Leader, released on Fed 10th, 2010, is the brain child of the extremely talented writer director, Shekhar Kammula. It is a political drama, taking inspiration from the political situation in Andhra Pradesh. It stars Rana Daggubati as the main protagonist, along with Richa Gangopadhyay, Priya Anand, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Harshavardhan, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Subbaraju, and is produced by MS Guhan, Aruna Guhan and Aparna, cinematography by Vijay C Kumar and music by Mickey J Meyer.
Arjun Prasad, a PhD from Harvard University, comes back to India when his father is killed in a landmine blast. On the insistence of his mother he decides to fulfil his father’s last wishes, that he become the next Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. But the journey is not all that easy. The post of CM is already promised to Dhananjay (Subbaraju) by his uncle Peddayana (Kota Srinivasa Rao), who already has a number of rape cases pending. Arjun has a tough task of getting the top post for himself. He decides to use the policies of the politicians against themselves and buys them all. He executes his plan so well that he succeeds.
Once he enters the political field, he is stunned to see just how corrupted everyone is, including his father. He makes eradication of corruption his main goal, only to realise that the very system he represents will mar his every step making it very difficult for him to execute his plans.
The first half is very well structured and balanced, but when it comes to the second half, Shekhar loses that balance by introducing a love angle. The different and inspiring leader falling in love with an ordinary girl just turns it into another romantic flick. This romance set in a totally political environment could have been greatly used to set things in motion. The best thing about the movie is how the protagonists character is written, how he is appalled by what he sees, how he has one goal and one goal only, and how desperately he wants to see a change and what he is willing to do to make it happen. The movie has some very powerful dialogues, especially between Rana and Kota Srinivasa Rao, the scenes, even more powerful, where one is seeing his entire party in chaos, trying hard to control the reins and the one causing all the chaos and promising a not so satisfying end to all those craving for power. The screenplay is fabulous, showing corruption, the heinous activities politicians are ready to do without any remorse to get into a position of power. The music is also a great plus point. They have used a lot of old super hit songs to grab the attention of the audience.
There are a few places where Shekhar goes all wrong, especially when it comes to the media. He does show the media as wanting a change but not as someone who is interested in news. They are happen to have one new as CM, but are not at all concerned about his personal life. He does deserve credit for scripting his characters extremely thoughtfully. Rana does a great job as a maverick, awe inspiring yet calm and composed leader, Priya Anand is perfect as the bubbly girl who bravely makes a deal even with the CM. Richa Gangopadhyay looks very pretty and nice but her character seems slightly lacking.
Leader is a great watch, even for those who are not interested in politics. To see a leader who gives up for a lack of choice is unexpected yet moving. You feel for the young leader striving with everything he is to encourage people to see a change. It might not be a realistic presentation of politics in the present world, but tries to show that those who have the will to make a difference can do it. Watch out for the second half to see if all goes well for this new age Leader.