Sandeep Madhav Brings Fiery Student Leader Alive in ‘George Reddy’

The film released on 22 November.

Updated22 Nov 2019, 01:01 PM IST
Movie Reviews
3 min read

George Reddy

Sandeep Madhav Brings Fiery Student Leader Alive in ‘George Reddy’

Jeena hai tho marna seekho
Kadam kadam par ladna seekho
- George Reddy

George Reddy is a biopic on the titular character, directed by Jeevan Reddy and starring Sandeep Madhav. Reddy was a student leader at Hyderabad’s Osmania University from the late 1960s up until he was stabbed to death on campus in 1972.

Just when you think the movie is nothing more than a series of hero-building montages, Sandeep Madhav’s complete descent into his character blows you away. So, is it worth your time? Does it hold for 2.5 hours? Read on.

Not a Xerox Copy

George Reddy was a gold medalist and easily the brightest student in college at the time. This is a fact. He was also a kick-boxer and knew martial arts. Also a fact. He was a brilliant orator and was quite charming. We have a two-minute video monologue from an old documentary, and some college photographs as proof. Everything else is hearsay, anecdotal and has multiple versions.

Sandeep Madhav gets Reddy’s diction and inflections right in the documentary interview shot. But for the rest of the film, there’s no separation between character and actor. And this was something he did from the first frame.

Sandeep Madhav as student leader George Reddy.
Sandeep Madhav as student leader George Reddy.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab)

Sandeep has minimal dialogues in the film. He conveys seething, righteous indignation through his expressions and body language. And he does this surprisingly well. Just when the pressure builds to boiling point, he explodes in a flurry of punches and kicks to his oppressors. His first public lecture on campus was a treat to watch. There is cinematic build up to the scene, but once Sandeep starts to speak, George Reddy takes over!

Ram Gopal Varma’s iconic film ‘Shiva’ and a number of Telugu films centred around a college student hero are based on George Reddy’s character. And while the biopic is the most recent in the line of such films, it feels sufficiently authentic to be considered the ‘original’.

Director Jeevan Reddy has delivered one hell of a ride for his second film. It is a languid ride with bursts of action and emotion that holds right till the end.

The Music and the 60s

The supporting cast of <i>George Reddy </i>are perfect for their roles.
The supporting cast of George Reddy are perfect for their roles.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab)

The supporting cast, most of whom are familiar faces in Telugu cinema, fit right into their roles. In a conversation, Sandeep told me that they lived as college students during the shoot. And it shows in the chemistry that the classmates share on screen, both friends and enemies.

But it is Thiruveer as Lallan who stands out. He plays a goon’s cowardly younger brother who is as vengeful as he is weak.

Suresh Bobbili’s music is charmingly reminiscent of the ’60s with bongos and guitar riffs driving the nostalgia and the narrative.

Larger Than Life?

George Reddy is too good to be true. His classmates, some of whom fought by his side, say he could hold off ten people single-handed in a fight. Even professional thugs. It’s hard to believe when you hear someone say it. But on the big screen, watching the wonderfully subtle and subdued Sandeep Madhav throw an un-choreographed punch, you begin to believe the stories. And more importantly, you begin to believe in George Reddy.

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Published: 22 Nov 2019, 12:53 PM IST
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