'Thalaivii' will be out in the theatres tomorrow (September 10). In this section, we are going to talk about the film's plus and minus points.
The film is a biographical drama that doesn't get into the post-1980s politics of Jayalalithaa. The titular character, played by Kangana Ranaut, starts out as a small-time starlet, only to become a superstar who is preferred by the top stars of her day. Her onscreen combination with MG Ramachandran (Arvind Swami), the Tamil superstar, becomes a rage. Slowly, she takes to politics with the spirit of serving the poor. The film chronicles the challenges Jaya faces in her rise.
Jayalalithaa is perceived by old-timers as a ferocious politician. Kangana Ranaut not only is spot-on in portraying such a real-life personality but also looks charming as well. Her chemistry with Arvind Swami was somehow off in the pre-release promos. In the film, though, the duo gets their looks, attitudes, and demeanors right. Arvind Swami is fascinating as MGR.
Casting a seasoned actor like Nasser as M Karunanidhi was an excellent casting choice. But he is not the main focal point of the screenplay. It is Samuthirakani, who plays RM Veerappan, an ADMK founder-member, who is staged as a primary focus after the main characters. Yesteryear Bollywood actress Bhagyashree (as Jaya's mother) and Madhu Bala (MGR's wife Janaki) fit the bill. Poorna's Sasikala could have been much better in terms of an explosive impact. Thambi Ramaiah, as Jaya's trusted 'bantu', is nice.
GV Prakash Kumar's songs are somewhat dull in Telugu. However, his background score elevates whole scenes. Vishal Vittal's cinematography is not out of the ordinary in the regular scenes. In crucial scenes where a lot of other elements come together to take the aural-visual experience to the next level, he puts in a remarkable job. Anthony takes care of the Editing department.
Unlike most of the AL Vijay movies, this one is not content with superficial emotions and lines. Writer Vijayendra Prasad lets the occasionally formulaic screenplay and at times even the silences do the talking.
In narrating Jaya's love for MGR, the screenplay resorts to some known themes. At the same time, the scenes don't look stale at all. As the trailer for the biopic indicated, it's the love story that is the most important theme for the most part of the drama.
The first half is spent on establishing the MGR-Jaya relationship. The second half dares to sideline the former in favour of the latter.
What is commendable is that story-writer Vijayendra Prasad shows fervent imagination in making Jaya look phenomenal. A lot of unbelievable incidents depicted in the movie did happen for real.
The run-time is proper. Perhaps, the Telugu version could have been trimmed better. Barring a few pre-interval moments and the first 10 minutes of the second half, the drama doesn't drag anywhere.
The election campaign and the romantic pain - both are portrayed without much fuss. The screenplay writers (Prasad and Vijay) don't go for the low-hanging fruit always.
On the flip side, there is too much of Jaya-worshipping, one feels. At times, the story seems to say that even MGR would have been less of a stalwart but for Jaya's charisma. It also takes some time for Kangana's look to feel settling. Samuthirakani's character shouldn't have got too much space.
Above all, Karunanidhi is somewhat of a caricature in the movie.
Watch 'Thalaivii' for its story-telling abilities. Don't expect a remarkable feat on the technical front. The film belongs to its writers and stellar actors.