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Magadheera: Telugu Movie Review

July 31, 2009

Note: This review doesn’t contain spoilers.

Telugu Film Industry aka Tollywood has often faltered in its kazillion attempts to make films which are intriguing, spellbinding and spectacular. In the last few years perhaps the only film which had transcended all borders was “Bommarillu”. And in an industry where the success rate is less than 15% every year, the need for films which everyone can brag about is all the more necessary. This is exactly the reason why we crave for a blockbuster film year after year.This year we have had “Arundhati” which created some buzz. And most certainly, this week’s latest release starring Ram Charan Teja and Kajal, “Magadheera” directed by S S Rajamouli is the next addition to that list. In fact “Magadheera” tops that list of films which you can brag about this year!

“Magadheera” is a quintessential love story set in the kingdom of Udaygarh, in the year 1609 A.D between a warrior, Kalabhairava (Ram Charan Teja) and the princess, Mitra (Kajal) which ends on a sour note. And 400 years later they reincarnate in a different city. The rest of the story is about how they reunite and avenge their deaths.

The concept of eternal romance and reincarnation has often intrigued our Indian society and this curiosity has resulted in some cult classics like Janaki Ramudu (in Telugu) and other films. But what sets “Magadheera” apart from all other flicks is its resolve to narrate a story which not only oozes grandeur in each and every frame, but also in its conviction to set a benchmark for every other socio-fantasy and fantasy genre movie which Tollywood has in offing. S S Rajamouli, fresh from his socio-fantasy splendor-Yamadonga, taking a cue from films like 300, Prince of Persia etc., outsmarts himself with “Magadheera”! Surprisingly, he’s perhaps the only director in Tollywood today, who doesn’t have an “average” film to his credit till now. In his latest movie, he goes an extra mile and ensures that “Magadheera” is presented as an epic love story. The story penned by Vijayendra Prasad spans across two different time frames and that’s the film’s USP. It effortlessly transits from one time frame to another throughout its narration. But then, every Rajamouli’s movie has a curse! His films usually suffer from a bland ending. “Magadheera” starts off with a small snippet setting the tempo for rest of the story which flip flops between the present and the past. The warrior of the past is the 21st century Gen-Y stereotype who has a passion for bikes. And when his tryst with a mysterious girl brings him to the crossroads of his destiny, his sole aim now is to find the girl. The reason being, he believes that they have an eternal connection! Yes…it’s all so predictable! Yet, you wouldn’t move an inch away from your seat because Rajamouli has his uncanny ability to drive home the point that something spectacular is just around the corner. And what a stunning piece of spectacle it turns out to be…something which you wouldn’t have seen in Telugu films till this date.

For some reason, I believe Ram Charan Teja requires perhaps years to go before he fills in to his dad’s shoes. Apart from his dancing skills and fights, there’s nothing much to talk about this newbie at this point of time. Chirutha was a great canvas for his debut and with “Magadheera” he presents a different angle as well. Oh yes…he can act! Some of the best moments in this film are when he’s riding on his horse or when he’s slithering the enemy’s army with his sword! Woah…he can scream, a lot! A lot of credit for this should go to Rajamouli for extracting a powerful performance from Ram Charan Teja, especially in the latter’s role as Kalabhairava (although he doesn’t strike you like Maximus right from the word go!). The characterisation etched for both Harsha and Kalabhairava are so good that any good actor would have done a credible job. Maybe, Charan donning that role makes it more special. The movie’s biggest surprise and best kept secret is Kajal. The lovely lass is just 5 movies old in Telugu and we had no clue that she could act as well besides looking insanely gorgeous in all her movies. Her role in “Magadheera” especially as the confident young princess, Mitra clings on to you long after you walk out of the theatre. And Kajal’s zing as Indu is wonderfully captured on the camera. I wonder why most of the heroine’s introduction scenes have to be in the rains?!! This film might be the turning point in her career and it comes just about the right time for her. Among others in the cast, Dev Gil as Billa delivers a credible performance. Srihari is wasted in this movie, although he’s splendid as Sher Khan. Kim Sharma and Mumaith Khan did couple of item songs in this film. And of course, Chiranjeevi makes a special cameo…

