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Thalaivi Review: A Convenient Biopic

Thalaivi Review: A Convenient Biopic

Movie: Thalaivi
Rating: 2.5/5
Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swamy, Nassar, Bhagyashree, Samuthrakani, Madhu Bala, and others
Cinematography: Vishal Vittal
Music: GV Prakash Kumar
Editor: Anthony, Ballu Saluja
Producers: Vishnu Vardhan Induri & Shaailesh R Singh
Direction: AL Vijay
Release Date: Sep 10, 2021

The story begins with the beginning days of Jayalalithaa as an actress. Jayalalithaa does not want to be an actress, but her mother (Bhagyashree) insists so.

Within no time, she gets a chance to play opposite the Tamil film industry’s matinee idol MJR (Arvind Swamy, MGR’s name 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 again meets her and invites her into politics. She learns the ropes fast and becomes a formidable leader facing many adversaries and obstacles. She becomes an MP and impresses the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as well. 

After the death of MJR, the ruling party MLAs with their male chauvinism abuse Jayalalitha (Kangana Ranaut) in the Tamilnadu legislative assembly hall.

She pledges that she would return to the Assembly Hall only after becoming the Chief Minister. Finally she becomes the CM and there ends the film. 

Artistes’ Performances:
Despite not having physical similarities with Jayalalithaa, the award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut portrays the role with conviction. She is believable in the first half, but she also gets it wrong in some sequences. Kangana, on the whole, shines in the role of Jayalalithaa.

Aravind Swamy as MGR is mesmerizing. If we have to give marks, Aravind Swamy walks away with distinction. His is one of the finest performances we have seen lately.

Samuthirakani is also brilliant. Nasser in the role of Karunanidhi is okay. Madhoo as Janaki Ramachandran is convincing.

Technical Excellence:
In period films like these, cinematography, music, and artwork need to be perfect. Cinematographer Vishal Vittal cranks it beautifully.

Ramakrishna and Monika’s production design is splendid. Together they have managed to bring the feel of the bygone era. The music and songs are weak. Dialogue writing is neat.

Kangana Ranaut
Aravind Swamy’s performance
A couple of dramatic scenes

One-side story
Lengthy runtime

“The story we all know, the life story we don’t know.” The trailer of “Thalaivi” proclaimed the above lines raising our expectations on the movie, which is a biopic on J Jayalalithaa, the glamorous actress turned politician.

Jayalalithaa served as chief minister of Tamilnadu six times and was one of the powerful leaders in India in her time. She was called Puruchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader). Her dramatic political story is known to all. But the film does not show beyond what is known to the common public in her political life.

“Thalaivi” is like two parts rolled into one. The first half tackles her career in the film world and her love relationship with MGR. The second half deals with her political steps. 

The story works when the cinematic journey is shown. The scenes between Jayalalithaa and MGR provide some funny moments. It also depicts how deeply she loved him. Also, the hostile relationship between Jayalalitha and MGR’s trusted aide has terrific moments. 

MGR’s aide even burns the film reels when an actress attempts 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 relationship has many interesting sequences. But the big flaw is the makers have shown as if she was solely paired with MGR only. There is hardly any mention of the movies she had done in Telugu, Kannada, and other languages.

When released in Telugu, some scenes relating to her portrayals with NTR and ANR in professional life and the brief alleged relation 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 bland, cinematic. 

By the end of the film, we don’t get to know anything about her life story that we don’t know. In real life, Jayalalithaa had a dramatic rise from a glamour star to a people’s leader, becoming a queen fighting the patriarchal political system. “Thalaivi” brings out 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 issue with the NTR biopic.

In a nutshell, “Thalaivi” gives a glimpse of the superstar heroine and the powerful leader’s life and (love) relationship with MGR. “Thalaivi” is an incomplete biopic with some dramatic parts, some dull sequences, and a lot of convenient scenes.

Bottom line: Half Biopic

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