Reviews: Syeraa Narasimha Reddy Is More Hysterical Than Historical

Syeraa Narasimha Reddy is a fast- flowing frenzied hysterical homage to an unsung martyr of Andhra Pradesh who fought the British goons with his faithful bunch of unarmed warriorsBy the time the British villains stopped snarling and sniping at the trembling desh-bhakts of our country their days were over. At least as far as Indian cinema is concerned. Syeraa Narasimha Reddy propounds the most basic kind of patriotism practised in cinema: portray the invaders, in this case the Britishers as cheap avaricious villains, pitch them against a one-man army and let the drama unfold.

Syeraa Narasimha Reddy is a fast- flowing frenzied hysterical homage to an unsung martyr of Andhra Pradesh who fought the British goons (the film tells us that’s what they were and who are we to argue?) with his faithful bunch of unarmed warriors. While the legendary Chiranjeevi occupies the central part with confident swagger the supporting cast especially in the mob sequences, are reduced to two basic emotions: cowering and glowering.The Britishers are played by a bunch of inept actors one more oafish than the other. One smirking ruler, a Ranveer Singh lookalike orders the villagers to send all their daughters to him before their weddings.“One at a time,”he adds considerately. Not impressed by his generosity our hero the  hotheaded Narasimha cuts off the over-sexed colonizer’s… no, not what you think…. just his head.

One wonders if there is any historical truth to this demonization of the British. And if not, why can’t they take action against being portrayed as brutal louts? Or is the prerogative of being touchy restricted to us Indians only?

Big names from the South are reduced to mere perky props. Anushka Sharma makes a fleeting appearance as Rani Laxmibai to tell us Syeraa Narasimha Reddy’s valorous  deeds against the despicable firangi dudes. It isn’t every clear why we needed her intervention to appreciate the enormity of celebrating the life of a freedom fighter who remains largely unknown. But then clarity is not a virtue to be sought in a film that serves up reams of rabblerousing rhetorics and dollops of deifying drama.

The prevalent mood of the film remains unflinchingly eulogistic. In almost every frame  at any given time there are five dozen junior artistes gazing reverentially at their beloved leader. The look of unadulterated love is easy when it’s Chiranjeevi on the pedestal. The rest of the cast, including Tamil cinema’s superstar Vijay Sethupathi, is  reduced to glorified lamp posts. Nayanathara and Tamannah make pretty lamp posts. While the latter impresses in a fiery dande number,  Nayanthara has an embarrassing  sequence where she fawns over her co-star like a fan gone berserk.

Kannada superstar Sudeep plays the kind of ambivalent warrior whom we never know, which way he would go. Reassuring that at least one co-star isn’t required to keel over with spams of hero-worship.

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