Leader : Money, Power and E-Seva!
Release date: 19th Feb 2010
123Telugu.com Rating: 3/5
Director : Sekhar Kammula
Music Director : Mickey J Meyar
Producer : AVM Productions
Starring : Daggubati Rana, Richa Gangopadhyay, Priya Anand, Suman and others...
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Shekar Kammula’s latest film ‘Leader’ falls somewhere between being an inspiring film and a film trying too hard to convince you that it’s inspiring. ‘Leader’ is Shekar Kammula’s fourth film and with films like Anand and Happy Days, he has one of the few contemporary Telugu film directors who have carved a niche for themselves. The film also introduces Rana Daggubati to Telugu film industry and apart from him two new actresses Richa Gangopadhyay and Priya Anand made their debut in Telugu. AVM studios produced the film. ‘Leader’ narrates the story of a man who becomes a politician to bring a change in the system.

What is it about : Rana stars as Arjun Prasad, a Harvard student who lands in India when his father, the CM, is assassinated. His father (Suman) has one last wish, that Arjun should become the CM. However, all the political moves are played by Arjun’s uncle (Kota Srinivasa Rao) and Arjun’s relative Dhananjay (Subba Raju) also has a dream of becoming the CM. Quite soon, Arjun realizes that although his father was good at heart, he was too corrupt and had amassed over Rs.20,000 crores of illegal wealth. What does Arjun do with this money? Does he fulfill his father’s last wish? That forms the rest of this political drama.

What is Good: The central theme of the story about the coming of age of a young guy who goes on to become a leader is the USP of the film. It’s a theme which has a lot of soul and Shekar Kammula tries to infuse with as much drama as possible into this theme. Rana Daggubati makes a confident debut. He has a great screen presence and his diction is impeccable. Some of the most important and inspiring scenes in the film are written for Rana who excels in most of them with aplomb. Be it the scene where he dictates terms to his uncle or his humbleness while interacting with the poor, Rana makes sure that his stern gaze has a lot of sincerity. For every leader there has to be an equally strong rival and Subba Raju fits into this role perfectly. His role as Dhananjay, an ambitious politician who’s full of hatred and ego is remarkably written. Each scene where there’s a face-off between Rana and Subba Raju produces enough sparks to set the screen on fire. Harshavardhan as Rana’s aide does a commendable job. Suhasini and Kota Srinivasa Rao show a lot of restrain and grace in their acting. Both of them have a lot of influence on Rana’s character and it shows on screen. The two lead actresses, Richa Gangopadhyay and Priya Anand seem to have understood the limitations of their characterizations and they perform well. Since the film isn’t a love story, there’s hardly any onscreen chemistry between Rana and the two actresses. However, ‘Avunana Kaadhana’ song on Rana and Richa adds a whole lot of zing to the little moments of love with they share onscreen.

What is bad: Shekar Kammula’s version of how politics and politicians function these days is too uni-dimensional. Maybe, everyone is indeed corrupt as portrayed in the film, but beyond money there’s ego, greed and power-mongering. Except for Subba Raju’s role, these characteristics go for a toss among other politicians. A more serious issue is the way Shekar Kammula sets the story. It’s all too conveniently written for Arjun Prasad (Rana) that his father is the CM and he has oodles of money to splurge. Politics maybe about power, but what happened to democracy? What happened to the struggle which a wannabe politician has to undergo to become a leader? It looks as if Dr.Arjun Prasad uses too much of ‘Harvard Gyan’ to do his job and probably he takes his job so seriously that he hardly knows any other emotion except than looking serious all the time. On the other hand, the characterizations of the women especially Richa and Priya are the weakest when compared to all of Kammula’s earlier heroines. Of course, both of them are strong-willed and independent but their being a part of the story hardly makes a difference! No wonder, both of them have such little role to play in the scheme of things, yet the film drags a lot in the second half.

Technical Departments: Mickey J Meyer’s background score is outstanding in the film. It manages to hold and also arouse interest in all the vital scenes and elevates the mood throughout the film. Thota Tharani’s art is good and most of the bungalows, offices, and meeting halls look authentic. Vijay C Kumar’s cinematography is top notch. Marthan K Venkatesh’s editing is good and especially fantastic in the final act of the film. And finally, the man himself, Shekar Kammula who wrote the story, screenplay, dialogues apart from directing the film. His earlier stories were closely attached to reality and more about personal issues between friends. However, with ‘Leader’ he attempts to do something larger than life and creates this huge bubble of dreams and aspirations of what a ‘Leader’ should be like. The film is cramped in with so many details that somehow he ignores addressing some key issues such as ‘Is the last wish, a reason strong enough to take the responsibility for 8 crore people?’ among many other things. The dialogues in the film are brilliantly written and on the whole, Shekar Kammula manages to end the story on a high note.

Bottomline: It’s good to see that a top director has chosen to deal with politics in his films and kudos to debutant actor Rana for this honest and brave attempt. However a brief comparative analysis of the recent ‘political’ hits would suggest that struggle is a necessity (as in Shankar’s ‘Oke Okkadu) and an ego clash is fantastic (as in Mani Ratnam’s ‘Iddharu’) if a political drama has to be well-received by people. Shekar Kammula’s version of ‘Leader’ is set in an institution of monarchy and sadly the common man who should have been the most important part of the drama is given a miniscule role to play. It carefully concentrates only on ‘What if’ we had a leader like this. ‘Leader’ is the kind of film which will make you want to connect the dots with real life scenarios and Shekar Kammula cleverly pitches some characters which have resemblance to a few in our real life as well. It’s bound to appeal differently to different people and for this reason alone it’s quite possible that your opinion of the film will differ from others. Yes, it’s an honest film with loads of goodness but it’s too preachy than what it should have been. But then, everything is done with a good intention and the final act of the film along with ‘Maa Telugu Talliki’ and ‘Leader-Youth of the Nation’ songs, is amazingly shot and it sort of gives you Goosebumps! It’s a film which could have been much better and themes like this come once in a blue moon on such a large canvas with big budgets, big stars and big names attached. Watch it, because it’s a Shekar Kammula’s film with some good performances, good intentions and there’s still some hope left for more films on this theme of politics.

P.S: The only question which really matter is, ‘Does it Inspire You?’ Well, I will leave the ball in your court.

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123Telugu.com Rating : 3 /5

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