Taking you satisfactorily closer to the man, Abhijit Panse’s film serves for an engaging watch
Ever since the trailers went out, Thackeray has been in hype for its unapologetic portrayal of the series of events taking place in Bal Thackeray’s life. Moreover, the transformation of Nawazuddin Siddiqui into the founder of Shiv Sena has been garnering positive comments across the circles. Bal Thackeray has been powerful, controversial, bold, and fierce- elements bringing together a thrilling piece crafted especially for big screens.
The biographical film chronicles the life of fiery journalist and cartoonist and Shiv Sena founder Bal Keshav Thackeray, his professional career, his rise in politics, his ideologies, his family life, and also the controversies surrounding him.
Thackeray works at two levels literally- those who knew him from the closer vicinity may find the film lacking. But those who know of him- the film will take them closer to the man.
The story is by Sanjay Raut, a politician from Shiv Sena. Written by Abhijit Panse himself, the writing credits also go to Arvind Jagtap and Manoj Yadav. Talking of the subject, its a story as close to reality as possible, ‘as possible’ meaning what could be brought out in public domain. With catchy one liners hitting you with adrenaline and at the same time evoking humour at their class to scenes crafted with smart direction, the flow never lets you take your eyes off. While the monochrome adss visual splendour, the colour sequences too create the necessary aura.
Right from his professional career as a cartoonist in Free Press Journal to him becoming Bala Saheb from a mere Bal; to his say in crucial issues like Indian Emergency or cricket matches between India and Pakistan, and most notably his alleged involvment in Babri Mosque Demolition, the film presents a scale worth admiring.
The 138mins film serves for an interesting biopic, in a way giving a whole lot of novel information to average movie frequenting audience and also to those not quite well verse with politics or Shiv Sena in particular. The screenplay brims with stories which hitherto remained behind the curtains. Barring the cinematic liberty and creative freedom, it is these stories and facets that give the film the required cinematic appeal. Also the allegorical imagery on offer is not only intelligent but also breathtaking. With a stunning intermission shot, you are ensured its not just another casual biopic.
His men ready to do anything just by him saying or one of his activists’ temple adorned with his picture, the colours of the flags, the names given to episodes in the narratives, his meeting with Indira Gandhi during Emergency, and the point where the film ends are smartly executed, providing great content to intelligent audience alike.
What and how much can you say about Nawazuddin’s genius? A few months ago only you saw a Muslim author in him. And here is he giving life to a Hindu leader, of such stature and power. One after the other, Siddiqui seems to be tirelessly shaping his filmography, that too with so much aplomb. He slips into the shoes of Thackeray, not just physically, but also while delivering lines, with so much conviction that you only see Balasaheb and not the actor. Hats off to Siddiqui for being a dreaded gangster (Sacred Games), a writer advocating freedom of thought (Manto), and a valiant leader here, in just a matter of few months.
Amrita Rao as Thackeray’s wife is very good. She has a well etched role, although not a lengthy one. She brings relief in the otherwise hard hitting plot, that too contributing significantly to the emotional side of the film.
The supporting cast although not very popular adds correct support in the plot.
Music by Rohan-Rohan and Sandeep Shirodkar is just okay. With only one song, that too in the end credits can be easily missed. Background score by Amar Mohile is excellent. Filling you with gut wrenching thrill at various points, it helps immensely in building the character in your minds.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s camera is something to discuss in film classes. The way the characters are established and how the elements are placed within the frame are spectacular. There are a number of symbolic shots too. Also reminding you of cinematography in RGV’s film (a good thing), the camera aids the screenplay in the best possible manner. Also, the lighting is to take a special note of. The way the lead character is shown in various kinds of lighting over the course of the film is praiseworthy.
Editing by Ashish Mahatrae and Apurva Sahai is too good to adore. Audio and visual cuts and the montages at just the right places keep you hooked, cinematically and symbolically.
Production design by Sandeep Ravade is awe-inspiring to say the least. The film being a period drama of sorts, the overall visual appeal is something to cherish. Also, a big shout out to the costume and make-up team for never going overboard.
Thackeray remains a justified biopic, with ingredients from real life handpicked to make into a film story. Its interesting to watch popular issues playing on screen and discovering Thackeray’s say on them. The man’s unabashed portrayal is very likely to find takers. Go watch it, for great entertainment, dramatic, and cinematic qualities.