After waiting for over a month, after listening to the refreshing and spirited music from the the movie over and over again, and the on going hype on TV, I went to see ‘Leader’ first day second show.
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Priya Anandh, Richa Gangopadhyay, Kota Srinivasan Rao, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Tanikella Bharani
Crew: Director – Shekhar Kammula, Producer – AVM Productions, Music – Mickey J Meyar, Lyricst – Veturi Sundararama Murthy
To start with, the theme used for the titles was interesting. We see a vague sketch taking shape in the background and by the time the director’s name appears, it unfolds to being the state assembly.
The movie opens with a bang, not a very exciting one though. The bang came from a bomb blast, an attempt to assassinate the CM. I would not uncover the plot here but would comment on what I liked and what could be better amidst the hype and the wait for the movie.
The lead role: Rana looked to have a mature stance and his dialogue delivery is a big plus. But he lacked the sensitivity and expression that one would expect from a ‘Leader’. He is good given that he is a debutant, but the debutants that featured in ‘happy days’ (another of Shekar Kammula’s movie) were so much better. In fact there were many scenes/situations in Leader where one would expect a dialogue or a fitting expression from the role (Arjun Prasad, son of assassinated CM). I would not say the actor was not capable, but the skill was not demanded and exploited by the director.
The actresses: I’m guessing that they are both are debutants. Priya Anand’s role (Ratna Prabha a TV reporter) was not only completely unnecessary & irrelevant, it was also irritating to see her inappropriate and untimely dialogues. Ratna Prabha disappears without a hint or a reason in the middle of the second half. Richa Gangopadhyayv (I cant recall her role’s name) also happens to be a media person (owns a TV channel I guess..) who stays alone as she doesn’t like her politician father. While she looks pretty and carried herself well through the movie, her role has not much to contribute to the plot. All in all, the girls were only there to fill in.
The others: While Kota Srinivasan Rao is a high capability actor, his role too in the movie as a political party head was mere. Tanikella Bharini another veteran actor, did well as CM’s chief secretary but again, his capabilities were not exploited. The only role I thought was well pictured was Suhasini‘s. She played Raajamma, Arjun Prasad’s mom. But then, the director killed her towards the end without a reason or a purpose.
The Plot: Arjun Prasad becomes CM with an aim of removing ‘corruption’ and ‘caste system’ in the state. He decides that solely on the request of his mother and a dying father. The plan is to play politics and gain power and then use that power to bring back money from corrupt politicians and distribute it to the people. If you thought that this was a serious affair and expected to see some genuine activity in that direction, wait, you’re in for disappointment. There is so much inappropriate sentiment, drama, insensitively put in romance. Udhaya Bhanu’s item number, the extended romance with a TV reporter, the vague and lack luster political discussions, are clear examples of attempts to drag the movie on.Towards the end however, the movie seemed to have gained some pace, but only to end abruptly. One doesn’t realize really why was Arjun Prasad a Leader? And where did the idea of removing ‘caste system’ go?
The closest comparison I could draw for this sort of a movie would be ‘Oke Okkadu’ (one-day-CM movie starring Arjun, made by Shankar). On comparison Oke Okkadu outshines Leader in every department, especially in the plot.
The Music: Micky J Mayer proves once again that he is an outstanding music composer. Add to this the beautiful lyrics by Veturi. The remake (sort of) of Maa telugu talli ki was path breaking, and the title song was equally as brilliant. My personl favorite is ‘Sreelu Pongina’, but I did not find it appropriate for where it was used in the movie (When Raajamma dies). Vandematarm makes for a great listening but was again used at inappropriate places. In fact I believe music from ‘Leader’ is great as a music album rather than film track. Perhaps the movie did not have enough scope to employ such stirring music.
Cinematography: I consider cinematography a very important factor in determining the visual quality of a movie. While most of the movie was pretty ordinary in this aspect, I found the slow-motion scenes in while Arjun Prasad walks are far too many. They fail to create the effect since the theme surrounding them did not call for a slow motion sequence. If one observes the assembly scenes, shots from the rear show not more than five seat columns while those from the front show more than a dozen. While the CM spoke, they were looking at an angle away from where the CM was looking while all of them faced the Speaker. This was probably a result of a flimsy attempt to create the scenes artificially instead of shooting for real.
A few bits ‘walk into the public’ towards the end of the movie were good. At the same time, the shot that shows a campaign meeting in Warangal was absolutely artificial and visible so; and so was the swear in ceremony where the public was completely artificial, in white clothes as it would be if it were shot in the fifties. This I would say killed the spirit of film making in the cinematography department.
What I liked in the movie was that the ‘songs’ were a part of the movie rather than separate bits that are plugged in as in most Indian movies. The movie publicity campaigns on TV and Radio are innovative and encouraging.
Recommendations: If you want to see Leader, go with no expectations. Its difficult not to have expectations because its a Shekar Kammula movie and the music is wonderful. but if you expect to see something revolutionary/outstanding/intellectually pleasing, you’d be disappointed.
- Mikey J Mayer is one good talent.
- Rana can do better. What is proven is that he is capable and we can look forward to his next.
- In Leader, Shekar Kammula completely misses on the elegance, the story line and the clarity in screenplay that we saw in Happy Days or Anand.
- Leader is not much of a Leader.