Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy - Middling for the most part but sort of works!
Historical movies can be treated in multiple ways. The most probable two would be either a documentary that strictly adheres to facts or a more dramatised and fictionalised version.The disclaimer at the very beginning of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy clearly states that this belongs to the second category. Surender Reddy is pretty clear on what he has set out to do.The film is a straightforward war drama that keeps things pretty focused on its leading man.
Having caught the dubbed Tamil version it takes sometime to get accustomed to Aravind Samy's voice for Chiranjeevi. But the dubbing is neat and you do get used to it after a while. Chiranjeevi's presence is what makes this one man show watchable. He is there right through and his majestic presence with a certain charisma is what keeps the film going. He is supported by a battalion of stars who play extended cameos, probably out of goodwill. But the good thing is that all these stars have a certain character graph and importance to the plot.
What works for and against the film is that it is a pretty straightforward battle between the hero and the British. There is always the deja vu feel. While some of the emotions work, what is missing is an emotional connect with the characters. The villains are pretty much caricatures doing only the bad things. So we have a template where the hero keeps making brave statements against them and then what follows primarily are the action sequences.
The grandeur and stunts work to an extent but with Baahubali always at the back of our mind as the benchmark, you know that it is always difficult to match up. Another issue I had is while the hero is a freedom fighter and instills this emotion among the masses, most of the time the film sort of forgets this because you have everyone chanting his name and the bigger picture of freedom struggle is relegated to the background.
What really works for the film though is that it keeps us quite invested throughout despite being long. We might not be glued to our seats but it never bores us. The focus also helps as there aren't any deviations. The Tamanna and Nayanthara characters are dealt with a certain maturity and they have a part to play in the proceedings despite limited screentime. The climax sort of ensures that the film ends with a certain impact.
A pretty watchable war drama that keeps it quite simple. The emotional connect ought to have been higher but it still works predominantly due to its leading man.