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‘Syeraa Narasimha Reddy’: More hysterical than historical

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Syeraa Narasimha Reddy-
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Syeraa Narasimha Reddy (Telugu); Cast: Chiranjeevi, Tammannah Bhatia, Nayanthara, Sudeep, Vijay; Direction: Surendra Reddy; Rating: ** and 1/2 (two and a half stars)

By the time the British villains stopped snarling and sniping at the trembling deshbhakts of our country their days were over. At least as far as Indian cinema is concerned.

“Syeraa Narasimha Reddy” propounds the most basic kind of patriotism practised in cinema: Portray the invaders, in this case the Britishers, as cheap avaricious villains, pitch them against a one-man army and let the drama unfold.

“Syeraa Narasimha Reddy” is a fast-flowing, frenzied and hysterical homage to an unsung martyr of Andhra Pradesh who fought the British goons (the film tells us that’s what they were and who are we to argue?) with his faithful bunch of unarmed warriors.

While the legendary Chiranjeevi occupies the central part with confident swagger, the supporting cast, specially in the mob sequences, are reduced to two basic emotions: cowering and glowering.

The Britishers are played by a bunch of inept actors — one more oafish than the other. One smirking ruler, a Ranveer Singh lookalike, orders the villagers to send all their daughters to him before their weddings.

“One at a time,ahe adds considerately. Not impressed by his generosity our hero the hotheaded Narasimha cuts off the oversexed colonizer’s a” no, not what you think a” just his head.

One wonders if there is any historical truth to this demonization of the British. And if not, why can’t they take action against being portrayed as brutal louts? Or is the prerogative of being touchy restricted to us Indians only?

Big names from the South are reduced to mere perky props. Anushka Sharma makes a fleeting appearance as Rani Laxmibai to tell us of Syeraa Narasimha Reddya¿s valorous deeds against the despicable firangi dudes. It isn’t clear why we needed her intervention to appreciate the enormity of celebrating the life of a freedom fighter who remains largely unknown.

But then clarity is not a virtue to be sought in a film that serves up reams of rabblerousing rhetorics and dollops of deifying drama.

The prevalent mood of the film remains unflinchingly eulogistic. In almost every frame at any given time there are five dozen junior artistes gazing reverentially at their beloved leader. The look of unadulterated love is easy when it’s Chiranjeevi on the pedestal.

The rest of the cast, including Tamil cinema’s superstar Vijay Sethupathi, is reduced to glorified lamp posts. Nayanathara and Tamannah make pretty lamp posts. While the latter impresses in a fiery dande number, Nayanthara has an embarrassing sequence where she fawns over her co-star like a fan gone berserk.

Kannada superstar Sudeep plays the kind of ambivalent warrior whom we never know, which way he would go. Reassuring that at least one co-star isn’t required to keel over with spams of hero-worship. None of the characters including the two women in the hero’s life get breathing space in the sweaty hijinks.

The war sequences are moderately impressive, though the scale of the battles are considerably reduced in comparison with Rajamouli’s “Baahubali”.

R Rathnavelu’s camera seems to have been given standing instructions to simulate grandiosity in every frame. There is scarcely an intimate moment among the characters, who are constantly captured in cascading crowds hollering dialogues on the evil Britishers.

We get that. But isn’t there a life beyond the posturing? How free is the spirited freedom fighter? Does he allow himself to think of the things he really wanted to do in life if he didn’t have to be the flag bearer? Such questions are beyond the range of ambitions that this film sets for itself.

Amitabh Bachchan appears unnecessarily in a few scenes as Chiranjeevi/Narasimha Reddy’s spiritual guru. At the end of the film he’s packed off on a swaying ship to serve a prison term in an unnamed island. Strangely, as he swayed in the computer-generated ocean I felt a deep sense of empathy with Mr Bachchan’s character.

For more than 150 minutes “Syeraa Narasimha Reddy” takes us deep into the bowels of a primeval urge to get even with the conqueror. It’s a world governed by self righteous anger. The tone of self-congratulation is as unmistakable as the true intentions behind making this larger-than-life tale of illimitable heroism.

See this film if you are sold on Chiranjeevi’s heroics. In the original Telugu version his dialogues have far more punch. And Pavan Kalyan’s voiceover in Telugu helps mitigate the muddle that is generated by the narrative’s constant endeavour to maintain a sustained shrill high-pitched mood.

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TV actor Ashiesh Roy passes away

Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) expressed solidarity for Ashiesh Roy who died on Tuesday. The actor’s staff member confirmed the news that he was suffering from a kidney ailment and was undergoing dialysis.

