At 25, George Reddy was capable of uniting universities across the country to rise in protests - that too in the darker days of the Indian political scene. He was a great orator, physics gold medalist and a boxer. He was one of the most charismatic student leaders the country has seen (called the Che Guevara of Osmania University).Just think of his sheer audacity to take on rowdies and politicians alike, his ability to instill courage amongst other students, especially the ones discriminated against on the OU campus!
A personality like that (who has already inspired two good movies in Alajadi and Yuva), however, deserved a better film than the biopic that has taken his name.
The movie George Reddy, written and directed by B Jeevan Reddy, could have been a Motorcycle Diaries of sorts, but it isn't. In the style of movies we tend to make, our heroes are already fully-developed personalities right from the beginning. This George Reddy biopic is all about his campus exploits. The movie, barring a couple of scenes with his mom, seldom delves into what manufactured a fiery student of his ilk with revolutionary ideas, someone who was brilliant academically, and yet, was always ready to fight for the underdog, the weaker side.
If we put that script-writing aspect aside, the movie implementation itself wasn't to my heart's liking. A fiery orator like George Reddy was bound to give a few speeches at least, speeches that should have remained with you long after the night you watched the movie. But, Sandeep Madhav's dialogue delivery leaves a lot to be desired. A lot. In fact, the other student leaders in the movie deliver better dialogues with greater panache than the protagonist himself. And that includes Satyadev playing Satya, another student leader. (Wonder why he wasn't offered the main role!) Laxman Meesala does well for himself, too, with some really good lines to shine with.
A charismatic student leader needs to be more eloquent, and if he is not, it is hard to imagine why this man was so important in the history of campus politics. Maya (Muskaan), the female protagonist, supposedly, (because seeing her part in the script made me wonder why her role was even required, if this is how it was going to be treated) has very little to do through the movie other than just look at George in awe.
But, my issues aren't predominantly about the actors/the protagonist/the bad wigs (retro-look is hard to create, I agree, but the wigs were ungainly and a pain to watch) or the dialogues. It is a low-budget movie that was probably trying to make do with a lot less. But, story narration in a low budget movie becomes crucial and George Reddy meanders too much.
The editing jumps don't make sense. In one scene, we see George Reddy calling for a meeting on campus and students not showing any interest to come. In the next scene, we are told 5000 students congregated to listen to him. How? In another scene, we are shown George not arguing with the Dean despite getting a one-year suspension. A few scenes later, he is walking into the police station, and getting his friends out without so much as a word with the cops. Out of nowhere comes a meeting with Naxals. Out of nowhere pops up Satya (the college president during the time George joins the campus), and disappears just as quickly. Out of nowhere, George is betrayed by a guy who usually hangs out with him. Kaushik - another student leader with a bad wig - is shown as a guy with political connections, driving around in a posh car, but is later reduced to a caricature.
The movie itself flows in unpredictable directions from George taking campus affairs in his own hands (banning outsiders inside the campus/fighting against ragging and eve-teasing/etc.) to George suddenly going out of the campus and fighting for farmers' rights. The massive protests helping farmers and the underprivileged should have been built up well, for, it is no ordinary feat for a student to be able to organise something like that.
While the first half of the movie builds some beautiful and funny campus moments, the second half neither builds camaraderie, nor builds the drama. Suresh Bobbili's heavy rock-based background music is a saving grace and a pat on the back needs to be given for the costumes' department for dressing up so many students in a way akin to those times.
All in all, George Reddy's story is one that must be told and re-told. His brutal murder was a great shock, and loss to the student community, considering how far ahead his ideas were at the time. He was fearless and never shied away from resorting to violence - mostly to protect the innocent ones - carrying blades and knuckle-dusters with him, not to mention a revolver (which he doesn't use to defend himself, one wonders why). But, what made him take the plunge from the library where he immersed himself in books to active student politics - questions like these and their answers needed a deft hand. That was missing, robbing the audience of what could have been a great opportunity to understand campus politics and how they were shaped in the '60s and '70s. It could have been a Rang de Basanti, in the right hands, but in the end we are just left with something mediocre. Watch it for the man, if you may, but not for the movie.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.