This is the biopic of erstwhile Kakatiya dynasty's ruler Rani Rudhramadevi. It traces her lifetime from her birth to her eventual victory over Yadava king Mahadeva.
In what is the first ever biopic — India's first ever about Telangana's celebrated queen Rudhramadevi (Anushka) it would be only natural to expect the protagonist to be the stand-out act. But looks like director Gunasekhar worked more on the brief but super impactful character Gona Ganna Reddy (Allu Arjun), who steals the show hands down.
It is tragic that in a film made about a warrior queen, a Robinhood-esque dacoit gets to mouth the better punch dialogues (everyone will remember his 'gammunundavayya' as they walk out of the cinema hall) besides coming across as more virtuous and judicious than the central character — Rudhramadevi. In fact, you are waiting for a moment where people will appreciate the queen they way they do for him!
Gunasekhar called the film an ode to the erstwhile queen and he has spent years — 12 to be precise — working on it too. But one would say that the effort didn't quite translate on to the screen. Rudhramadevi takes us into a period in history — aided by shoddy VFX, elaborate sets and a huge cast — but yet, as you walk out of the theatre, along with taking something new, you also walk out with an inkling of dissatisfaction.
The film starts off with a disclaimer saying that liberties have been taken to enhance the film creatively through its screenplay. But the liberties, at many times, defy rules of logic and even biology. For instance, in the climax, what seems like a 1,000 soldiers are surrounding Rudhramadevi and she fights them off. Er... how? Yeah, she may be the super queen and all. But still, how? And how could she not know that she is a girl till the age of 14? She has to look at the sculpture of a woman to discover that!
The story of queen Rudhramadevi is a very interesting one. In an age where women rulers were frowned upon, not only did she become one at a young age of 14 but also ruled the kingdom with aplomb. The episodes of building irrigation reservoirs, the famed seven forts and cancellation of taxes, all make it into the film. However, the director fails to elevate all of this because within no time, the story is dragged and all you are interested in is to know when Rudra Devudu/Rudhramadevi will finally come clean about his/her gender! A same-sex marriage (yeah people frown upon it now, back then they seemed totally cool!) where she is married to Muktamba (Nithya Menen) and Rudhramadevi falling in love with Veerabhadra (Rana) outside her marriage, just elevate the gender conflict for the viewer!
The film's graphics are lacklustre and tacky with the 3D feeling unnecessary, but Gunasekhar tries to make up for it with a narrative. And he does present a pretty decent tale where he presents interesting details about history.
The casting too is perfect. Anushka carries of the act of a man with as much ease as she plays a woman! Added to that, she looks so beautiful that she comes across as queenly. She is obviously there throughout the film and her action sequences, though choreographed clumsily, are carried well. Allu Arjun is a huge value addition to the film as the ruthless and daredevil Gona Ganna Reddy. His Telangana diction is near perfect and so is his attire. Every time he comes on to the screen, he cackles you up and considering his role is very short, you are seen waiting for his next appearance. Also, Nithya Menen's brief appearance is effective and endearing, Rana is underused.
Yes, the film has innumerable flaws and has possibly got some historical facts incorrect too - well, history comes with so many different versions of it anyway! But it is definitely watchable for the effort and more importantly because it is a piece of history of our part of the world that has been brought alive. But an advice here: If you want to watch the film in 3D, make sure you look for a screen made for it!