From the depths of the history pages comes another story that brings truth to the phrase, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” As enemies at borderlines seek for the perfect moment to pounce and internal conflicts mount Ganapati Deva Chakravarthy (Krishnam Raju) and his Mahamantri Shiva Devayya (Prakash Raj) make a decision like no other in the era of 13th Century of the Kakatiya dynasty. A decision to hide from the world the real gender of the heir to the throne. Thus giving birth to hope to the people of the kingdom. From that point Rudrama Devi (Anushka Shetty) became known to the world as Rudra.
As a starting point to a story being told in a story, the idea that Marco Polo unveils the tale of Rudrama Devi to Duke Sforza of Milan as a potential solution to the Duke’s problem is an intriguing concept. One begins to wonder if there is any truth to this concept or is it just the director’s ingenious writing. Delving deeper into screenplay, it becomes hard to determine the fact from fiction as director Gunasekhar intricately placed them side by side. Music for Ilaiyaraja has always been something that adds to a film immensely and Rudrama Devi is no different. The let down in the form of the translation/reversing takes away from the songs but the BGM keep you interested. Ajay Vincent has done wonders to the setup but how one wishes the art direction (Thotta Tharani) and the CG and animation were up to par. Comparisons are not needed as the film still holds its grandeur but the misses are evident. The experience would have been a much more exhilarating to see if the editor (A. Sreekar Prasad) kept the length intact as well.
However, the aspect that you would walk away with in fascination and in awe of is the cast. Right from our leading lady Rudrama Devi, played by Anushka Shetty. In the past this lass has proven she is capable of holding her own and she does it once again in a role reversal like no other. She is timid, sensitive and full of life as Rudrama Devi yet stern, intelligent and dignified as she plays Rudra. A tough task as we have seen in the past for any actor to accomplish. Even her younger version played by Ulka Gupta makes stand with maturity. Next up is the cameo to steal all cameos. The cameo to charm the pants off all other cameos. Allu Arjun has always had a knack of making his presence felt and it’s wonderful to see him in a role so divergent from his mainstream characters. He has always had a group of critiques questioning his target audience since he is the Stylish Star of Tollywood. Gona Ganna Reddy is his reply to those critiques as he reshapes his physical appearance and his modulation while retaining his natural charm. Next is the dashing Rana Daggubati whom we last saw in another epic film as the antagonist. This time he steps into the supporting protagonist in Rudrama Devi as Chalukya Veerabhadra. As a warrior he is fierce and as love struck young man, he is adorable. Prakash Raj and Krishnam Raju have significant roles and both portray them with the poise of royalty as they truly are. Nithya Menon is truly a delight as Muktamba, while Catherine Tresa adds to the glamour. Yet there is a drawback with the cast as well. Every hero knows he is only as good as his nemesis. From Suman to Aditya to Vikramjeet Virk to Hamsa Nandini who plays the seducing spy. Each is capable and brings up the sinister side of their roles but they fall short in comparison and thus wishing their roles had more substance to them.
As you leave the theatre halls, you may have a giggle at some of the stunts, and the CG work may remind you of computer games but it’s the narration that has your mind in whirl. The “what if”s and “could it be”s that run a million miles an hour are the success to the director and his team. The connection to the true story of Rudramadevi is the reason this is a very special film. It may not be perfect but like Rudramadevi herself, it will shine like a light in history.