S S Rajamouli since the days of “Student no.1” has been making waves when it comes to making commercial films. His films usually run on a formula where the tempo slowly rises, hits at a crescendo 5 minutes before the interval and whacks your brain with his awesome and spectacular flashback episodes and then everything falls flat when it comes to the climax! I have never seen a movie which doesn’t have a fight during the climax in any of his films so far. In “Magadheera” the buildup given for the crux of the story is so good that all you would end up doing is wait for the warrior to take on those reins and swing his sword! The flashes of a warrior racing across the desert come so frequently that we as audience don’t care about the bland comedy or any other scene which slackens the pace of the film! If you are wondering why so much hype about the movie, check out each and every frame of those 45 minute flashback episode! That’s good enough if you are searching for a reason why Allu Aravind and his banner Geeta Arts had to spend 45 crores and indulge the entire film unit for more than 250 days of film shooting and God knows how many meters of film reel! On the flip side, it does look very artificial in some scenes. Some of the stunts especially those involving too many ropes, hero falling from a cliff/helicopter, bike/jeep flying 50 feet into air remind us of some blasphemous scenes from movies like Vijayendra Varma, Okka Magadu! But then it’s a Rajamouli product and you are not allowed to question the genuineness of those scenes. All in all, under the given circumstances and budget maybe this was the best possible work of Visual Effects we can have!

Apart from the direction, the closest which comes to perfection is the cinematography by Senthil. The way some of the scenes were shot especially in the Rajasthan and Gujarat make you wonder if you are truly watching a Telugu film. My favourite scene in the film is the episode of Kalabhairava racing upon his horse in the white sands of Gujarat. It’s surreal and spectacularly shot by Senthil. The entire flashback episode set in 17th Century won’t give you scope of any criticism unless you have an eye to differentiate between a set/painting which marks the backdrop. The green screen didn’t help much I suppose! The best work by Art department under the ageis of Ravinder is the set of the Arena! That definitely brought back memories of the inside view of Colosseum (in Rome). Music by M M Keeravani isn’t his best work, but some of the songs like Bangaru Kodi Petta, Dheera Dheera and Panchadara Chilaka…sound pretty good along with the visuals. Background score by Kalyan Malik and Keeravani is a huge asset for the movie, especially in all the action sequences. Peter Heins, the Stunt Director who had hurt himself while shooting for this film, shows us why he’s the best in the business. Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao is decent, I just wish they hadn’t chopped too many scenes from the flashback episode. Costumes were wonderful throughout the film. And finally, Rajamouli himself…well, thanks for entertaining us in your own style, yet again!

I thought this movie was 3 hour 20 minutes long! But the moment the film ended I realised it was about 3 hours long…I just wish the producers release an uncensored version in the DVD release, It would be really great to watch the Director’s Cut of this film. My only request from Rajamouli is, please make a full length fantasy film sometime in future! You are our only hope. For now, I think “Magadheera” is not a masterpiece! Yet, it’s stunning and spectacular…a well packaged commercial entertainer to have released this year. And definitely one of the best Telugu films of the year so far.. A big thumbs up! Go, watch it.

P.S: The next time, you shake hands with a guy/girl, check out if you can feel the spark! Who knows, you might have an unfinished love story from some other age..:D

P.P.S: For all the movie buffs and film makers in Hyderabad, here’s an interesting event on 23rd August…”Cut It Short”- Short Film Festival…read more @ http://cutitshort.wordpress.com

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. Vinay permalink
    July 31, 2009 11:10 pm

    Movie is a good watch.
    Special mention to the Art Department. And a special special mention to the Shiva idol in the movie.. Brilliant.

    My gripe about the movie is that it felt long!! It wasn’t engaging in parts to hold the attention for a long time!

    Also, Ramcharan’s diction in the flashback episode was bad, except for some heated dialogues bet’ him and SriHari. His voice reminded Chiru at times, that was good.