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Television actor Ashiesh Roy

Actor Ashiesh Roy passed away due to kidney failure on Tuesday. He was 55. Roy had been keeping unwell for a while and was admitted to the ICU in a Mumbai hospital in May this year.

Ashiesh Roy’s staff member confirmed the news. He told that the actor died at his home.

“He collapsed around 3.45 am. He had a kidney ailment and his dialysis was also going on but he had gotten better in the last few weeks… His sister will arrive from Kolkata in the evening. A call on funeral will be then taken,” the staff member said.

The Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) expressed solidarity for Ashiesh Roy via a social media post. “#CINTAA expresses its deepest condolence on the demise of Shri Ashiesh Roy (Member since: January 2003)” CINTAA’s Facebook post read.

In May, Ashiesh Roy had announced on social media that he was on dialysis and even sought financial assistance. “I am in the ICU… Very ill. Dialysis,” Ashiesh Roy first wrote on Facebook, followed by another post that read, “Need your urgent money for dialysis (sic).”

Read: TV actor Ashiesh Roy hospitalised, seeks aid from fans

Following Ashiesh Roy’s social media posts, filmmaker Hansal Mehta also requested film bodies to provide financial assistance to the ailing actor. Hansal Mehta tweeted, “Actor Ashish Roy (Bond) is seriously ill, on dialysis and in the ICU. He has appealed for financial help on FB. I’m doing all I can to help. Can industry associations also help the ailing actor?”

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Comedian Bharti Singh, husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa granted bail in drugs case

While Bharti Singh was arrested on Saturday, Haarsh was taken into custody on Sunday. The NCB told the Esplanade court that the two have confessed to consuming ganja. Singh is said to have told officers that she would smoke weed procured by her husband.

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Bharti Singh Haarsh Limbachiyaa

A Mumbai court on Monday granted bail to comedian Bharti Singh and husband Haarsh Limbachiyaa in a drugs case. The couple, who was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) following the seizure of ganja from their house, was sent to judicial custody till December 4.

While Bharti was arrested on Saturday, Haarsh was taken into custody on Sunday. The NCB told the Esplanade court that the two have confessed to consuming ganja. Singh is said to have told officers that she would smoke weed procured by her husband. Limbachiyaa said that he purchased ganja from one peddler and that he would keep one bag of the contraband at his office and another at his house for consumption.

Search operations were carried out at the couple’s properties following a tip-off. The NCB recovered a bag with 65 gram of ganja from Limbachiyaa’s production house in Versova. Later, another search was carried out at his residence, Oberoi Springs in Andheri, from where another bag consisting 21.5 gram of cannabis and unaccounted cash of Rs 1.49 lakh were seized.

NCB officials said they had recently arrested a 21-year-old man from Khar Danda area, who was allegedly involved in drug trafficking. During his interrogation, names of Singh and Limbachiyaa had come up, after which raids were carried out at their residence, said an NCB official.

Singh and Limbachiya have been booked under sections 20(b)(ii)(A) (involves small quantity of drugs) and 8(c) (possession of drugs) and 27 (consumption of drugs) of the NDPS Act.

Singh, who has appeared in several popular television comedy shows, currently hosts another comedy show named Khatra Khatra Khatra with her husband.

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Entertainment

Bigg Boss 14: These contestants will be nominated this week, captain Kavita uses special power

Of what may come as a shock for many, Kavita has reportedly saved Eijaz Khan from elimination and nominated Aly Goni in his place.

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Bigg Boss 14 Salman Khan

After Weekend Ka Vaar episodes with Salman Khan, Bigg Boss 14 is once again ready for the nominations of the week. Like last week, this week also six contestants will be nominated for eviction. And since Kavita Kaushik is the new captain of the house, she will have a special power to save one contestant and nominate the other.

Of what may come as a shock for many, Kavita has reportedly saved Eijaz Khan from elimination and nominated Aly Goni in his place.

On Monday, Bigg Boss will initiate the nomination process wherein six contestants – Jasmin Bhasin, Eijaz Khan, Rubina Dilaik, Rahul Vaidya, Pavitra Punia and Abhinav Shukla will be nominated for elimination.

For the uninitiated, the nomination process looks similar to how Aly was asked to go inside the theatre and announce six names initially. So this time, it looks like Kavita, as the new captain of the house, will do the honours to put the six contestants into the cage.

In the promo, Pavitra can be seen nominating Jasmin for elimination and vice versa while Rahul nominates Eijaz and the latter nominates Abhinav in the task.

It will be interesting to see the changing dynamics in the house!

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