Well, that was a super fun movie! I missed the first twenty minutes and stayed for the next show, and I was tempted to just stay and watch the whole thing over again. It’s not a brilliant great amazing movie, but boy is it fun to see in a theater on the big screen!
This movie isn’t for everybody. If you don’t like big dance numbers, fancy period costumes, and dramatic speeches from Sudeep, than you can skip it. But if you do like those things, check it out! Especially because the underlying patriotic message is so refreshingly harmless.
This is a movie about many people coming together to create something bigger than they each are individually. It’s about lower caste Tamil fighters and Muslim urban fighters and old landed Telugu families and poor Telugu farmers and even female tribal fighters all working together. And female dancers who give the propaganda that drives the fighters on. The whole message of the film is that strength comes from unity, from accepting our differences and reaching across them. That the British defeated India by dividing the people, and the way to be a strong country is to come together. It’s like a breath of fresh air after all the “one strong man can save us” and “unity through religion” messages.
It’s not just that the film explicitly gives that message, the very way the film is structured gives that message. It brings together 3 film industries, Hindi with Amitabh Bachchan, Tamil with Vijay Sethupathi, and Telugu with the other actors. And while Chiranjeevi is very much the Star of the film, he gives space for those other actors to breath. Sudeep almost steals the film from him, Amitabh is there for Wise Words, even the heroines Tamannah and Nayanthara get their interesting moments. None of this is revolutionary, but it’s something a lot of filmmakers seem to have forgotten, that a star can’t carry the whole film. You need to cast actors and write characters to support the star and make the film as a whole stronger. Chiranjeevi doesn’t really do much for me as an actor, but that doesn’t matter, because there is Sudeep and Amitabh and everyone else around for me to watch in addition to him. And I can appreciate the heroism of his character that much more by watching it contrasted with the folks around him.
This is just a well-made film. There are epic size songs that are interesting and well-coordinated, fight scenes that I can follow and understand, and all the costumes and sets and so on that are international quality. It’s not perfect of course. The plot kind of goes hither and yon and back again, but is entertaining all the time. The British characters do that thing where they always speak the local language even while alone with each other. The Tamannah plotline is kind of hurried (although I love where it ended up). The Saintly Wife is an extremely irritatingly Saintly Wife kind of character. Vijay Sethupathi only gets like 3 lines of dialogue (WHY?!!?!?!?). Sudeep is not onscreen every minute of every scene as he should be always (Eega is the perfect movie). It’s not going to be an all-time repeat viewing favorite for me, or make it to one of my “best ever” lists, but it is a heck of a lot better made than it could be and it is very entertaining.