    Yes, this is one visual spectacle on the silver screen.

    PS: Don’t you think the new ‘bangaaru kodipetta’ song is overrated/overhyped? I prefer Chiru’s version! 🙂

    • Vikram permalink
      August 1, 2009 1:19 am

      Not given the way he danced man!

      • Hemanth permalink*
        August 1, 2009 12:28 pm

        @vikram: well, there’s nothing much to talk about his dancing skills…everyone knows he’s good! You should check out the choreography in “Dheera dheera…” song…it’s very well done!..:)

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 1, 2009 12:27 pm

      yeah…the film’s main strength was in its flashback episodes..and i really was restless in the first half…even the last 15 minutes after the flashback episode is a little bland! hehehe…yeah, charan has a long way to go before he can deliver lines like that with elan!
      p.s: totally agree with you…except for couple of steps in the song, nothing was brilliant about it…but then I suppose die hard fans will like it!..:)

  2. Admm permalink
    August 1, 2009 12:54 am

    Rajamouli always targets front benchers and he succeeds in that.so as the case with this movie
    There are many illogical scenes as always we find in rajamouli movie
    I didnt personally like any of the rajamouli’s film till now.they are just one time watch ones
    Good that now-a-days ,good graphical work makes entry to tollywood ,
    Chiranjeevi entry is waste and People should come out such things that showing ugly looking graphical work on dance with chiru,
    tata inti peru cheppukotham,family peru vaadukonu oka cinema chestunnaru,prathi cinema lo nanna peru,tata peru,babai peru,pedananna peru vaadatam maanesi,mana young heros valla talent ni shine chesukonti try cheste.indusrty ki ,vallaki manchidi long run lo paiki vastaru
    telugu indusrty ki ok curse laaga tayarandi,vaarasatvam

    jeep vacchi helicopter ni gaallo egiri guddatam vanti scenes eppudu teyatam maanestaro ,mana telugu industry appudu baagu paduthundi

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 1, 2009 12:31 pm

      @admm…nice observation! those stunts were really funny!…totally reminded me of some horrendous movies of the past!..:)

      • Admm permalink
        August 1, 2009 1:11 pm

        Yeah..helicopter hit by jeep..thats totallay unbearable..had it been sloped down from edge of the rock and hitting on the way the helicopter is somewhat bearable.telugu cinema technicians unnecessarly wasting their talent in these kind of brainless scenes

        I saw review sunitha chowdary on cinegoer that its a strickly one time watch,,it god graphics and nothing else..i guess the same lady wrote yamadonga directed by same rajamouli as beautiful piece of art and action and talent.in my opinion yamadonga and magadheera stands on same bench and
        whoever likes or dislikes yamadonga,will have similar feeling on magadheera.,unless they are die hard fans of either hero/family or unless they are biased

        @Hemanth,u always write very good reviews.,i always read ur reviews..keep going..great work this time too

        • Hemanth permalink*
          August 1, 2009 9:21 pm

          @admm…I suppose, the “Woah” scenes in Telugu always have to do with blowing up cars, trucks, trains, sumos etc 100 feet in air! As you show, it’s high time our film makers stop indulging in such nonsense!

          And thanks a lot…I will try my best to improve the quality and content of my reviews..:)

        • Tilak permalink
          September 11, 2009 11:19 pm

          Admm,

          You mentioned “sunitha chowdary”. That itself is enough to tell you why she didn’t like the movie 🙂

          • Hemanth permalink*
            September 11, 2009 11:43 pm

            @Tilak: Any specific reason to point out Sunitha Chowdary?!..:D

  3. kavya permalink
    August 1, 2009 4:15 pm

    im nt a die hard fan of ram charan teja, i haven’t watched chiruta too.. i dint lik arundati even 5%!! nw temme hemanth, can i go watch dis movie??

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 1, 2009 9:19 pm

      @Kavya: Some of the visuals in “Arundhati” got very repetitive in the latter part of the movie…in that sense, “Magadheera” is much better. Yes, you should watch it…the story might not be new or brilliant…but then it’s wonderfully presented.

