‘Thalaivii’, which is a biopic of Jayalalithaa, will hit the cinemas this Friday (September 10). Here is our review of the film:
Actor-turned-politician Jayalalithaa (Kangana Ranaut) has to challenge a lot of people and the system itself in her rise to superstardom in films and Chief Ministership in politics. The film traces her equations with actor-politician MG Ramachandran (Arvind Swami) and Veerappan (Samuthirakani), a trusted lieutenant of MGR. Her rise stumps her opponents. The story begins in 1960s and ends with Jaya becoming the CM for the first time in early 1990s.
The role required Kangana Ranaut not to mimic the personality she was portraying. And the ‘Queen’ actress gets it right. She is superb in most of the scenes, especially in the emotional ones. Arvind Swami, too, had made a conscious choice not to mimic MGR. He looks original and yet makes the viewer become nostalgic about the thespian.
Nasser’s M Karunanidhi is a rich performance, while Samuthirakani’s RM Veerappan (an architect of ADMK party) is neat. Bhagyashree as Jaya’s mother Sandhya, Madhu Bala as Janaki (MGR’s third wife) are outdone by Samuthirakani. Poorna as Sasikala is outdone by Thambi Ramaiah, who is Jaya’s well-wisher. Flora Jacob as Indira Gandhi is okayish.
GV Prakash Kumar composes four songs, but it is the interspersing of the scenes with the songs that is awesome. The BGM is uplifting in several segments. Vishal Vittal’s lens does a phenomenal job with some low-angle shots. Anthony’s editing is proper, with the run-time being 153 minutes.
Neeta Lulla and two others helm the costume department with finesse. The production design could have been so much better.
To the film’s credit, it doesn’t depict the central character’s fight against patriarchy in a dry manner. In his pre-release interview, actor Arvind Swami stated that the film shows the human aspect of political actors. The screenplay lives up to the description, by and large. However, it’s jarring that Karunanidhi is reduced to a caricature.
The scenes talk about the shady world of politics without making us feel like we are watching an outmoded drama. The element of power struggle was expected to be a key highlight, and writer KV Vijayendra Prasad ensures that it reaches our expectations.
The love story that ‘Thalaivii’ boasts of is impressively told even when it comes to sad situations.
An acute achievement of the film is that it makes us feel that we are watching OUR story, not our neighbour’s story. This is despite the fact that the name of the State, Tamil Nadu, is referred to a lot of times. Even Tamil songs from the MGR-Jaya days are played without dubbing them. Which is good.
To put the story in short, the first half is about how Jaya becomes MGR’s favourite co-star and also a platonic partner. She shows concern when her favourite person in life takes to active politics in a big way. Some of the dialogues are old-fashioned, though.
The second half is mostly about how Jaya makes an impact in the power corridors in the 1980s. She threatens the male chauvinists with her impeccable aura and charisma.
Does the film have flaws? Some of the narration feels too pro-Jaya. Even films like ‘NTR: Mahanayakudu’ were one-sided. But this one ducks even MGR to make Jaya look like a supernatural wielder of magic.
‘Thalaivii’ is worth a watch for sure. If you are tired of superficial dramas, this one is for you. It mixes both drama and reality with intelligence.