There is a certain notion associated with Biopics. The genre is often accused of glorifying the personalities and often whitewashing their images in the public eye. Let us admit it, it is extremely tricky for the filmmakers to have a balanced narrative of the individuals on whom they choose to tell the story on, considering the number of stakeholders in play. And so the easiest way out is for the filmmakers to opt for a safe path that would tread the path of the individuals thereby steering clear of any controversies. Films like Sanju for one did just that and stayed way off some of the tricky situations in the life of the superstar. Having saud that there have been certain biopics which have a balanced approach as well. One of my favorite ones include that of Diego Maradona. In a docu-style narrative, it revealed some of the most uncomfortable events in the legend’s career. And so when a biopic was being made on the prolific leader Jayalalithaa, I was curious to know which path it would tread. Thalaivii as the film was called had had a theatrical release a couple of weeks back but due to the theatres closed in the state, I had to wait for its OTT release. Well finally, the film is out on Netflix, does it manage to impress, lets find out. And before I start, let me put the word out that I may or may not agree with the point of view of an artist politically or otherwise but once a piece of art is out there to be consumed, I would keep all my personal opinions aside and review it just as it is served. So this is an unbiased review. Now, lets go for it!
Story & Screenplay
Thalaivii is the biopic on the prolific personality of the supreme leader Jayalalitha as it traces her path from being a young actor to a top politician. The story is quite good and it gave me an oppportunity to witness the rise of a powerful individual. The screenplay is pretty well penned too. While it does follow a routine template of sorts, it does manage to keep you interested and engaged throughout. Right from the beginning, you get a whiff of the rebellious petsinality which the protagonist possesses, not getting intimidated by even a reigning superstar. What follows is a love story which is truely a fascinating watch. The dynamics of Amma’s relationship with MGR might have been a thorny subject to tackle but the writers do well to keep things simple here. Once the plunge is taken towards the politics around the halfway mark, the film also gathers pace. However, here I do wish that they had gone a bit deeper into some situations which would have added much depth. Also some of the other actors, for example MGR’s wife or even Shashikala could have been explored a bit more which would have added an additional layer of drama to the biopic. However, the rise shown of the protagonist(even in her fleeting moments with the then PM Indira Gandhi) is truely fascinating amd inspirational in what turns out to be an engaging screenplay through and through.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are a tad overdramatic but still impactful. The music is good and blends well with the drama, the BGM is good too. I had an issue with the editing though. There were abrupt cuts to the scenes that stuck out like a sore thumb. Director Vijay has done a pretty satisfying job. It would have been an even better job had he ironed out some of the flaws in the screenplay, but a good job nevertheless.
The performances are pretty good. Nasser is impressive as Karunanidhi although slightly dramatic in parts. Madhoo as MGR’s wife is good in an underwritten part. Raj Arjun as Verappan is excellent here. Quite an underrated actor, he does a brilliant job here being in control throughout. It was Arvind Swami as MGR who was absolutely brilliant and one of the highlights of the films other than Kangana. Just a measured character portrayal. And it is Kangana yet again who scores as Thalaivi Jaya. You may disagree with her opinions but when it comes to acting, there are only few who come close to her. She is magnificent and commands your attention throughout. Excellent job there!
Thalaivii is an engaging Biopic of a supreme leader that is well worth your time. Available on Netflix.