That J Jayalalitha’s life was tailored for a movie, no can dispute. And now, having watched Kangana Ranaut play this model of Jaya in Thalaivii with a perfectly-judged combination of vulnerability and hauteur, there’s no question that she owns the half. Would a Tamil main woman, extra conversant with the language and the physique language, have accomplished a greater job? The question is now moot.
This is an actor on the prime of her recreation, enjoying a former actor who was as soon as prime of her recreation: certainly one of the pleasures of this biopic verging on hagiography (are there another varieties in Bollywood?) is to see the meta streaks in it.
Kangana inhabits this very advanced character like pores and skin in Thalaivii, proper from the time Jaya is a budding actress, coat-trailing the mighty MGR (Arvind Swamy), to her meteoric rise in the film business, and her transition, reluctant at first, and then getting steadier and surer, into an formidable, give-no-quarters politician.
Without stepping into whether or not the occasions as proven in the film had been devoted to the happenings in actual life, the film manages to present us a snapshot view of the Tamil Nadu politics of the period (MGR was chief minister from 1977-87; his mad reputation as a movie idol buoying his ascent in politics, a really Tamil-and-Telugu phenomenon). MGR by no means hid the undeniable fact that Jayalalitha was his protege, and their closeness was at all times a sore level amongst his partymen: in the film, it’s epitomised by MGR loyalist RMV (Raj Arjun) who turns into nearly comically one-note in the manner he retains evident at the girl who takes away his beloved chief’s consideration from the place it must be.
There’s an interlude which takes Jaya into the rarefied confines of Parliament, the place she makes a rousing speech, grabbing the consideration of then PM Indira Gandhi (Flora Jacob, a startling look-alike). It was a time when Congress beneath Mrs G was in search of alliances in the South, and Jayalalitha, as MGR’s chosen spokie was doing job of placing his case ahead, in addition to neatly advancing her personal career: for somebody who claimed to have hated politics, she did a outstanding job of getting quickly forward, sweeping apart her rivals.
Indira Gandhi’s assassination is a blip in the film’s plot; Rajiv’s assassination takes a few minutes longer. And immediately it reveals how the southern states had been so distant from faraway New Delhi, in the nearly phlegmatic manner in the information is absorbed by their allies. What is cataclysmic, and the film reveals this brilliantly, is the demise of MGR: the swelling crowds, the chest-beaters and wailers make this public mourning a performative act. For those that bear in mind, Jayalalitha was pushed and shoved and not let near MGR’s physique; we see Kangana, distraught, alone, and then we see her resolve, to not let it get her down, to struggle, and to forge forward.
This may effectively be one other meta hyperlink. For a girl in politics, and a girl in film (each of whom are in public life, as Jaya factors out) attending to the prime is a fraught train, and you may’t assist considering of the journey of this actor enjoying that actor, who got here in from the outdoors and conquered.
For a film that revolves round its main woman, it does give the others its due: Arvind Swamy as MGR is terrific, that razor skinny moustache, the headgear, the scarf draped round his shoulders, and the manner he leaps bulkily from one spot to a different on set is so paying homage to the man he performs. Bhagyashree (sure, the Maine Pyar Kiya woman) as Jaya’s mom, is protecting of her daughter but conscious that there are compromises to be made if a girl has to make a mark on this all-male world. And Nassar as Karunanidhi provides to the ensemble.
Post-interval, the film dips. From the on-screen, off-screen shenanigans, rather more attention-grabbing in the manner they present the type of the song-and-dances, the brassiness of the costumes, it turns into political jousting. The background music blares continually as the film cherry picks occasions so as to add to the display screen Jaya’s lustre. There are too many dialogues that sound like thunderous speeches, and far too many incidents the place Jaya comes throughout as too noble, too brave, a loving girl who’s everybody’s beloved Amma.
But searching for actuality checks in desi biopics is like non-existing needles and haystacks: in a climactic flourish that makes up for all the uncritical adoration of its chief topic, although, there’s this – as Jaya tries out her chief minister’s chair for measurement, her partymen file in, and as they demur when she asks them to take a seat, she orders the chairs to be taken out. Now she has them the place she desires them: the winner takes all of it. Kangana aces that look. And the film.
Thalaivii movie cast: Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swamy, Raj Arjun, Nassar, Bhagyashree
Thalaivii movie director: AL Vijay
Thalaivii movie ranking: 3 stars