In poll season, NTR, YSR biopics spice up Andhra political drama

Sreenivas Janyala
Yatra, with Mammootty as YSR

Ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, biopics of two political leaders have taken the state by a storm. While Yatra, released on February 8, is based on the life of former Congress leader and late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Lakshmi's NTR, which is slated to release on March 2, depicts the life of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former CM N T Rama Rao.

Starring Mammootty in the lead role, Yatra, directed by Mahi Raghav, is based on the 1,450-km-long padayatra undertaken by YSR in 2003, which helped propel the Congress to power in the state in the election held the following year.

Lakshmi's NTR has been directed by Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) and produced by YSR Congress Party leader Rakesh Reddy. While P Vijay Kumar plays NTR, Yagna Shetty and Sri Tej play Lakshmi Parvathi and Naidu respectively.

According to RGV, the film reveals the events that led to N T Rama Rao's son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu staging a coup in 1995 and taking control of the TDP. After a stellar career in films, NTR had founded the party in 1982. Much of the story revolves around the entry of Lakshmi Parvathi into NTR's life in 1989 after his wife Basavatarakam died in 1985. Lakshmi, then married to a folk artist, was introduced to NTR as she wanted to write his biography. The friendship soon blossomed into love and the two married in 1993.

Following the TDP's defeat in the 1989 Assembly polls, NTR was personally and politically isolated and that is when Lakshmi entered his life. "The love between a man and woman created an upheaval in Andhra Pradesh politics. It is a love story interwoven with the scheming and conspiracies of that time. This film also reveals the shameless lies that had been spread about them and the manner in which a coup was staged by betraying NTR's trust,'' RGV said.

The film portrays Naidu as a backstabber. It includes scenes from the Viceroy Hotel where TDP MLAs backing Naidu were put up for a week when the latter staged a coup. When NTR visited the hotel with Lakshmi in an attempt to cajole the legislators, he was humiliated. The movie also has a song named Vennupotu, which means backstabbing in Telugu, referring to Naidu's coup.

TDP leaders and activists allege Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is behind the making of Yatra and RGV is hand-in-glove with the YSRCP. The party's MLA from Pithapuram, S V Varma, has filed a petition against the movie. "The film is aimed at showing Naidu in a bad light," Varma said.

RGV has, however, clarified that it is a coincidence that producer Rakesh Reddy is a YSRCP leader. Rakesh Reddy, on the other hand, has claimed that he agreed to produce the movie as he is a great fan of NTR.