Star Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Arvind Swami, Nassar, Bhagyashree, Raj Arjun, Poorna
Director: A. L. Vijay
Runtime: 153 minutes
What’s Good: A flourishing acting department
What’s Bad: A flourishing acting department getting choked by the limitations of what’s shown & what’s skipped
Loo Break: It’s 150 minutes & if you make it quick you’ll be back on the same Rajat Arora dialogue you left
Watch or Not?: Want to watch Kangana Ranaut’s good acting? Watch this. Want to watch Kangana Ranaut’s good acting backed by a good story? Watch Queen!
The story depicts the journey of J. Jayalalithaa (played by Kangana Ranaut), from making a mark as a no-nonsense actress to the most important person for millions in her entire state. Makers hint they’re taking a controversial route when they start the film with the scene of Jayalalithaa (fondly known as Amma to many) getting manhandled in the parliament, but it’s all ‘ruko zara, sabar karo’ moment since then.
It all proceeds with the transformation of turning Jayalalithaa into Amma. Despite the stance of ‘I hate politics’ Jaya gets into it solely to support her reel-life hero M. G. Ramachandran aka MGR (Arvind Swami). The remaining story is all about her rise and shine to be Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister. How does all of this reflect her relationship with MGR? Will she be able to manage together & much more such questions are answered in the second half.
Thalaivii Movie Review: Script Analysis
I just wish one day I wake up to Bollywood finally making worthy biopics, hence the review ends here because I’m sleeping as today’s not that day. Such an epic tale of a legendary person is yet again narrowed down to be a predictable puzzle made by some extremely convenient pieces.
The more you watch what you’re been served by K. V. Vijayendra Prasad’s story, the more you think of the things which never come to your plate. It ends at a point that restricts the story to cover a plethora of interesting things like her much-controversial jail term, her real rise & fall in the world of politics, her bond with Sasikala, facing MGR’s widow V. N. Janaki.
Even in its current version, Thalaivii is a compilation of few heroic sequences but they aren’t enough to hold your intrigue. Vishal Vittal’s camerawork does boost the already designed grandiose by K. V. Vijayendra Prasad‘s screenplay. Did this film even require Rajat Arora’s soul-deafening dialogues? I thought Anthony & Ballu Saluja’s editing would get the majority of the blame for the mess but Arora’s dialogues took me back to ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’, the sequel and trust me it’s not a good place to be at.
The first half is dedicated to the actress in Jayalalithaa, second is for the politician in her but none of them justifies the 150-minute runtime. I had no problem with the length (that’s what she said) being a ‘journey’ story, the problem starts when you start expecting it not to follow the same B-town biopics’ route.
Thalaivii Movie Review: Star Performance
It shows why Kangana Ranaut was an ultimate choice for this one when certain scenes force you to believe it’s her biopic. She’s so natural on-screen, you won’t believe it if she’s playing some other character. Through a commendable change in accents, looks, and physical attributes of a single character, this is a one Kan(gana) show.
Arvind Swami as MGR gets the most difficult job of bottling in the charm, aura of yet another legendary artist in front of a person on whom the film is based. Though dependent a lot on Jayalalithaa’s character, Arvind helps MGR’s character to find his own ground. Nassar as Karunanidhi is a spot-on casting decision but wasted materially.
Bhagyashree looks stunning as Jayalalithaa’s mother nailing her ‘tell me you’re an actress without telling me you’re an actress’ role. Raj Arjun, the surprise package of Secret Superstar still holds the secret to how to stand out amid brilliant performances. He shines bright as MGR’s ‘cold-hearted lieutenant’ R. M. Veerappan. Poorna as Sasikala gets no scope due to her limited screen presence.
Thalaivii Movie Review: Direction, Music
A. L. Vijay jumps into a dangerous space with this one giving a taste of ‘what it could’ve been’ with a stronger story/dialogues/screenplay. The trait of a looking like ‘grand’ film remains throughout courtesy of Vijay’s smooth direction.
None of G. V. Prakash Kumar’s songs makes you want to listen to it for a second time outside the film. He earns full marks in the ‘background score’ department delivering some polished pieces.
Thalaivii Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, Thalaivii has a lot of good things going in its favour but it remains half-baked only for the reason of ‘what it could’ve been?’.
Two and a half stars!
Thalaivii releases on 10 September 2021.
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If you’re not into political-dramas, you can check out our Chehre Movie Review to see its hits and misses.