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NTR - Kathanayakudu Review

U Biography, Drama 2 hrs 51 mins Jan 9, 2019





NTR - Kathanayakudu Review & Rating


NTR: Kathanayakudu Review: An Unfolding of Epic Life of NTR Before Our Eyes

The premise

NTR NTR NTR! Have you ever heard this chanting? Well, you'll do the same when watching this highly anticipated biopic of the legendary Telugu actor and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, at certain places. What is there to this man? What's this specialty? Why Telugu people still talk about him even after his passing away about 23 years ago? Why even this modern generation film stars, who were born long after NTR left the film industry for politics, still take him as their benchmark? And why he is represented by one and all as the representation of Telugudanam? 

Well, ladies and gentlemen! The shortest answer to all this is here for all of us to know. The first volume of NTR's biopic titled NTR: Kathanayakudu, is out today and deservedly, everyone's eyes are on the film. Despite a damp beginning for the film's shoot, the expectations on the film reached beyond what we have seen in a long time (barring Baahubali 2) once director Krish took the reigns of this ultra-prestigious project. 

One wrong movie, everything he had built up in his career will be ruined. But Krish being Krish, he blasted even an iota of doubt that remained in the minds of fans and critics once the first legitimate poster is published. Now that the film is finally in the theatres, and we have watched it ;-) let's check what sort of magic Krish weaved alongside Nata Simha Balakrishna.

The journey from Rama Rao to NTR

The story of this film starts with Nandamuri Harikrishna is looking after his mother Basavatarakam in the hospital room. Basavatarakam is suffering from cancer and is taking treatment at the famous Adyar Cancer Institute. Harikrishna is visibly distraught at the condition of his mother. But she is in a retrospective mood. To lighten the mood or possibly to remember the best things about her life, she starts flipping the pages leaves from the album she always with herself. Vidya Balan is pure gold in these few minutes. 

Enter Rama Rao! (Hey! don't forget to take few good throat exercises as you will uncontrollably whistle or make cheering sounds once Balakrishna appears as the young NTR, okay?). As Basavatarakam goes back in time, we get to the time when NTR was about 25 years old. He was at the perfect age for a man to be doing his life's work at peak prowess. He was a small-scale employee at the registrar office in near Mangalagiri (an obvious reference to Balakrishna's devotion to Lord Narasimha Swamy).

He was not satisfied with his daily routine. It was a safe and secure job and with proper management, he would settle as a well-off person within the next few years. But no! He is not just any 25 years old who just think about settling in life. He was married all right and he might have children of course! But there is a fire in his mind. Fed up with the corruption in and around his workplace, and with a desire to prove himself to be beyond an ordinary youngster, He resigns his job. 

He was questioned. He was ridiculed. But he never relents. This is where Basavatarakam travels in time. Her greatest moment in life. The biggest turning point. Rama Rao went to Madras and carries with him a letter the legendary filmmaker L. V. Prasad had given him. He struggled there. He faces hardships. But friendship came in the form of Akkineni Nageswara Rao who was a mighty young star at that time enjoying a great fan following. 

He landed a chance in Mana Desam movie directed by L. V. Prasad himself and the film stars South India's first superstar Chittoor V. Nagaiah and another star hero C. H. Narayana Rao. Young Rama Rao played the role of a police inspector and was taken notice of by the industry people. How from this humble but fiery beginning he rose to become the biggest matinee idol and what drove him again from the comforts of being the film star who is enjoying the stardom which even many people don't dare to dream to turn his attention to serve the people through politics form the rest of the film. 

Balakrishna is NTR

Nandamuri Balakrishna was a blessed man not just because of what many think, but because of his playing the role of NTR. NTR: Kathanayakudu depicts the journey of a common Telugu youngster with the fire of passion to prove himself to be the ultimate star who wants to serve the people who made him what he is now. The journey of a, one-among-the-many Rama Raos who lived in Teluguland to become the NTR, a legend in every major field he entered. Cinema and Politics. 

