Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy Review & Rating
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy Review: Aye Raa Narasimha Reddy
First let me assure one thing. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a historical film. No. Not by genre. It's a historical movie in the sense that it helped expand the canvas of Telugu Cinema. And in the imagination of everyone in India. Our elders used to boast that pouranik films (so-called mythological) are best made by Telugu filmmakers. And it was true. No other film industry made pouraniks on such a huge scale and on a wide variety of subjects.
Now, Sye Raa will ensure that people say historicals are best made by Telugu filmmakers. And it's a proud thing to boast of. And well deserved.
So, what's up?
How is Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?
Is it historical? Or is it historical fiction? Or is it a fictional story based on a historical event? It is all.
Though most of us haven't even known that a person named Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy existed before the announcement of the film, Narasimha Reddy is a historical figure. As he is real, his story must be real in one sense.
He is a polygar. And even the Britishers recorded his story. Of course, from their point of view. And there are some excellent works by Indian history experts which include mostly Telugu writers about Narasimha Reddy including books like Renati Surya Chandrulu etc. Trust me, they are great and formative reads (book worms, an alert for you).
So, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy is a real person in flesh and blood who walked among us in this very land some 150 years ago.
As obviously with historical films, perceptions vary and a little bit to a lot of fiction is included and that has happened in this film (more on that later).
It's based on a historical figure and added a little bit of myth and then there is the required dramatisation. So, like the makers themselves said, forget history textbooks and research at home and enjoy the film. Our question now should confine to, how good is this Surender Reddy directorial. Let's see that with Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy review.
The saga of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy
The film starts with Jhansi Maharani Laxmibai is preparing for her own war with the Britishers or to be exact, the East India Company (or simply the Company). To quell the doubts whether that highly recorded '1857 war was India's first war of independence', the makers came up with a terrific set up. Rani Laxmibai tells about a warrior down South of India, from Renadu (part of what is the present day Rayala Seema) to inspire her army.
And equally great in that role of Laxmibai is Anushka who is all grace and royalty. Styling could have been a bit better though. Then starts the highly inspiring story of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy (no, his name is NOT SYE RAA NARASIMHA REDDY).
A portion of that area is under the control of the British as those areas are ceceded by the Nizam rulers as part of a treaty. The polygars who were appointed to collect the tax on behalf of the empires (the system started during the Vijayanagara Empire). But the British neutralised the system so that there won't be much resistance just in case. All these polygars are given pension to keep them satisfied to an extent. Happened during the time of Narasimha Reddy's grandfather.
By the time of Narasimha Reddy, situation worsened both for them and the ordinary folk. Cruel are the Company rulers, despite huge droughts and other problems, they don't show compassion and the taxes are collected no matter what. Those who couldn't pay taxes or try to resist are tortured in inhuman ways. After bearing with all this and resisting this at an individual level for some time, Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy rises his voice.
The British don't take this in stride and marks him as their potential enemy. Meanwhile other polygars (64 in number) don't come supporting Narasimha Reddy as they are happy with the status quo. That doesn't make Narasimha Reddy take a back step. The warrior he is and the righteous person! He takes the fight into the British. As the people start to take his side, other polygars have no other option but to support him.
How Narasimha Reddy fights with the British (the Company) and how these incidents led to the other movements against the foreign rule and inspired our latter generation leaders form the rest of the story.
Kudos Ram Charan
Ram Charan has taken the biggest risk of his life with this film. Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, though he is a brave warrior and a man who stood against the might of the Company, he is an obscure figure in history.
Telling the story of such a forgotten historical figure is a double edged sword. First the authentic story couldn't be fetched. And there won't be any scope for commercial elements to make it a safe project. And then there is the risk of not having a story that appeals pan-India audience.
But Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy story is a dream project for Mega Star Chiranjeevi. Ram Charan wanted to fulfill it for his father. The way he selected the team for this is exemplary. P. Surender Reddy is a high quality filmmaker. Everyone knows it. But what many miss is: he is tailor-made for making high octane historical films.
Working for Dhruva with Surender Reddy might have helped Ram Charan smell the capable filmmaker in Surender Reddy.
Surender Reddy for his part asked for a time so that he could properly research the subject. And also ways to present the subject in a commercially viable manner. After all, more than 100 crore expenditure in any film is a huge gamble still. That's where Ram Charan's judgment is justified. Kudos to the young producer.
