'Tiger Nageswara Rao', produced by Abhishek Agarwal, was released in theatres today (October 20). Here is our review of the latest box-office release.
The story is set in the '70s and '80s. Nageswara Rao (Ravi Teja) is a notorious thief in Stuartpuram, Andhra Pradesh. He and his gang of three other robbers set out on the path of grave dacoity, subjecting the law and order machinery to shock and awe. The IB chief Raghavendra Rajput (Anupam Kher) is worried that Rao's next target is the Prime Minister's Office. He summons Vishwanatha Sastry (Murali Sharma) to Delhi to learn about Rao so that the impending threat to the prestige of the PM can be averted. Will the Delhi machinery be able to prevent Rao from achieving his goal?
Ravi Teja looks like a criminal in the moustache-less look. His sharp eyes and stoic expressions fit the bill. The lead man's performance is the only redeeming feature of this otherwise stale biographical action drama.
Anupam Kher is earnest but he doesn't look natural in the Telugu version of the movie. Nupur Sanon as Sara has a very cliched role (her screen presence is insipid). Gayatri Bharadwaj is not wasted and that's the most charitable thing one can say about her role. Jisshu Sengupta as CI Mouli (his character is inspired by a real-life cop) is the typical caricaturish oppressive cop.
Hareesh Peradi as Yelamanda, Nassar as Gajjala Prasad, and Pradeep Rawat as Seth are okay. Renu Desai as a social reformer named Hemalatha Lavanam enacts her part with an uncharacteristic dullness. The hype around her character proves to be much ado about nothing. Also, one wonders why she had to be shown as though she was a damsel in distress.
GV Prakash Kumar's talent is trumped by routine conceptualizations. 'Veedu', sung by Anurag Kulkarni, suffers from 'KGF'-esque aesthetics. The background score is inconsistent. Cinematographer R Madhie of 'Bhaagamathie' and 'Srimanthudu' fame doesn't give anything novel to marvel at.
The fights (by Ram-Laxman, Peter Hein and others) lack the inventiveness that a biopic deserves. When you are telling the story of a real-life personality, keep the action as raw as possible so that the protagonist comes across as a real person. The production design by Avinash Kolla is functional. The editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao is a key problem area, given he submits to the whims of his director to keep the length stretched out (particularly in the second half).
Director Vamsee makes a template-ish movie by reducing Nageswara Rao to a saviour of the poor. Saviours in vigilante dramas fight for mass education, public healthcare, etc. This movie draws its inspiration from those vigilante dramas. Nageswara Rao is not a dacoit but a messiah as far as this film is concerned. The entire second half borrows its ideas and plot points from those 'Maoist Vs state' movies where the police, the bureaucracy or the MLA are the evil oppressors.
If Rao is a Robin Hood-style pro-poor braveheart, Yelamanda is a Zamindar-like desperado preventing the hero from transforming the socio-economic fate of the village. CI Mouli is the evil feudalist's yes-man, resorting to custodial torture, stripping women naked and mouthing villainous platitudes. Is this movie a biopic at all? Or, have the urban myths about Nageswara Rao been tortured to shove down our throats a run-of-the-mill commercial fare? You pretty well know the answer by now.
One half of the film is spent on misleading the audience into believing that Rao is evil. The other half is spent on portraying him as the greatest altruist of all time. If he ran away from the cops, it was because he wanted the cops to find it impossible to catch him unless they used four-wheelers. Guess what? To be able to use those four-wheelers, the police department got roads laid! If this thing happened for real, the depiction should have been rousing. If such a thing didn't happen in real life, it is pathetic that blatant lies have been masqueraded as commercial cinema.
The two love tracks come with predictable arcs. The many fights are shorn of ideas (it is impossible for the cops to kill Rao no matter how many bullets they use until he has turned Stuartpuram into Singapore). The bad guys laugh like the bad guys from a VV Vinayak movie. By now, you know it is next to impossible to find merits in this lifeless excuse of a biopic.
'Tiger Nageswara Rao' has ambition but lacks inspired ideas befitting its premise. It is generic, occasionally frustrating and sometimes laughable.