The trend of biopics is in. After NTR’s biopic, we get to see a biopic on Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy, the late Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
As an opposition leader, YSR took a journey from Chevella to Ichapuram, a total distance of 1475 kilometers walking on foot. This biopic centers on this this journey precisely.
Let’s see whether Mahi Raghav captured the charismatic leader’s life well on to the screen.
Sensing all odds against his party, congress leader Dr Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy decides to take pada yatra across the state in a do or die battle. He begins the journey in Chevella in Ranga Reddy district and ends it in Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district.
He meets cross sections of people, listens to them, sees their plight, and observes the conditions and notes down all of them. This journey changes everything – Andhra Pradesh’s political scenario as well as his life.
The film ends with him becoming CM and his death.
As we watch, we feel no other actor would have suited other than Mammootty for YSR’s role. Mammootty owns it, he gets the walk, attire, expressions perfectly. He looks as charismatic as YSR was. His performance holds the movie.
Rao Ramesh as YSR’s trusted friend KVP is perfect choice as well. Ashritha as YSR’s wife Vijayamma is also right casting.
In other important roles, Posani, Prudhvi, Vijay Chander and Anasuya make their presence felt.
The film has good music that elevates the mood. Songs are not catchy but have served the scenes. Cinematography is decent. Editing is neat.
Art work is appreciable despite limited budget. Using dialogues like “Nenu Vinnanu Nenunnanu” at key places is perfect.
Mammootty as YSR
YSR Vs High Command Scenes
Some cinematic liberties
Making a biopic on Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy aka YSR, one of the most popular and charismatic leaders of Andhra Pradesh ever, is a tough task for any director.
YSR was not a movie star like NT Rama Rao, nor did he have major dramatic incidents in his personal life like the way NTR or Savitri faced (biopics on both these stars were released in the recent times).
YSR did have his share of ups and downs in political life but they were not dramatic in nature. Hence, Mahi V Raghav focused on the most important phase of YSR’s life, that not only changed the face of Andhra Pradesh but also made him a Mahaneta in AP political sphere. That is YSR’s famous Pada Yatra.
The director has tried to capture the spirit of YSR’s relentless pursuit to make peoples’ life better.
The film comes to the point straight way. Congress was facing big crisis. Even YSR had nil chances of attaining power if he didn’t do something out of ordinary.
In that sense, this film shows the opponent (Chandrababu Naidu) in realistic manner saying he’s powerful. The film also shows that Naidu built IT infrastructure and Hitech city but neglected the farmers and the poor.
Mahi V Raghav doesn’t go beyond criticizing this point. He has stuck to YSR’s pada yatra, how he had seen the plight of the people in his own eyes and how he had created schemes based on what he saw.
Thus the director has focused on positive angle of YSR and has not used this platform to slam TDP and Naidu. He has also not made this film as a pamphlet for YS Jagan’s party.
It is quite interesting to note that Mahi V Raghav made a political pada yatra into an emotional journey. He has elevated YSR’s greatness by creating scenes like YSR having dinner at a poor woman’s house and knowing the pension problems.
Scenes like YSR introspecting that they (political leaders) never cared for what people want but strived for what they want as leaders. Such honesty has made this film an honest effort.
Expectedly, the film makes YSR as a supreme leader in Congress twisting some facts of then political life. That is understandable. However, ‘Yatra’ doesn’t go overboard in glorifying YSR but depicts the journey that he underwent as a person to become a great leader.
Three scenes stand out in the film.
1. YSR learning the importance of free medical treatment with a poor kid’s mother (played by Kalyani) trying to get money for the treatment for heart-ailment.
2. YSR going all out to defend a poor constable who did forgery to get Rs 35000 for education of his son.
3. Asking his assistant to sit with him for lunch along with congress leaders.
These three scenes have brought out the personality traits of YSR.
The film’s laugh out loud scene is when Chandrababu Naidu’s voice is heard over a phone call. He says “They briefed me” on the phone. Naidu is never shown on the film but this voice brought the house down. Even though Naidu’s infamous dialogue “they briefed me” is used in a different context here, it brings laughter.
Mahi V Raghav as a director has pulled off this biopic perfectly despite some problems in the second half.
Overall, “Yatra” is a perfect tribute to YSR’s life in general. The film will be liked by all YSR’s fans and congress leaders. For general audiences, it makes a decent watch as it portrays an important political event in combined state of Andhra Pradesh.
More than politics, the emotional sequences work out well for all.
Bottom-line: Emotional Journey