Director- Abhijit Panse

Writer-Arvind Jagtap, Manoj Yadav, Abhijit Panse

Cast- Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amrita Rao

Is a biopic based on the life of Shiv Sena founder Bal Keshav Thackeray who was also known as BalaSaheb.

And just as the man in question, the film is absolutely bold, unapologetic and in-your-face.

Let me put in a disclaimer that my views on the film are absolutely as a film buff and shouldn’t seem to agree or disagree or tilt towards any ideology.

As much as its the season of controversial films these days , it’s also a trend to see films through political glasses. If people could find even Manikarnika promoting a certain ideology, I wonder what’s their take on this one !

The story is written by Sanjay Raut (who apart from being a producer is also a Rajya Sabha member of Shiv Sena)and directed by Abhijit Panse.

It traces Balasaheb ‘s life from the time when he was a cartoonist working for a publication. As a man with fierce line of thought, he wouldn’t compromise with what he wanted to say and chose to start his own publication. His hardline stance of “ Maharashtra for Marathi Manus first “ earned him lot of popularity and mass following which eventually catapulted into the mammoth organisation called Shiv Sena.

It was intriguing to see his journey wherein he attracted and commanded people like a pied piper with unflinching faith and hero worship. He thrived on his capability to influence and polarise.

The trailers had instilled a lot of curiosity and it was expected as in case of most biopics that the negatives of the protagonist will be camouflaged,specially considering that the makers were close confidantes of Sena.

The most surprising and interesting aspect of the film is that the writer makes no attempt at mollycoddling.

He clearly and boldly portrays BalaSaheb’s ideologies that are quite controversial to say the least.. like his belief in use of violence and force, his views on religion and his preference for autocracy instead of democracy.

The movie opens with Balasaheb’s courtroom appearance in Babri Masjid demolition case and then runs in flash back. Most of his testimony, his views and his speeches were very instigatory and devisive. His dialogues and replies made for a very intriguing watch.

Most of the major controversial events like a seemingly orchestrated murderous attack on a rival and his role in instigating or controlling violence during riots have been shown.

The fact that he held a tight and autocratic control and could hold the state to ransom through his network of Shivsainiks is very evident.

I didn’t see the bold portrayal as glorification of anything because I believe that we, as audience would still have our our own views. If I don’t agree with the violence and hooliganism that they indulged in, any kind of portrayal will not convince me otherwise.

Apart from the fact that the central character was a very interesting personality, the fact that we had Nawazuddin playing the character was an ace up the makers sleeve. Nawaz was very convincing in his sharp portrayal of the sharp man and kept us glued to the screen.

Amrita Rao plays his quiet and supportive wife who stands by him like a pillar. She played her subdued part well.

Other important political characters like Indira Gandhi , Morarji Desai , Sharad Pawar, George Fernandes etc have been portrayed by resembling actors well and do not seem like foolish caricatures as in case of Accidental Prime Minister .

Overall, I found the movie very engaging. Clearly devoid of any “for or against “stance, the story was as fascinating and bold as the man was.

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