Balakrishna closely resembled NTR in certain scenes and that credit goes to the making team and the director's vision. But where Balakrishna scores the brownie points is he didn't try to imitate NTR. He just followed what the director, who mighty well knows what ticks for this film and what not ticks, told him to. Nobody beats NTR when it comes to playing characters from Indian Epics and Balakrishna is equally the only person now alive to do the same. You have to watch this film to believe how great a performance Balakrishna delivered. Another win for Balakrishna is his diction. He just followed the character than imitating NTR's voice. 

Balakrishna was a bit off the mark in the scenes where NTR was a young man. This may be because of the age factor. And in certain areas, he looked anyone but NTR. But that is the strong plus point of this film. This is the depiction of NTR's life. Not a showreel where young actors imitate NTR. Krish must be patted on his back for making this film in the right way. He never seemed to get carried away by the source material of epic proportions. 

Balakrishna is superb in many ways. His passion and zeal to make NTR come alive on the screen are winsome. He literally made things happen with his forceful personality. Great job is a small word. As he has said in the promotions that a son playing his father in a full-length role on the screen is a historic moment. 

Sumanth nailed it beyond imagination

The next actor who needs to be commended is Sumanth. He established Akkineni on the screen with his powerful performance. Part of this film is as much the biopic of Akkineni as it is of NTR's. The friendship and the strong bond shared by two of these superstars Telugu Cinema has ever seen is heartwarming and the writing team did a fine job. Sumanth will receive awards for best supporting actor with for this role. He matched the charisma oozed by Balakrishna as NTR and that of Akkineni's too. 

Vidya Balan is an asset

Vidya Balan couldn't have asked for more in her Tollywood debut. Whoever might have convinced her to take this role deserves kudos. She is an asset for this film and it is through her Basavatarakam that we watch the growth of Rama Rao to NTR. Every scene that happens between Balakrishna and her are a cinematic masterclass. The chemistry between them worked out big time and brought an unprecedented believability to the subject matter. 

Krish's mastery of the craft

Krish is a genius when it comes to cinematic storytelling, if not understood by many previously, look at what he did with Gautamiputra Satakarni. He took one of the rarest techniques in telling epic stories and delivered a triumphant film (Used by Richard Attenborough in Gandhi movie. He told the three important events of Gandhi's life and spun his narration around those events). Now, none expected he will tell the story of NTR through the eyes of Basavatarakam. Who knows the man better than his wife who stood with him in the good and bad days and was the motive power behind his life's work?

But where this reviewer felt a tinge of disappointment was the way the scene shifted from one famous film to the other in a quick fashion made us feel like we are watching a highlights reel. But he scored very well with the emotions he injected in the film. Two scenes wet our eyes. The death of NTR's son as the pre-interval and the Divi Seema floods as the pre-climax. These two sequences act as the hinge on which this film is balanced. 

How the cameos worked out?

Coming to the other highlights, the host of stars who appeared in many roles from the past. Let's check out how well they did. 

1. Krish as K. V. Reddy who made the star N. T. Rama Rao a superstar by casting him as Lord Krishna in Mayabazaar is great in the role. But his diction is found wanting. 
2. Nithya Menen who played Savitri has a great screen-presence and she obviously did a great job. But just don't compare her with Keerthy Suresh in Mahanati. 
3. Rana is electrifying as Nara Chandra Babu in a short cameo.
4. Vennela Kishore as Rukmanandha Rao and Daggubati Raja as N. Trivikrama Rao are a terrific choice for the roles. 
5. Rohit Bhardwaj as Nandamuri Ramakrishna is excellent.
6. Prakash Raj as Nagi Reddy is a disappointment. We can see Prakash Raj rather than the legendary producer.
7. Murli Sharma is good as Chakrapani, the producer. But he lacked the forceful personality of Chakrapani. 
8. Shriya Saran has great chemistry with Balakrishna in Dana Veera Soora Karna scenes.
9. Rakul Preet Singh is disappointing in Sridevi role but she managed not to spoil the scenes. 
10. Hansika lacked the legendary charm of Japaprada but she looked beautiful nonetheless. 
11. Shalini Pandey as Sowcar Janaki is competent. 
12. Pranitha Subhash as Krishna Kumari is another notable cameo and she is superb. 
13. Yashu Mashetty as S. Varalakshmi and Pratyusha as G. Varalakshmi are decent.
14. S. V. Krishna Reddy as Kamalakara Kameswara Rao is a pleasant surprise. 
15. Bengali actor Jisshu Sengupta as L. V. Prasad is terrific. 
16. Brahmanandam is great as Relangi but appeared a bit mismatch in certain angles as Relangi is a subtle comedian where Brahmanandam is known for forceful comedy. But he did quite well. 
17. Chandra Siddhartha as Dasari Narayana Rao, a very important figure from NTR's later career is aptly cast. Prakash Kovelamudi as K. Raghavendra Rao who has a similar role as Dasari in NTR's later career is good. 
18. Ramajogayya Sastry as C. Narayana Reddy is good. 

