Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, whose ambitious trailer was out this week, is mostly just formulaic. There’s the British as the traditional formulistic foe, barking caricatures, looking and behaving like louts on a savage spree in tight red uniforms.
And they torture the indigenous underdogs until the messianic super-hero rises from the ashes and emerges from the smoke to teach them a lesson they’d rather not forget.
This, in summation, is the backdrop and frontal aspirations of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.
Chiranjeevi plays the title role. He jumps, fights, threatens and offers ultimatums to the ‘goras’, asking them to “Get out of my Motherland.”
A retro rerun
Even in the cover of the flashy special effects, one can’t help notice how close this drama is to those already a part of the Bollywood timeline. Decades ago, Manmohan Desai’s Mard had Amitabh Bachchan doing what Chiranjeevi is seen doing in this one. The villainous British officer then was portrayed by Bob Cristo, as in Mard and Manoj Kumar’s Kranti.
And if they needed to portray an officer with more class, the role would usually go to the late actor Tom Alter.
But it’s not clear where the British baddies in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy were picked out from. For one, their accents seem suspiciously Hyderabadi. Maybe after all that was spent in special effects, the producer ran out of money, so they got locals to dub.
Pan-India actors and all that jazz
Chiranvjeevi seems to have had a lot of fun playing his part, but he reminds one more of Robinhood than Mangal Pandey, which is not a bad thing in a film that reduces the pitfalls of colonisation to a revenge formula, we think.
That being said, from the dazzle and oomph of two lovely ladies, Tammannah Bhatia and Nayanthara, lusting after our freedom-fighter super-hero, it seems unlikely that Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy means serious business.
Then there’s Amitabh Bachchan, and his voiceover in the film is as usual, very impressive.
To sum it up, Sye Raa seems more hysteria than about history, more Baahubali than Junoon. Perhaps that’s good. Because who remembers Shyam Benegal’s Junoon?
Sye Raa... is a true story of a heroic personality Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, and not a fictional one. It is based on real incidents (with basic cinematic liberties). In the pre-independence era, the way the people were treated by the British was miserable. Most of the early 19th Century films are based on ex-colonists behaviour. Moreover, an extensive research went into gathering information and facts during the Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy era. So there’s nothing much to argue on how the makers depicts them in the film. And as for the trailer, it is intense. The conviction with which Chiru garu has pulled off the role is phenomenal.
— Maruthi, director