      • Admm permalink
        August 1, 2009 10:55 pm

        It definetly worth a watch for what movie delivers
        you wont have neither throbbing headache nor feeling that its hit when u come out of theatre

        Fans call it as a hit,anti fans call it as flop
        true critics call its OK film with good technical values

      • kavya permalink
        August 9, 2009 8:31 pm

        ive booked tickets fr tue! ll see d movie n get back 😉

  4. August 3, 2009 10:38 am

    The last Telugu film I watched in theater was Happy Days!! I think Magadheera would be the next one! 🙂

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 3, 2009 11:41 am

      @Anantha: It’s a pretty good one!…entertaining on the whole…:)

  5. August 3, 2009 8:47 pm

    I have been looked-down-upon by many for missing Chiruta and now showing no interest in this. I might (though not immediately) watch this film for the technical brilliance you mentioned.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 3, 2009 9:18 pm

      @Rajeev: Hehehe…well, Chiruta was a mere introduction of a Star Kid who could dance pretty well and was good with the stunts…yeah…I think you should watch “Magadheera”…forget the hero’s presence…it’s more about the presentation and narration…cliched story though!..:)

  6. AbhilashKolan permalink
    August 5, 2009 9:16 pm

    dude, nice review, but since I found out that most of the classics of my childhood are actually rip offs of hollywood movies, kinda turned me off from telugu movies, I did watch Bommarillu though, it was fun.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 5, 2009 9:41 pm

      @Abhilash: Dude…you should watch the regional movies from time to time…yeah..most of them are “inspired” by Hollywood and other World Cinema…but some of them are actually pretty decent when you compare the kinda evolution these films have undergone in terms of narration, presentation. Films like “Magadheera” can be an experience in itself, especially when there’s so much euphoria about it!…I think you should give it a chance this time… Let the Telugu Film Industry make some money from your side too!..:)

  7. Anvesh permalink
    August 7, 2009 4:22 pm

    Whoa ! Stud review. You should kick Jeevi in the ass, man.

  8. August 9, 2009 6:49 am

    Great post – Just subscriped to your RSS feed.. Thanks

  9. varma permalink
    August 13, 2009 2:29 am

    hi hemanth….. ur doing very well on ur blog. I advice u to add some more punching words when u r writing a review. It would b even better if u do like that and give ratings to the movie.
    lets come to the magadheera film what i felt is the villain character in this movie is not that much great as the villains in past rajamoulis films. The heroins father name is Pratap varma who is trying to get his property back frm the villain in gujarat. i dont think so in gujarat the rajputs(kings) uses the word varma as their last name. and raja mouli dint got no matter about hero parents in this movie. before hero first touches heroins hand( heroin introduction)they(ram and sunil) wil talk about their journey to abord for racing compitation. but after touching heroins hand just for a while he forgets to go and not even talk about it to his friend later also.. hmmmmmm how funny!!!!!!! any way u r writing ur blog awesomeeeeeeeeeee>>>>>>>>keep rocking

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 13, 2009 12:36 pm

      @Varma: Thanks for the suggestions…shall try it out in my upcoming reviews. As far as ratings go…I will have to think about it…so far I have been under the impression that ratings don’t justify the film, besides I can’t just rate a film just like that without taking into account all the factors….

      By the way, I think….
      1. Varma is a standard last name in Rajputs…maybe it’s spelt “Verma” sometimes. Of course, these days we don’t hear much about it.
      2. The kingdom of Udaygarh, may have been somewhere around Jaiselmer/Jodhpur if I am not wrong…in lot of scenes you can find vehicles with Rajasthan’s registration number. Only the scenes which have white sands(surface) were shot in Gujarat, I suppose..
      3. hehehe…keen observation!…:)

