Nadigaiyar Thilagam/ Mahanati review: Stopping just short of greatness

Nadigaiyar Thilagam/ Mahanati review: Stopping just short of greatness

Dulquer Salman and Keerthy Suresh in Nadigaiyar Thilagam

Nadigaiyar Thilagam - Mahanati

Tamil/Telugu (U)

Cast: Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salman

Director: Nag Ashwin

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Everyone seems to want biopics to be “factual” as opposed to “fictional”, and given that the factual, mostly, is less interesting that the fictional, it almost seems as though people want to get bored!

Nadigaiyar Thilagam or Mahanati, even as it braves to call itself a “biopic”, takes liberties biopics shouldn’t and thank god for that!

The movie starts off as a South Indian version of Citizen Kane. Savitri (Keerthy Suresh), a much respected public figure of yesteryear, is critically ill and she has said something in her last letter that the press is convinced holds a clue to something crucial in her life.

We then flashback into her past. The first sequence, where the film tries to highlight Savitri’s acting prowess by showing she could jerk exactly two tears from her left eye while the right eye “showed love” makes you wish someone whacked the scriptwriter on the head.

The humour is mostly well done. The filmmakers, however, thought if they appended jokes with “joke sounds”, they would be funnier. It’s 2018 and films must seriously stop using them.

The film is a story of innocence, and the impossibility of innocence and trustfulness without an impending downfall. For this reason, it comes across as very pessimistic.

The filmmakers, maybe for commercial reasons, have desperately attempted to dilute the pessimism with the message that Savitri will be remembered and her life is one to emulate. This, unfortunately, ruins the film. It’s the equivalent of what the funny sounds did to the jokes.

Instead of making a powerful statement on innocence, the filmmaker takes the easy route to pay yet another homage to Savitri, as if making the movie wasn’t enough.

The movie is definitely engaging. Keerthy is more than acceptable as Savitri, and Dulquer Salman as Gemini Ganeshan is brilliant. The camera work and the sets are as good as his performance, although one cannot help but feel that this could have been a great movie if it was better crafted.