Bollywood Queen Kangana Ranaut's Thalaivi, a biopic on former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa has been the most talked-about movie across the country during the last couple of years. With Vijayendra Prasad providing the story and a star-studded cast of Arvind Swami, Nasser, Samuthirakhani, movie lovers waited eagerly for the film. The film hit the screens on September 10 and let us see what magic the duo of Kangana and Vijayendra Prasad wove on movie lovers with Thalaivi.
Tamil Nadu opposition leader Jaya (Kangana Ranaut) gets humiliated and virtually molested by the ruling party MLAs watched silently by their leader and CM Karuna (Nassar). Jaya vows back to step into the Assembly only as the CM defeating all her opponents. To find out whether Jaya emerged successful in her mission and how she entered films and subsequently into politics, what is her relationship with her mentor star actor and yesteryear CM MJR (Aravind Sami) and what roles Jaya's mother Sandhya (Bhagyashree), MJR's wife Janaki (Madhu Bala), close aide RM. Veerappan (Samuthirakani), Sasikala (Poorna), the then PM Indira Gandhi( Flora Jacob) played, watch Thalaivi on the silver screen.
Artists, Technicians Review
Director AL. Vijay readied the story along with Vijayendra Prasad based on the novel Thalaivi authored by Ajayan Bala. Everyone knows that former CM Jayalalithaa was known for her powerful persona on and off the screen. She was hailed as Amma and Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader). The story starts off on a powerful note with Jaya humiliated in the assembly. This sets the tone to take the film to another level showcasing how Jaya fought her adversaries.
The story quickly goes into flashback mode and shows how Jaya unwillingly becomes an actor and how she gets attracted to MJR and how MJR convinces her to enter into politics sailing their sinking boat of relationship due to misunderstandings and mistrust. Many expect Jaya to dominate these scenes, however, Jaya plays a passive role with the proceedings dominated by MJR and Karuna. Though the narration sails off in an interesting manner, the intensity level dips till the flashback ends at the stroke of the interval. The entire second half is about Jaya's political battle. All those scenes turned out to be overdramatic and at times looked artificial. The political speeches by rival parties looked just okayish and at times melodramatic. Even Jaya's rise in politics is not shown in the most powerful and intense manner one expects.
The real culprit happens to be AL. Vijay. He highlighted MJR in the entire first half and in few scenes in the second half. This makes people wonder whether they are watching a biopic of Jayalalithaa or MGR. While he has given a very detailed and minute narration of Jayalalithaa and MGR's relationship, for the time constraint, he cut short the scenes that would have highlighted and shown the real valor of Jayalalithaa. He missed the most important incidents in Jayalalithaa's life like how she was humiliated during MGR's death and how she singlehandedly took over the party after MGR's death, fighting a rebellion. Jayalalithaa's populistic measures which endeared herself to the people of the state are not highlighted as powerfully as one would have liked. He showed only mid-day meals in schools. The climax gives a rushed feeling and one gets a feeling that Thalavi did not showcase the real power of Jaya. Dialogues are good and impactful. Telugu dialogues must have been the translation of the Tamil version and so at times, the realistic feel is missing.
Kangana Ranaut did full justice to the role. She came with powerful expressions and emotions and carried the film on her shoulder. Kangana in few scenes looked exactly the same as Jayalalithaa but at times she looked completely different. Her costumes too at times looked silly and out of place. Kangana's lip-sync went missing completely and this gave an artificial feel at times failing to elevate the scenes. One cannot find fault with her as she delivered the dialogues in Hindi and that could be easily noticed. Aravind Swami nailed it as MGR. Be it his dialogues delivery, mannerisms, costumes, expressions, and emotions, he surprises all with his power-packed performance. In fact, he dominated Kangana Ranaut in many of the scenes. Samuthirakhani did well as MGR's close aide. Flora Jacob looked good as the then PM Indira Gandhi while Madhubala, Bhagyashree, and Poorna did not get much screen presence as Sandhya, Janaki Ramachandran, and Sasikala. Jayalalitha's relationship with Sasikala could have been highlighted even more.
Vishal Vittal's cinematography is beautiful. He showcased the 1960s,1980s atmosphere in a realistic and natural manner. GV. Prakash Kumar's music is good. All the songs are well shot but at times acted as speed breakers slowing the pace of the narration. However, his background music elevated the scenes. The editing of Anthony, Ballu Saluja is good but could have been better. Production values are grand.
Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swami
Director AL. Vijay's Thalaivi captured the imagination of all. The very thought of a biopic on Tamil Nadu's iron lady Jayalalithaa known as Puratchi Thalaivi excited many, especially Tamil Tambis. But for all the excitement, though he started off on a powerful note with the introduction scene, he missed the plot by giving more screen presence to Karunanidhi, MGR, etc and this diluted the power of Jayalalithaa. Even Kangana Ranaut for all her power-packed performance, at times her costumes gave her up and at times her lip sync. Food for thought. Would another actress skyrocket Thalaivi to another level? Considering Vijay's missing powerful incidents of Jayalalithaa and dominance of other characters instead of Jayalalithaa in her biopic where some of her lows been completely ignored, CJ goes with a 2.75 rating for Thalaivi.