his wife, but the key scenes that focus on the political drama aren't too convincing. Most of the drama looked staged and convenient in the political set up. Also he didn't had the liberty to show entire life of NTR for obvious reasons. It is hard to keep the narrative engaging when there is restriction on what to show and where to end.

Keeravani's music is fine, but cannot be ranked among his best works. Cinematography is impressive and the production design is good. Editing is just fine. Production values are commendable and Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues are good in parts.

Thumbs Up:

Balakrishna's performance

Rana as CBN

Scenes between Balakrishna and Vidya Balan

Thumbs Down:

Dragged screenplay

Abrupt climax

Convenient storytelling

NTR biopic had a fixed timeline, which means it cannot go beyond 1985. Hence, Krish told the story of NTR in his wife Basava Tarakam's perspective. That's a great idea considering the limitations and Krish does well in showcasing the bonding of Ramarao and Tarakam. There are some truly touching and emotionally involving scenes between them. But, NTR's life story is not something that can be told from someone's perspective. He was not just a husband or a regular family man to focus upon the bonding with family. He was a celebrated superstar and one of the most legendary political leaders ever.

Moreover, how can anybody make a biopic of a three-term CM by showing only parts of one term? NTR may have gone through some tough phases as a politician, but he is also one of the most visionary leaders who brought terrific changes in the governance. Krish hasn't shown the greatness of NTR, the leader, but just focused on select episodes in his life and weaved family drama around it. The political scenario shown in the film also is not authentic as it is clear that the screenplay and a couple of characters have been written according to 'directions'.
There's an agenda here that is clearly evident than hidden, which makes the biopic look less authentic and more doctored. Only Chandrababu Naidu's character gets a meaty role besides NTR's wife in this part. The bonding between brothers Ramarao and Trivikrama Rao, which played a vital role in Kathanayakudu is almost non-existent here. The bonding between NTR and his kids is gone missing. Only Harikrishna's role gets some screen time. And coming to the most important part, the Nadendla's backstabbing episode didn't make the desired impact in the narrative. The scenes leading to the dethroning of NTR and the scenes where he comes back to power are not strong enough to engage the viewers.

The political scene abruptly cuts to the family scene towards the end as the director is instructed not to go beyond that point. So, the viewers will be left underwhelmed by the time titles roll on. There is no proper ending to the celebrated actor and leader's story in the first ever biopic made on him. NTR is decent in terms of making values and performances, but ends on an unsatisfying note that doesn't really elevate the greatness of the legendary actor-politician. The film that was expected to be a modern classic ends up as a film that only a section of fans could feel happy about.

Verdict: Underwhelming Nayakudu!