Thalaivii Review: There is no reason to watch the film despite Kangana Ranaut

Review: J Jayalalithaa is such a powerful name in Indian politics that it seems a natural thing to watch a film on her. In the name of biopic, Indian films and especially in Hindi films, often glorifying scripts are written half-heartedly. Watching films made on former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh or current Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes it clear that making a biopic is a very difficult task. It is the most difficult to decide what to put in the story and what to edit. It is impossible to cover Jayalalithaa’s life in a two and a half hour film, but what message she wants to convey through the biopic is also left out of the story. Thalaivi is the story of a woman’s entry into politics and her victory over her rivals, something we have seen before and it would be difficult to find another reason to watch her this time.

The story of Vidya Balan’s film ‘The Dirty Picture’ was based on the life of Silk Smitha. How an unknown and strange looking girl makes her place in the film industry and challenges the hegemony of men. The film was successful so there was talk of taking Vidya Balan for Thalaivi. Tamil actress Nayanthara also agreed to do this role. But eventually Kangana Ranaut was taken. Kangana also worked hard for this role. Jayalalithaa used to take steroid injections for ill health and due to that her weight had increased a lot. Kangana gained about 18 kg. Also learned Bharatnatyam from the famous dance guru Gayatri Raghuram which was put on a stage show in the film. Jayalalithaa learned Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri and Kathak in her personal life.

The most important person in Jayalalithaa’s life was Bharat Ratna MG Ramachandran, who was not only a hero with her in many films but also her mentor or guide. The relationship of both is shown beautifully in the film and the dignity of the relationship has been maintained. Significantly, the character of MGR, Arvind Swami was selected. He was also the best character in the entire film and he gave it new heights with his acting. The dialogues between MGR and Jayalalithaa are written with utmost seriousness by Rajat Arora (Once Upon a Time in Mumbai). In the scenes of two phone calls between the two, Rajat’s writing has given voice to the silence. MGR’s image in Tamil Nadu was like a deity and Arvind Swamy has very effortlessly added humanity to the character. Arvind Swamy deserves an award for this film.

The film was conceived by producer Vishnu Vardhan Induri when he was working on the biopic of another actor-turned-politician NT Rama Rao. He approached well-known and successful director AL Vijay. After several months of researching Jayalalithaa’s life, Vijay enlisted Vijayendra Prasad, the most successful screenwriter of Telugu films. Vijayendra Prasad has written scripts for many successful films like Bahubali, Eega, Mersal, Magadheera, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Manikarnika. For several months, the research material was removed by putting the research material in a row and keeping many stories in the script. Vijayendra considers this film to be one of his toughest scripts. Jayalalithaa’s personality changed over time, and it was a really difficult task to tie her together and keep her negative image out of the original story of the film.

From the point of view of writing, why the dialogue was kept in the film was incomprehensible. Kangana has done amazing in some scenes. His nervousness seemed natural in his speech as a Rajya Sabha MP in front of Indira Gandhi in Delhi. Secretly, MGR and Jayalalithaa travel in a plane, where they express themselves without being Kangana Ranaut. This film must have been easy for Kangana, although she herself denies this. She gives credit to her director for the entire film and also to Vijay for getting the best out of him, while no special work of the director is seen in the film.

Nassar has been given a role based on Karunanidhi’s character. There is a small role which Prakash Raj was supposed to play earlier. His character needed some priority and MGR’s political mentor Annadurai’s character of South’s stalwart is absent from the film. The case against Jayalalithaa for possessing disproportionate assets has also been taken lightly in the film. His political rivals, those jealous of his closeness with MGR, his secretary Sasikala and her family, gold jewellery, collection of saris, bags and shoes etc. have been kept completely away from the film. The humiliation she faced as an actress, as an emerging politician and then as a politician has been brought into the film, but it was not shown in such a strong way that due to that a sense of protest and rebellion could arise in Jayalalithaa.

Thalaivi is a normal film. We have seen many such movies. The original research that was done behind Jayalalithaa’s character probably could not find a place in the film and only film dialogues and film scenes were included in the script, they also could not become very effective scenes. It would be wrong to see the film as a biography on Jayalalithaa. Watch as an ordinary film, maybe you will like it because the writers and directors have made the narrative of the story with the help of small incidents instead of the original story, and watching episodic films has its own fun.

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