The crew

When it comes to the technicians, Keeravani did a fantastic job in both the songs and the background score. He lifted an already epic film to even higher levels. The cinematography by Gnanasekhar is an asset with some great shots. He is what Keeravani is to music to cinematography. Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues are top class. He is another asset. Balakrishna's decision to rope him in for that department is justified beyond imagination. The editing is done competently. The production design is top-notch. The production values are expectedly great.


All in all, NTR: Kathanayakudu is an epic experience. Despite some quirks which are common for films of this gigantic scale, the movie set the platform for the epic emotional rollercoaster of the second volume. Just go and watch the unfolding of history before our eyes. The film could have been better. But none can make better than what Krish had done now!. Cheers!


  • The overall arc of NTR's life story
  • Balakrishna in the second half
  • Sumanth as Akkineni Nageswara Rao
  • Vidya Balan
  • Krish's narration technique and direction
  • Keeravani Music
  • Some good cameos that really worked and reminding us of the bygone era


  • Lengthy
  • Slow narration at certain places

Pycker Rating: 3.25 out of 5

NTR - Kathanayakudu Critic Reviews

NTR - Kathanayakudu User Reviews

  • Sabrish

    19 Jan 19 @ 6:36 PM

    Very good movie balakrishna did a fabulous job he just lived in the role of great legend NTR hats off to krish superb direction & Sai madhav burra dialogues are next level 👌👌each & every role did complete justice to their roles  



  • Manideep Reddy

    24 Jan 19 @ 2:18 PM

    ram Charan e better NTR waste very dirty anta chandalam 2 nd part Inka chudanu sodilo cinema NTR Vinaya vidaya Rama debba kadanayakudi ki abba
  • Balaji

    9 Jan 19 @ 2:56 PM

    History will not have ratings and it's Legendary history of Telugu people. 

NTR - Kathanayakudu Live Updates & Public Talk

NTR Kathanayakudu is the first biggie of Tollywood in 2019 and is carrying superb pre-release buzz. The trailer, songs, and the huge cast have created lots of expectations on the film. The curiosity to know about the life of legendary NTR is also one of the reasons which made NTR Kathanayakudu as one of the most awaited films of 2019. The film has opened to a thunderous start at the USA box office and even in the Telugu states, special shows started from as early as 4 AM. NTR Kathanayakudu has got a decent response for the first half.

Krish seems to have weaved his magic once again, especially in the second half of NTR Kathanayakudu. Though the first half is said to be pretty decent with some good moments, it is the second half which is said to have impressed many. The Lord Krishna avatar is said to be one of the best scenes of the film and is getting a superb response in the theatres. Sai Madhav Burra's dialogues are getting a special appreciation from the audience.

Nandamuri Balakrishna is said to have done a fantastic job in portraying his father's role on screen. Many people are terming it as his career-best performance and for an actor with more than 100 movies, it is a huge compliment. The rest of the cast and crew seem to have done a decent job but the background score is being praised specially. With the early morning shows coming to an end, NTR Kathanayakudu has settled with super hit reports from all over.

Stay tuned for more live updates and public talk of NTR Kathanayakudu.

NTR - Kathanayakudu Preview

What is NTR: Kathanayakudu About?

