Director: Mahi Raghav
Cast: Mammootty, Sachin Khedekar, Rao Ramesh and Jagapathi Babu
Rating: 3/5

Mammootty-starrer Yatra, directed by Mahi Raghav, is one of those political films you wish had more to offer than merely focusing on one particular event. The idea to build a story based on a single event might sound exciting on paper but when translated on screen, it needs more heft to make the story really captivating.

As much as Yatra makes one root for YS Rajasekhar Reddy and the most significant moment of his political career – the padayatra (walkathon) which changed the course of politics in Andhra Pradesh – one really wishes the film had more to offer. Nevertheless, it’s an extraordinary story of one man’s vision and how it made him a messiah of sorts for the poor and underprivileged.

Watch the trailer for Yatra:

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What really makes Yatra a solid – if not great – political film is the fact that it does not try to make YSR appear heroic, despite having a star like Mammootty essay the character. It humanizes the protagonist and makes us really understand why YSR was a powerful leader and what set him apart from his contemporaries.

Mammootty couldn’t have chosen a better character for his comeback film, Yatra.

The walkathon segment, which really is the soul of the film, really makes us root for YSR. The film focuses on two major issues that were addressed during the padayatra — farmer suicides and lack of good healthcare to the poor. The two populist schemes are fittingly narrated through two elaborate sequences which are easily the best stretches of the story which otherwise doesn’t have much more to offer. Yatra is neither a full-length political drama nor a propaganda film. It is a docudrama at best when it focuses on the padayatra, devoid of any major twists and turns that usually leave you in awe.

Mahi Raghav, who has made a mark with lesser known but well-made films like Paathshala and Anando Brahma, proves that he can handle subjects that need to be told on a large scale. He handles the story of YSR with sensitivity and could have easily played it safe. But he surprises everyone by making this story stand out.

Mammootty makes a grand return to Telugu cinema after two decades. When you walk out watching Yatra, Mammootty leaves one with the feeling that he couldn’t have chosen a better character for his comeback. As YSR, he almost nails every trait that makes the character memorable, including his walk and his signature hand wave. No other actor could’ve played this character with the kind of effortlessness Mammootty brings to his performance.

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First Published: Feb 08, 2019 16:17 IST


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