Thalaivii (2021 /Biopic) (Cinema Release)
Chronicles the life of Jayalalitha beginning 1965, as a teenage actress, till 1991 when she became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time.
Based on the book – Thalaivi by Ajayan Bala
Writer – K V Vijendra Prasad, Rajat Arora
Director- A L Vijay
Cast – Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swamy, Raj Arjun, Nasser, Madhoo, Bhagyashree
I was looking forward to Thalaivii.
Besides the fact that I am a Kangana fan, there’s always a certain charm I find about women centric films. Give to me a powerful women protagonist and I am sold. Add to it the fact that the film is based around an iconic personality like Jayalalitha, with a life story that has all the ideal ingredients of a potboiler aka super successful film career, charismatic charm, association with one of the most revered personalities of cinema, a personal life that zooms up and down the gradients, meteoric rise in politics.
Thalaivii offers all that zing and a broad visioned look into her life that focuses on her early life, her relationship with MGR and her foray into politics. The film ends with the onset of her political career as the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
Honestly speaking, it neither delves deep nor get critical or personal beyond political correctness. But do you think biopics in India made that truthful would see the light of the day? As long as the narrative doesn’t present falsified facts, I think we do take a bit of glorification and lop sided narrative in our stride.
The film opens on a grand note with an assembly scene, a claptrap dialogue and then the story runs in flashback.
The first half kept me engrossed with an interesting peep into her personal life and film career. Characters are introduced with all grandeur, be it Jaya (Kangana) or MGR (Arvind Swamy) or RMV (Raj Arjun) as MGR’s advisor, confidante and producer. Their personal equations and specially the rivalry between Jaya and RMV kept me thoroughly invested.
The second half focuses on her political foray, offers more histrionics and melodrama, but seemed to rely a lot on tropes though it had ample fodder to go razor sharp.
The dialogues are a mix of mediocre and noteworthy. Some of them were impressive though nothing as compared to some of Rajat Arora’s films like Once Upon a Time in Mumbai or Dirty Picture. The music was good in patches. I felt it did enhance the emotional quotient with its back ground score.
The story telling style has the hue of a potboiler thoroughly encashing on the claptrap and adrenaline worthy moments.
The screen play seemed to have flaws but keeps us engaged and entertained. I feel that tighter editing could have done away with some languid scenes, unnecessary parts and resulted in crispier run time.
The cast pitches in immensely where the screenplay lags.
Kangana’s embodiment of a zestful and impulsive young Jaya or her bold and resolute avatar, seemed to have quite a semblance to her real life personality.
Arvind Swamy occupies a large chunk of screen time in the first half. Considering that I saw him last in ‘Bombay’, ages ago, I was quite impressed. He holds fort portraying a charismatic charm, an air of elegance, dilemma of a person in love and as someone who balances responsibilities and matters of the heart.
But I was most impressed by Raj Arjun, an actor I have hugely admired since his outstanding performance in Secret Superstar. The way he adds subtle nuances to his character, the way he changes his speech and speaking style with age is worth an applaud. I wish to see him in more of such chunkier roles.
The film is clearly made for mass entertainment. It tells a larger than life story of an iconic personality in a larger than life portrayal. Keep aside the biases and you would enjoy it.
Score 3 on 5