No words can express what this movie is about. Leave aside politics and everything. Take it purely on its cinematic merits. NTR: Kathanayakudu s not just the story of the legendary actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao. It is the history of the rise of Telugu Cinema. There were other stars and superstars in Indian films. But it is Rama Rao who would go on to become known by the three letters N... T... R... who took cinema to the masses like never before. 

Of course, there is going to be the second volume of this epic biopic. But here we confine ourselves to the Rama Rao or NTR the actor who redefined how a Telugu Kathanayakudu (the protagonist) is and should be. While first director's exit threw this biopic into apparent development hell, director Krish's entry to wield the megaphone immediately shot up the expectations like a rocket into the sky. We need not say anything about director Krish. We know how he takes the audience along with him for a ride in the world of his stories. 

Balakrishna is the luckiest person in the Indian Cinema. No son played his father's role let alone make a biopic on him on a scale like this. Nata Simha not just acted and produced this film, he brought heavens to earth in making this film tick. He left no stone unturned in delivering us a film like this. Goosebumps will have a field day starting from tomorrow. 

NTR: Kathanayakudu Promises

An unfolding of acting history

The early generation Telugu heroes were from the theatre and they just helped making cinemas gain traction with people. Next came the stars who ruled the industry and the hearts of the audience for a decade. But the first-ever legitimate film star who took cinemas to masses like never before and the man who made people flock to the theatres in scores in NTR. Starting from his early life to the time he started thinking about giving the people who made him a star by becoming a political leader via his superstardom as a film actor, we are going to witness the unfolding of acting history with Kathanayakudu. 

Director Krish's vision of NTR

Fte might have conspired things as it knows it is only Krish who could deal a film of this scale. He left his proper shot at Bollywood films to make this film when Balakrishna was searching for a director after Teja left the project. Like Balakrishna himself said, Krish wanted to helm this project and when he finally took the reigns of this film, no one doubted his arrival as the director. Those who know him just said. Yes, of course. step by step he built the hype but it is the unveiling of Balakrishna as NTR for the first look takes the cake. A masterstroke. A small but an emphatic hint about how this movie is going to be. 

A host of stars playing the yesteryear legends

Sumanth as Akkineni Nageswara Rao who stood toe to toe with NTR in terms of career longevity and stardom. Prakash Raj as the legendary producer Nagireddy. Kaikala Satyanarayana, himself a legend, plays one of the greatest Telugu filmmakers H. M. Reddy. Brahmanandam as Relangi. And director Krish himself as the legendary director K. V. Reddy who played an important part in the rise of NTR's stardom. I

t takes a full length to describe every actor who played the who and whos of the Telugu Film Industry. As a small sample, let's consider Nithya Menen as Savitri. Hope this may ignite Balakrishna's desire to revive his dream project Nartanasala. Specifically, we have to mention an actress of the calibre of Vidya Balan playing NTR's better half, Basavatarakam, and it is through her eyes that this film is told. 

Team Assembled by Balakrishna

M. M. Keeravani who is on the stepping stone of being a legend composes the musical score. Just look at the score in the trailer's opening portion where Balakrishna appears as NTR playing Lord Krishna. The timing ensured by Krish is elevated multi-fold by Keeravani. Gnanasekhar V. S. handles the cinematography and from the trailer, we can get a glimpse of how he captured the grandeur of the story. And then there is Sai Madhav Burra. The man who wrote dialogues for several good films impressed Balakrishna like no other in the current generation with is work for Gautamiputra Satakarni

And... Balakrishna

As one of the top stars and best actors of modern-day Telugu Cinema, there is no height Balakrishna hasn't scaled till now. But playing NTR is the ultimate challenge for anyone but he is not just up to the task, just consider the scene where NTR walks into the scene (Assembly most probably), we know NTR himself descended to play the role through Balakrishna. History is unfolding before our eyes. And Balakrishna's gift of life to Telugu people is NTR: Kathanayakudu. Enough said!

Keep watching for NTR: Kathanayakudu review, rating, and complete analysis. And be part of history.