The screenplay offers no insights, no character analysis and no empathy even for the main characters, and the film looks to ride on a wave of controversy.

Lakshmis NTR review Loud BGM and melodramatic acting make this movie intolerable
Flix Tollywood Friday, March 29, 2019 - 14:26

Hitchcock is once famously known to have said that the length of a movie should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder. Sadly, Hitchcock didn’t take into account the dynamics of a typical RGV movie off-late where, leave alone a human bladder, you want to find whatever excuse you can to leave the hall.

Lakshmi’s NTR can be dissected, like all supposed biopics, on two counts – for the sincerity of the story and for the quality of the movie itself. On the former, the movie can be accused of taking an extremely one-sided opinion, but since no one really knows the truth barring the lady it alludes to, we can put that discussion aside. On the latter, it cannot be denounced enough, but by now audiences watch RGV movies with a pinch of salt, to enjoy the ridiculous.

Lakshmi’s NTR is the antimatter to the NTR biopic Mahanayakudu, another mediocre movie that fell way short of what a great man like NTR deserved. If that was a movie about how CBN cannot put a foot wrong, politically or as an administrator, this one was about how CBN – Sritej doing decently well in his minimalist articulation to mimic real-life CBN – is nothing less than pure evil. Lakshmi – Yagna Shetty spends most of her time adoring NTR and looking the part of a helpless, misunderstood woman – is the guardian angel who only wanted to give peace to NTR, and was much maligned and entirely demonised, thanks to CBN’s stratagems and his journalist allies.

The problem with one-sided movies is that you lose interest in them quite easily. After all, everything is grey in real life. If RGV wanted to talk about the other side of the story, he could have been a little more nuanced, chosen a slightly moderate middle path that would have allowed the movie-watcher to be ‘logically drawn’ into the story. But, RGV works differently and nuance, truth be told, has never been his strong point. Out of tune, loud and annoying BGM, darker weird-angle frames, and bad actors are part of RGV movies off-late and Lakshmi’s NTR sticks to that tradition.

Even when you ignore all that and want to watch the movie as a neutral empathising with the loneliness of a widower who finds solace in an understanding woman – who reaches out to him for help with the thesis-cum-biography she wants to write about him – the movie distracts you with its melodrama. P Vijay Kumar and Yagna, playing the lead roles, never seem to have a normal, humanly conversation. It is almost as if they are mouthing heavily scripted dialogues, which you wouldn’t really expect two people to use in a normal, friendly setup. Secondly, the movie depicts how CBN and the rest of NTR’s family are hypocrites of the highest level who leave NTR alone, only to come back later and complain about Lakshmi’s growing influence in the party – all of which are allegations conjured out of thin air by CBN.

While it is up to the makers who chose this narrative and the family as far as how they react to this portrayal, the movie – political conspiracies, propaganda (with elections looming large) and truth aside – is as bad as a usual RGV movie in the second part of his career. Eyesore costumes (lawyers close to CMs, MLAs and celebrity children, one would expect are dressed a lot better than they do in the movie) and bad art design greet you at every corner. Also, the main characters almost seem to be lip-syncing to the dialogues which were probably mouthed by mimicry artists to make them sound the same.

The ham-fisted treatment of every character puts you off too. NTR, for example, starts out disinterested in politics but is egged on by Lakshmi and finds a new wind. That character arc and transformation is barely registered. Lakshmi just walks away from her other life (husband and son) and they aren’t acknowledged. NTR’s family’s turmoil, which is very well documented in the public space, is reduced to a couple of scenes where all they are seen talking about is how they’ll lose everything if Lakshmi dominates the decision-making. Are they kindergarten kids? Was that logically their biggest worry? If yes, what was the basis for their fears? None of these questions are addressed, and the entire blame is put fair and square on CBN, while Lakshmi does nothing more than serve people tea at meetings.

Lakshmi’s NTR looks to ride on a wave of controversy, thanks to the scandalous nature of the storyline. NTR’s relationship with Lakshmi is depicted as extremely pious and clean – not even one inappropriate innuendo, thank god for that. It divides the story into just two stark shades. NTR is melancholic and lonely, loves his people, loved by people and wants to do good for them with Lakshmi by his side. Lakshmi is the all-knowing, altruistic presence in the fag end of NTR’s life, thinking only about him and his peace. CBN and NTR’s family are selfish, venal in how they use NTR’s name to win elections and then pull the rug from under his feet – all out of apprehension that Lakshmi may hamper their chances to grab power. 

The screenplay offers no insights, no character analysis and no empathy (even for the main characters – NTR talks about Lakshmi bringing him peace but such a conversation is barely elaborated upon, with viewers left listening to terrible background music while the two characters seem to be lost in a deep conversation – why put in the effort to write good dialogues, eh?), despite the pretentiousness of it on the outside. NTR’s talks with his party members are BGM-ed out. NTR is never shown to have a single proper conversation with anyone, perpetually just doing what CBN or Lakshmi are asking him to do. That is hard to digest and ends up justifying the very characters RGV is trying to portray as evil – a very obvious contradiction.

All of this, combined with the mediocre performance of a bunch of amateur and melodramatic actors, a head-splitting OST, oversized costumes, bad makeup (low budget shouldn’t really be blamed these days), make the movie a forgettable affair.

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.

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