Writing and direction
Coming to the narration of the film, starting it from the point of view of Jhansi Rani Laxmibai is a masterstroke. The poster girl of the recorded first war of independence in India, Laxmibai is not just known for her Valor. She is well versed in history. She is well read. She has knowledge about the happenings around her. A bit far fetched thing but it's quite logical that Laxmibai might have known Narasimha Reddy. Or at least a warrior who fought before her.
Then, setting the story up in the first half like Rajamouli does and building up the emotions is another good tactic by the director. He didn't directly introduced the hero with a bang. He kept the elevations and heroism for the second half and cleverly first established the cruelty of the Company rulers so that the audience can emotionally invest in the happenings on the screen.
By the time Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy takes charge, the audience are already in a trance and want to jump into the Seema and fight the British. Some high quality storytelling. The screenplay is mostly episodic. But the way the pace and tension increased as the film progresses is top-notch. The entire 30 minute long climax is emotionally charged. The dialogues are integrated into the story organically.
He also has taken care of the ending so that people won't get a feeling that they just watched a tragedy. Historically inaccurate. But essential filmmaking wise. Of course this film is meant as an inspirational lesson. And entertainment.
The Mega Star
Chiranjeevi could have chosen this film as his 150th film. But we can't complain as this film happened now. What can we say about Chiranjeevi after all these years and 150 films he acted in. Despite the Mega Star masked the actor in him, the actor in him never diminished. Chiranjeevi is a great actor is an understatement. He just didn't bring out that often in the latter half of his career.
After easing back into films (10 years nowadays is a huge gap and many things changed in between) he unleashed the actor in him like never before in recent memory. It's a throwback to the early 80s when Chiranjeevi was taking the mantle of the star of Telugu Film Industry.
Not for nothing he's the numero uno after all these years and such a huge gap. Acting is second nature for him. A Chiranjeevi masterclass. Coming to showing age, forget it guys! He might appear a bit aged on the screen sometimes, it's never a hindrance. Enjoy the magic of Chiranjeevi the actor.
Amitabh Bachchan the Shahenshah of Indian Cinema sharing the screen space with Chiranjeevi is a stuff of dreams and the scenes in their combination are filled with energy. It's a treat to watch Amitabh on Telugu Screens. And with Chiranjeevi in company, those sequences will forever remain etched in the minds of the film buffs. A great film for such a great collaboration. Shahenshah Zindabad!
Kichcha Sudeep is excellent as Avuku Raju. He received a meaty role and executed the character with grey-shades perfectly. Vijay Sethupathi, though he is not properly utilised by the makers, couldn't get a better foray into Telugu Cinema. He is marvellous. Jagapathi Babu as Veera Reddy is a revelation. He brought his experience to the fore. And is all fire in a few scenes. Brahmaji received a usual role and he did it well usually.
Nayanthara the reigning lady superstar is the only actress who is capable of joining Chiranjeevi in a film of this scale. Though she has a comparatively limited screen time, she owned the role of Siddhamma, the better half of Narasimha Reddy. Tamannaah too shined in not an insignificant role as Narasimha Reddy's muse. She has a few moments to shine and she is competitive in her performance. What can we say about Anushka when she performs a role of a royal? She suited it to the T.
The rest of the actors like Brahmanandam (in a small role), Raghu Babu, Matthew Stirling as Daniel, Ravi Kishan as Basi Reddy all did justice with their performances. Even those who played the British are good. And those who played other smaller roles are neat. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a well-acted film.
The songs by Amit Trivedi are good. The title song gives goosebumps while watching on the screen. The background score is excellent and emotionally charged but could have been better in the action sequences. The cinematography by Rathnavelu is miraculous. Right from the lighting schemes to the color pallettes to camera angles to framing, he did an outstanding job. Deserves a national award (truly). He brought an indianised feel to the film with color textures despite the film is made to international standards for the most part.
The editing by A. Sreekar Prasad is superb. The cuts are handled well and there is no unnecessary rush. Great job. The art department did a superb job. The production design is far superior to many of the Bollywood films of this genre. The production values are standard setting. Konidela Production Company did an exemplary job with the making.
Just go and watch this film. To quote from what I say often, enjoy the stories about moon is inhabited by a rabbit or Pedarasi Peddamma and also know that there are no such things on moon and all we see are just craters. Similarly enjoy Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy as a film. You'll be well served. Learn the history from books. You'll get to know the real spirit of India's quest for independence. Win win. Don't miss this near-masterpiece.
