Had Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (2019) been released a few years it would’ve made major ripples everywhere. The Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi‘s film has everything going for it – an emotionally charged independence story, dazzling star cast starting with the one-and-only Amitabh Bachchan, Nayanthara, Tamannaah, Vijay Sethupathi, Jagapathi Babu, Sudeep, Anushka Shetty and others – unfortunately it falls just a bit short of becoming Tollywood’s Veerapandiya Kattabomman due to a pastel screenplay.

The film’s story is about Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy (Chiranjeevi) was one of the Polygars in Kurnool district, Rayalaseema Region of Andhra Pradesh in the 1840s. He rose up against the British and led an armed rebellion comprising mostly a peasant force. He is paired with Nayanthara as his wife, Tamannaah as a dancer and his first love.  Between the two, Tamannaah impresses us more with her sharp dance movements, but she seems to appear more anorexic than ever. Though both of them (Tamannaah and Nayanthara) have been given limited scope which is understandable for a hero-led action film, they have exhibited their experience through their great performances – in the scene (seen below) where they both meetup, they energise and kindle the emotions of the audience like with the dialogue below:

தமன்னாவின் கதாபாத்திரம் “இயக்கத்திற்கு ஒரு வீரனை கொடுக்க முடியுமா” என கேட்க, அதற்கு நயன்தாராவின் கதாபாத்திரம் “நான் தலைவனையேக் கொடுத்து இருக்கிறேன்” எனச் சொல்லுகிறார்.

Tamannaah as Lakshmi and Nayanthara as Siddhamma

Tamannaah as Lakshmi and Nayanthara as Siddhamma

I understand that for these historic films, it is difficult to escape from the influence of predecessors, still, the song tunes and horse riding action sequences by Chiranjeevi were clear reminders of Bahubali and the fort siege scenes had strong shades from Kesari (2019).

The makers of this film have to be appreciated for popularising a lesser-known Indian independence hero “Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy”. Stretching over 300 years, the story of India’s freedom struggle against the British is a complex one, which has been mostly told from the view of superstars like Rani of Jhansi, Tipu Sultan and Bhagat Singh. No doubt they galvanized the masses and deserve all the respect, but at the same time, for every Bhagat Singh, there were countless fighters like Vanchinathan(s) and Tiruppur Kumaran(s), whose stories have largely confined to their own regions. I am happy to see Indian filmmakers (re)discovering these heroes and the storytelling opportunities to a whole new generation.

If you can’t wait to see a part of Indian Independence hitherto untold, watch Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (2019) now in theatres. For others, you can wait for it to appear on Amazon Prime Video!

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