The politics that unfolded in the Telugu lands in the last decade and a half have been very eventful and dramatic, resulting in the rise or downfall of leaders and parties. It is a Herculean task to pack in the important political milestones and associated emotions that occurred between 2009 and 2019 in a two-hour movie. Yatra 2, directed by Mahi V. Raghav, attempts to capture the journey of the current Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, from the time he was thrust onto the political stage immediately after the sudden death of his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR).
The movie is a sequel to Yatra, which showed how former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy stormed to power in 2004 with his signature padayatra (walkathon). In both installments, senior Malayalam actor Mammootty plays YSR convincingly. To a great extent, Yatra 2 is a biopic of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, played by Jiiva. The basic plot of Yatra 2 is public knowledge, and probably that is also the USP of the film, as politics is a keenly followed subject in the southern states.
The movie opens with the final days of YSR when he gets re-elected as the chief minister of a united AP in 2009. In the simultaneous elections held for Parliament, his son Y.S. Jagan gets elected as an MP of Progress Party (a fictionalised name for the Congress). It is here that Jagan gets a bitter taste of dealing with the high-handedness of the Delhi central leadership. The audience is introduced to the bond that the son and the father share.
Post the tragic helicopter accident of YSR, a young Jagan is seen absorbing the shock of losing his father while those around him indulge in scheming and planning. It is here that some controversial revelations are made, which makes the movie interesting. For a long period, Y.S. Jagan’s opponents had alleged that it was Jagan who wished to be the CM after the demise of his father.
According to the movie, it was the leaders in the Congress party who hastily wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi to make him the CM without his knowledge. And it was senior leaders close to Sonia Gandhi who provoked and misled her into antagonizing Jagan.
The film is full of real-life politicians like K.V.P. Ramchandar Rao (Subhalekha Sudhakar) who add intensity and depth to the narrative that Jagan was the victim of a witch-hunt by both Sonia Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu (Mahesh Manjrekar). The movie also lays bare the alleged backdoor dealings between Congress and Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to sideline Jagan. Mirroring reality, Jagan defies the Progress Party high command and starts his own party, and then lands up in jail on corruption charges.
Yatra 2 also has interesting details about how Jagan was asked to support a bill of the Central government in return for bail, and how he turned down the offer. The second half of the movie follows Jagan reviving himself while following his father’s strict ideals, values, and a padayatra to clinch power. The filmmakers used original footage of Jagan and YSR family in bits and pieces, which is a good value addition to the movie.
Jiiva as Jagan gives his best shot emulating his expressions and body language. The movie’s background music is average and on many occasions fails to elevate the scenes. The screenplay is good. Whether it is showcasing his 2017 padayatra or the aftermath of the release of Jagan on bail or when he started a party, the movie looks to be in a hurry to capture all the elements of Y.S. Jagan’s political life, and in the process fails to mete out special treatment to some of his high moments.
Though the director does try his best to keep the movie as realistic as possible, Yatra 2 makes for an interesting watch even for those who are not political enthusiasts.
Movie: Yatra 2
Cast: Mammootty , Jiiva, Mahesh Manjrekar, Subhalekha Sudhakar
Director: Mahi V. Raghav