Jayalalitha’s biopic by director Vijay, for the most part, remains true to the identity of the person, with minor cinematic flaws
Biopics are tricky. They always find themselves treading on the risky path of correct and not so correct. Truth or fiction. Thalaivii is a film made on one of the strongest and most powerful political figures the country has ever seen, who also had a long cinematic phase. The film is nearly as powerful as the person.
Watch the trailer here:
The film traces the journey of J Jayalalitha (Kangana Ranaut) and her rise in films and later on in politics.
The screenplay is penned by K Vijayendra Prasad and Rajat Arora with dialogues by Rajat Arora. The smarttes thing to that the writers have done is focus on the rise of Jayalalitha in two different worlds. As a matter of fact, after Jayalalitha became the CM of Tamil Nadu, her life has mostly been in the public domain. Whatever more was known of her, came after her death recently. What is less known is how she became an actress, her persona, her attitude, her will in life, her hesitation in joining politics, how she came to be known as Amma, and the likes.
The first half focuses on her cinematic career, her relationship with the superstar M G Ramachandran or MGR (here referred to as MJR), her rise in the film sector and a subtle fall as well. The second half puts her in the political field and her attitude, which was once served to you in the first half is built upon here for her political journey. How her party rose to prominence when it fell back, with her able vision, is what the second half begins with.
It’s the men in her life that she has to fight with or even fall in love with, personally or with their performances. To an extent that she calls herself the best actor, even among MGR (MJR) or Sivaji Ganesan. That’s been her life and if you are sharp enough, you’ll understand such mentions of sexism very often. Something that she battled with all her life.
Amid all this, is a beautiful relationship of a woman and a man, that runs parallely. What is also interesting that it is told from the perspective of a woman. These traits and notions and nature of what a woman feels in such situations have also been portrayed with intelligence, giving the film layers and depth.
The film may seem dull to a section of audience in the first half. It may seem that the cinematic phase of her life has been given much prominence and screen time. The second half is more on pace and grip, because for you know, this is what mainly shaped her life for the most part of it. This is the part that will have all your attention. The narrative is also set in a way that it has a flow, with incidents having their own importance and say in the overall structure.
Kangana Ranaut never gives any chance to raise finger on her acting. Here also, she shines incredibly well. She has many layers and shades to prove her worth and she doesn’t falter in any of that. She is emotional, gutsy, caring, affectionate, shrewd, powerful and what not. Rarely does it happen that a script gives so many shades to one actor in one single film.
Arvind Swami as MJR (MGR) is also very good. Faltering a bit on the dialogues intonation side, the dubbing also seems a little off. Otherwise, his performance is superlative.
Raj Arjun as RM Veerappan is also brilliant. He is present in almost every scene of the film and gives a supporting act that will be remembered for times to come. It is because of his presence that the screenplay gets much strength.
Nassar as M Karunanidhi is also very good and effective. The make up is also right on point. He resembles the politician to much closeness.
Bhagyashree in a small role is good and it is good to see her on screen. Madhoo also has a small role and she has a star appeal for faith, nothing more.
The songs by G V Prakash Kumar are made to suit the narrative but they don’t sound fitting and proper. May be because the tunes don’t go well with the Hindi version of the film. Also the lyrics by Irshad Kamil aren’t upto the mark. The background score however is something to commend about the film. The opening sequence itself wrenches you and sets the tone right only through an exceptionally placed score.
Cinematography by Vishal Vittal is good and well defined for the most part, especially the film shoot scenes of 70s and 80s. The colours seem odd, and that’s why you get a sense of the films of those times. This is also got to do with the thoughtfulness of production designers S Rama Krishna and Monika Nigotre. They have arranged the frames in a way that you get a clear idea of the times the scenes are set it.
Editing by Ballu Saluja could have been sharper in the first half, but no problems in the second one. Overall, it’s not a bad experience as you get good note of events that must have taken place in Jayalalitha’s life.
With very minor flaws, the film remains a good entertaining watch. It is a film for theatres. Go, watch it.