Director Gunasekhar deserves applause for his attempt to capture history on screen, but the melodramatic screenplay, never-ending battle scenes and exaggerated performances give an unreal quality to this real-life account, says S Saraswathi.
National award-winning director Gunasekhar's epic drama Rudhramadevi is based on warrior queen Rudhrama Devi of the ancient Kakatiya dynasty. Rudhrama was one of the few powerful women rulers of the Deccan plateau.
The director chooses to narrate her tale through the accounts of the 13th century Italian explorer Marco Polo.
The story opens with the kingdom of Kakatiya in a serious dilemma. The queen has just borne a daughter and the king is worried that the lack of a male heir would embolden his enemies to attack the kingdom. He also fears an internal revolt within the family.
To avert the crisis, his minister Shiva Devaiah (Prakash Raj) advises him to introduce his daughter as his male child.
And so, Rudhra Deva (Anushka Shetty), the prince of Kakatiya, is born. She is kept hidden from prying eyes and is taught the art of warfare and administration.
Until the age of 14, Rudhrama herself is made to believe that she is a boy. It is only during a chance encounter with some male friends, Veerabhadra (Rana Daggubati) of the Chalukya clan and Gona Ganna Reddy (Allu Arjun) that she realises the truth.
But she continues to keep up the charade to protect her kingdom.
She helps her father rule the kingdom and is hailed by all as a brave and intelligent ruler.
Meanwhile, the kingdom is torn by internal skirmishes and soon her true identity is known. The people lose their faith in the king and Rudhramadevi is banished from the kingdom.
How she regains this faith and becomes a prominent ruler forms the second half of the story.
Anushka makes a spectacular queen, but as Prince Rudhra Deva, she is not as convincing.
Despite the armour and the regal walk, there is a certain vulnerability about her that makes her disguise appear fake and unnatural.
Allu Arjun, as the rogue rebel leader, is impressive but some of his dialogues seem too local to suit the royal milieu.
Prakash Raj is well cast as the wise minister, but Rana Daggubati, as Rudhrama’s best friend and lover, has been sidelined.
There is nothing remarkable about Ilaiyaraja’s music in the film. The background score is adequate, while unnecessary songs at odd intervals mar the narration.
The sets are imposing and the costumes elaborate, but the authenticity of the ancient era of kings and queens, sword fights and battles seems to be missing. The characters appear far too dramatic and loud to be convincing. Every character speaks with an exaggerated action that makes the film appear more like a stage play.
Director Gunasekhar deserves applause for his attempt to capture history on screen, but the melodramatic screenplay, never-ending battle scenes and exaggerated performances give an unreal quality to this real-life account.