      • varma permalink
        August 13, 2009 12:47 pm

        ha ha…….. i do

  10. onefilmbuff permalink
    August 13, 2009 3:51 am

    I saw this movie only today. I have one suggestion for anyone who wants to see this movie.
    * Dont be too Judgemental and Critical about this movie.
    The best Telugu movies i have seen this year so far are Arundhati and Magadheera. Both have their flaws.
    But If you talk about the period scenes Arundhati is no competition for Magadheera. The 45 mins flashback is the best a Telugu movie has produced so far. Quite a few scenes from Arundhati were copied from other movies, namely Zhang Yimou’s ” The House Of Flying Daggers “. And in Magadheera except for the set that brings back memories of Gladiator, there isnt much that’s been lifted up from other movies, and that set cant be said as a copy cat either. In that sense i think its an original creation.I loved the art work, back ground score and charecters. But i dont think the dialogues were good enough but it was a movie that i would proudly show to a friend from another state.Yes i would have loved the movie much more without some ridiculous song sequences, the stupid climax and Srihari’s second charecter. But after 10 years or so if u think of Telugu movies you would certainly remeber Magadheera for sure.

    Hemanth @ i do agree about Rajamouli…. he goes flat during the last 15mins in most of his movies. He needs to work on it.He certainly is the best in the business, so i hope he does get better at it.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 13, 2009 12:27 pm

      @Onefilmbuff: I saw an interview of Rajamouli where he explains why it doesn’t make sense for him to have a brilliant ending…because he has already made his point in those intense scenes of flashback…and there’s no point continuing the same till the end.

      And yeah, I agree with your perspective regarding this film…it also has traces from films like Troy, 300 and Myth..:)

  11. kavya permalink
    August 13, 2009 10:02 am

    its a complete gimmick flick 🙂 Shiva idol in d movie was d best, but d movie lacked some links, like indu’s dad’s property n dat “gora”- wher did he come frm al of a sudden…!!?? n of course al d stunts,sri hari’s jeep carshing the helicopter, every1 speakn telugu in “udaygadh” in d flashback.. quite number of flaws but overall twas entertainin, atleast did’nt get bored anywher… but d movie seemed to pretty long!

    • Hemanth permalink*
      August 13, 2009 12:30 pm

      @Kavya: The original movie was about 3 hours and 40 minutes long…and what we saw on screen was under 3 hours…I guess that explains why you felt there were lot of missing links!….:)…Some scenes were ludicrous like Sri Hari’s antics in the post flashback scenes…but then the movie is packaged well…pretty good entertainer after a long time!..:)

  12. kavya permalink
    August 13, 2009 10:05 am

    scenes aft d flashback seemed borin n flat.. wish twas more interestin 😮

  13. krishna samala permalink
    August 13, 2009 11:22 pm

    Magadeera is awesome and I salute the effort put make this movie. Ram Charan and his manly macho looks like Greek veerudu fits so well into the role and made it all. The movie has raised the bar of Tollywood movies that never in the past. Ram fight skills, dance and some of horse ridding stunts were excellent. I wonder why Kajol did not get the past life visuals in the beginning, I can buy that since it is just an entertainment. I would rate 4.5/5.

  14. kavya permalink
    August 22, 2009 9:07 pm

    can u plz suggest a website to download telugu mp3 for free

  15. akhila g permalink
    November 2, 2009 2:29 pm

    Maghadheera was very awesome. the story of the 400years ago was veryyyyyyyyyyyyy awesome.You and kajal were very beautiful in 400years story

  16. rony permalink
    November 26, 2009 5:17 am

    Hi do any one knw that this movie is already ther in english ….. do any one knw the name pls write me back …. i saw this movie but forgot the name 😦

    My email: rony23roy@gmail.com

  17. raja777m permalink
    January 20, 2010 4:22 pm

    Hey guys after watching this movie i thought it was a nice film
    although it was a nice film
    i heard that this concept was copied from a Hollywood movie
    because in tollywood’s movie “Bumper offer” ali play the role of ram charan’s in magadheera
    becuse ali is a comedian and tries to make a spoof of this ovie to make fun in the move bumper offer
    so my query is:What is the original movie of magadheera where magadheera film was copied
    pls send me reply
    my email id is raja777m@gmail.com

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  1. Magadheera: Telugu Movie Review « Waking Life in 24 Frames | India Updates
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