Thalaivii review: Kangana and Aravind Swamy outperform as Jayalalithaa and MGR

Movie: Thalaivii
Rating: 3/5
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Aravind Swami, Nassar, Bhagyashree, Samuthrikani
Director: AL Vijay
Produced By: Vishnu Induri, Shailesh Singh and Brinda Prasad
Release Date: 10th September 2021

Thalaivii follows the life of actor-turned-politician Jayalalithaa (Kangana Ranaut) and her relationship with the legendary M. G. Ramachandran (Arvind Swami). The film has covered the ups and downs of the former Chief Minister’s film life and her rise to politica power. A biographical account of her life, Thalaivi gets the major events of the titular character’s life bang on and effectively conveys the events that shaped Jayalalithaa into the central power figure of TN politics.

Story: The story chronicles the rise of Jayalalithaa and starts with her entry into the glamour world as a wide-eyed teenager. MGR, brilliantly played by Aravind Swami is impressed by the teenager’s tenacity. The duo famously stars in a number of films in the coming years and this phase showcases Jayalalithaa’s cine journey decently well. The other sub-plot is the political one where certain events force the actress to enter the male-dominated world of politics. What conspires after this makes for an interesting watch.

Performance: Kangana Ranaut has given a performance that was not quite expected. Being a north Indian, she effectively slips into Jayalalithaa’s character and looks quite natural. Her act as a young Jayalalithaa who is vulnerable and learning the tricks of the game is well performed. The film however belongs to Aravind Swami who has immersed himself into MGR’s character. The body language and mannerisms as the former matinee idol and Chief Minister are definitely one of the highlights of the film. Nassar has provided good support as Karunanidhi while the other support cast fits well into the story.

Analysis: One of the biggest strengths of Thalaivi is the casting. AL Vijay has a great team to work with and has utilized Kangana and Aravind Swami effectively. The film tends to get melodramatic in terms of dialogues at times and crispier writing could have made it a more memorable watch. Technically the film is strong and the visuals highlight the golden era of Tamil cinema quite well. While Thalaivii covers the life of Jayalalithaa well enough, her relationship with MGR which was quite multi-faceted and dynamic seems quite unidimensional in the film. However, once the political entry begins, the film gets into top gear and drives the story quite well. The film might not appeal to those who are not that much into retro cinema or politics even though has a story to inspire many

Plus Points:

Kangana Ranaut and Aravind Swami

Cinematography

Runtime

Crisp writing

Minus Points:

Over the top dialogues at points

MGR- Jayalalithaa relationship could have been presented better

Verdict: Thalaivii is a biopic that stays faithful to the life story of the legendary actress. It doesn’t stray far from reality. The technical aspects of the movie are the biggest strength of the film and it’s a great example of what happens when good acting supplements technical prowess. It is definitely one of the topmost performances of Kangana and Aravind Swami’s career and AL Vijay has to be commended for handling the subject well.