- That a film like this is made
- Not exactly historically accurate (and it doesn't matter)
Pycker Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Reviewed by: GitacharYa
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What's the Story Behind Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?
Mega Star Chiranjeevi is a rare all-rounder of an actor in Indian Cinema. Apart from serious acting capabilities, he is one of the greatest dancers to grace Indian Cinema, maintains excellent grace in action sequences, and is an expert in generating humor which is not the case with many of the superstars without being awkward.
He acted in every genre imaginable including artsy films and crossover films (realistic commercial cinema made by art film directors). He even played a Pauranik role, Lord Shiva, to great applause. Anything missing? For an actor of such stature and a wide range of skills, Chiranjeevi had never acted in a historical film nor did he appeared in a historical style fantasy.
That small gap in his highly impressive CV is now filled by this historical fiction film, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy which is based on the life of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy who is touted as India's first freedom fighter. A long-standing dream for Chiranjeevi and in turn that of his fans who might want to watch him in such a role, Ram Charan dared to produce a film on a grand scale with a pan-India star cast. Shahenshah Amitabh Bachchan makes his proper Tollywood debut through this film.
What's SyeRaa Narasimha Reddy About?
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is about the historical fight of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy against the British East India company. Narasimha Reddy is considered one of the first (if not exactly the first as reported by some accounts) freedom fighters of India. He waged several flash wars against the company with an army of 6000 strong that includes tribals).
For more than 6 months since his initial revolt, Narasimha Reddy frightened the British to such an extent that once he is defeated with cunning, they made an example out of his death. His severed head was displayed hung to an arch of Koyilakuntla fort. Chiranjeevi plays Narasimha Reddy and is sure to immortalise the great warrior on the canvas of cinema. Director Surender Reddy promises that he has given it all for this film.
Why Should We Watch Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?
It's a film about a great warrior who became a folk hero to Rayala Seema people. Moreover, Narasimha Reddy is an unsung warrior whose contribution to the cause of the fight against foreign rulers. His fight against the mighty Company is inspiring and gives those who know about him the motivation in many ways. The film is a tribute to the life of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy. And he deserves to be celebrated by a wider public.
Watch Out For
Amitabh Bachchan making his Tollywood debut
Granted, Shahenshah of Indian Cinema has played a cameo in Manam but it's more of an afterthought than a proper role. Now, in Sye Raa he is gracing the Telugu screens for the first time in a role which is a guiding light to the lead actor. That of Gosayi Venkanna who inspired and led Narasimha Reddy through his path. An amazing role to be played by an amazing actor.
Chiranjeevi in his dream role
He wanted it. And his son delivered it. Mega Power Star Ram Charan brought heaven to earth in order to fulfill the dream of his father Chiranjeevi. To make a film on a personality like Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, a forgotten figure in India's struggle for freedom from the foreign occupation and on such a huge scale, it takes more than guts and marketing acumen. That Chiru has shown his complete acting ability in the role is obvious.
A mega ensemble
Vijay Sethupathi makes his Tollywood debut and there couldn't be a better film than this. Commanding a huge fanbase among the movie buffs, Vijay Sethupathi is a value addition for Sye Raa in the role of Raja Paandi.
Kannada superstar Sudeep who impressed Tollywood audience in Eega and Baahubali appears in a strong role like Vijay Sethupathi. He essays the role of Avuku Raju.
Who is better than lady superstar herself than to team up with the Mega Star in a film of this scale? Nayanthara plays Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy's better half.
Tollywood's favourite villain Jagapathi Babu plays a powerful twisted role of Veera Reddy in this film. He will surely help raise the emotional quotient of the film in a native way. Tamannaah Bhatia makes her debut Inna Chiranjeevi film in a meaty role.
O Sye Raa
The title song of the film composer by Bollywood music director Amit Trivedi is already a big hit and will surely give goosebumps when playing on the big screens.
Ram Charan the producer deserves kudos for his Verve in producing this film. He led from the front. Director Surender Reddy has done everything in his hands to make this film an epic it certainly should be. Amit Trivedi music and Julius Packiam musical score in addition to the cinematography by R. Rathnavelu and the editor A. Sreekar Prasad rounds off an impressive team.