Mammootty's YSR biopic: A political message in an election year


Mammootty-starrer Yatra is a biopic which traces the Padayatra, or statewide political tour, which catapulted late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy to the CM's chair.

YSR's epic journey, which covered nearly 1,500 kilometers through the vast landscape of the then undivided state, forms the crux of the film.

Departing from the normal portrayal of the entire life of a cult personality, which is the norm in political biopics, Yatra traces through the Padayatra the YSR cult in Andhra. 

The movie somewhat underlines the fact that the Kadapa strongman burst out from the confines of his Rayalaaseema bastion to the length and breadth of Andhra through this Padayaatra.


Rural distress is the trigger that YSR as a political personality tapped to dethrone the incumbent political dispensation in Andhra then.

That is clearly the plot in which Mahi V Raghav has woven the Mammootty starrer. Perhaps the choice of Mammootty as the protagonist had more to do with the fact that Yatra portrays a much more matured YSR.


Mammootty has delivered his subtle finesse even while dealing with the intense melodramatic scenes that can't be done away with while portraying agrarian distress and plunging farm incomes in a state like Andhra.

Yatra is an out-and-out portrayal of YSR and hence Mahi has no qualms in showering Mammootty with maximum screen space.

The only other character of any consequence in the movie is donned by Jagapathy Babu as Raja Reddy,YSR's father. Jagapathy Babu has a brief role, but unlike his usual self, the camera pans the character of Raja Reddy only to narrate how YSR's tryst with politics happened.

Jagapathy Babu did complete justice to this portrayal of YSR, who apparently wanted his son to plunge into the vortex of politics rather than making him a doctor or engineer.


That YSR had a stint as a one-Rupee doctor is a different subplot that unravels in between.

That these themes of rural agrarian distress find a resonance in the wake of recent developments in a politically volatile election year is no coincidence. YSR's political rivals are identified by the colour of their shirts only and no real political figure of any significance gets to appear in the movie on that count.

Strangely enough, the real political rivals of YSR, as per the movie, is within his own party and the representative of the party High Command, who is shown his place in unequivocal terms by the political maestro that is YSR.

The movie drops subtle hints that YSR had grown bigger than the party itself in Andhra. The party is forced to acknowledge this due to his massive popularity, much to the chagrin of his rival factions and the high command representative.

At first, the protagonist shows some reluctance to embark on a do-or-die political mission to wrest control of the state, that was its fiefdom for years. As YSR gains massive political clout through the Yatra, it is only natural that the camera has to pan a sea of humanity – or in political parlance the masses -- during the entire course of the movie.

Yatra is not a mass movie as such but it has a few songs to perhaps convey the rural distress, which resulted in farmer suicides during that time in Andhra.

The song in which the drum-wielding chorus of political sympathisers celebrate the YSR phenomenon could have been avoided.

But as we realise in the end, the filmmakers did not deem it necessary to conceal the political message of YSR's legacy through the movie.

As the Yatra culminates, YSR is catapulted to the CM's chair.

And then real life clippings of YSR taking oath twice and mingling with the masses adorn the screens.

Even his political heir Y S Jaganmohan Reddy's real life clippings then get screen space.

Visuals of YSR in a helicopter as well as the grief of the Telugus after his tragic demise then inundate the screen.

Now, we know that Yatra is indeed visualised to be a political message more than a movie.

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