Thalaivi Movie Review: A Handy Biopic
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swamy, Nassar, Bhagyashree, Samuthrakani, Madhu Bala and others
Cinematography: Vishal Vital
Music: Prakash Kumara
Editor: Anthony, Ballu Saluja
Producers: Vishnu Vardhan Induri & Shaailesh R Singh
Direction: AL Vijay
Date of publication: Sep 10. 2021
The story begins with Jayalalithaa’s early days as an actress. Jayalalithaa doesn’t want to be an actress but her mother (Bhagyashree) insists.
In no time, she gets the chance to star opposite the Tamil film industry’s matinee idol, MJR (Arvind Swamy, MGR’s name has been changed).
Despite being married to Janaki Ramachandran, MGR maintains a relationship with Jayalalithaa. He becomes her mentor and lover. When he decides to pursue a career in politics, MJR is forced to end his relationship with her.
Years later, he meets her again and invites her into politics. She quickly learns the tricks of the trade and becomes a formidable leader who faces many adversaries and obstacles. She becomes a Member of Parliament and also impresses Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
After MJR’s death, the ruling party’s MLAs abuse their male chauvinism Jayalalitha (Kangana Ranaut) in Tamilnadu’s Legislative Assembly Chamber.
She promises that she will not return to the Assembly Hall until after she becomes the Chief Minister. She eventually becomes the CM and that’s where the movie ends.
Performances by artists:
Despite having no physical similarities to Jayalalithaa, award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut portrays the role with conviction. She is believable in the first half, but also goes wrong in some sequences. Kangana generally stars in the role of Jayalalithaa.
Aravind Swamy as MGR is fascinating. When we have to give numbers, Aravind Swamy walks away with distinction. He’s one of the best performances we’ve seen lately.
Samuthirakani is also brilliant. Nasser in the role of Karunanidhi is okay. Madhoo as Janaki Ramachandran is convincing.
In historical films like this, cinematography, music and artwork have to be perfect. Cinematographer Vishal Vittal puts it beautifully in focus.
Ramakrishna and Monika’s production design is beautiful. Together they managed to bring the atmosphere of a bygone era. The music and songs are weak. Dialogue writing is neat.
The performance of Aravind Swamy
Some dramatic scenes
“The story we all know, the life story we don’t know.” The trailer of “Thalaivi” proclaimed that the above lines raised our expectations of the film, which is a biopic about J Jayalalithaa, the glamorous actress turned politician.
Jayalalithaa was chief minister of Tamilnadu six times and was one of the powerful leaders in India in her time. Her name was Puruchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader). Her dramatic political story is known to all. But the film shows no more than what is known to the general public in her political life.
“Thalaivi” is like two parts in one. The first half deals with her career in the film world and her love affair with MGR. The second half is about her political moves.
The story works when the cinematic journey is shown. The scenes between Jayalalithaa and MGR make for funny moments. It also shows how deeply she loved him. Also the adversarial relationship between Jayalalitha and MGR’s trusted assistant has great moments.
MGR’s assistant even burns the film reels when an actress tries to get close to the hero. He does the same tricks with Jayalalithaa, but she averts his moves with her clever tactics.
The thread of the Jayalalitha-MGR love affair has many interesting sequences. But the big mistake is that the creators have shown as if she was only linked to MGR. Hardly any mention is made of the films she had made in Telugu, Kannada and other languages.
When released in Telugu, some scenes to her portraits with NTR and ANR in professional life and the brief alleged relationship she had with Sobhan Babu would have been addressed.
In other places, the film follows the same template as the NTR biopic. The political sequences are dull, cinematic.
Towards the end of the film, we don’t learn anything about her life story that we don’t know. In real life, Jayalalithaa had a dramatic rise from a glamor star to a popular leader and became a queen fighting the patriarchal political system. “Thalaivi” brings some incidents in her life to the screen, but we get to know little about her real persona.
The film only shows one side of her life. The makers have chosen to tell the only certain period of her life (positive aspect). It was the same problem with the NTR biopic.
In a nutshell, “Thalaivi” gives a glimpse into the superstar heroine and the powerful leader’s life and (love) relationship with MGR. “Thalaivi” is an incomplete biopic with some dramatic parts, some boring sequences and lots of useful scenes.
Briefly: half biopic