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Talaivi: Kangana comes to life as Jaya

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Talaivi: Kangana comes to life as Jaya

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Generally, Talaivi “The trailer is a compelling experience,” says veteran Tamil Nadu political commentator N. Satya Murthy.

Photo: courtesy of Kangana Ranaut/Twitter.

If the creators Talaivimultilingual biopic about Tamil Nadu’s most charismatic politician, Jayalalitaa Jayarama, were waiting for the trailer for the film to be released, they couldn’t have picked a better time.

As the National Assembly election campaign heats up ahead of the April 6 vote, it’s clear that the trailer has the potential to convey the idea of ​​the film – rather, the film as a message – forward when it hits the screen (whether in movie theaters or other venues, of course, decides pandemic).

In Tamil the word Talaivi refers to a female leader, male equivalent Talaivar. One can only guess why director A.L. Vijay and his team did not choose the more popular reference term “Amma” for the name, which is also more deferential than any political leader in the country.

For the kids of the 80s and 90s, Amma may have resonated better than Talaivi, but it doesn’t matter if the director is able to immerse the viewer in his storytelling and visuals.

So yes, it may be difficult for younger viewers and even others to associate Kangana Ranaut with the plump Jayalalitaa she looked like during her political years. Rather, it was her weight gain, associated with a number of physical ailments, that brought Jaya’s film career to an abrupt end in the mid-1970s.

Tirumangalyam (Mangalsutra) (1974) in Tamil was her 100th film and has gone downhill ever since despite her showing some acting ability that her earlier films didn’t have for whatever reason.

But in Jaya’s case, when one door closed, another, more populist and powerful, opened. In her retirement, she caught the attention of her mentor and chief minister, M. G. Ramachandran, who adored her in a way, working together in the film world.

He did not discuss it openly, but was looking for a popular and as powerful personality as himself to lead the party after his time. He knew Jayalalitaa all too well, her intelligence, drive and ambition.

There was no one around him or far from him who could replace Jayalalitaa in the new role he was engraving for her.

The leader is born. And Tamil Nadu’s new and most powerful chief minister, surpassing even the MGR mentor in his sometimes bizarre manner, was in the making.

The trailer may not be the right medium to convey the essence of a feature film, but in this respect the team Talaivi did justice, or apparently did so. Yes, the trailer’s storytelling is effective, but how much that will make the movie worth watching remains to be seen.

However, the dialogues are powerful, both in English and Tamil. Kangana’s facial expression and body language, as well as the voice acting, are all fair.

Whether it’s the scene where she states that after the Mahabharata, where insulting a woman made history, it will now be Jaya, or confronting a North Indian MP who made a sarcastic comment about South Indians speaking good English, it completes the character, from which the real Jaya was made.

This is followed by a scene in which she says to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (apparently in the Rajaya Sabha where MGR had sent her earlier to learn about national politics and make the contacts he lacked): “If you give an ounce of Tamil Nadu, it’s give you back a pound”, voice and body language – all in vintage Jayalalithaa style.

In her youth, Jaya, an opposition member of parliament, had two occasions when she was rudely treated in the state assembly hall. This is one such scene that is shown in the trailer, the house is a mess and hand to hand, and she is trying to defend her honor by holding on to her sari. pallu.

In whichever episode this scene begins, this particular shot overdramatizes the incident at best. For a biopic about a legend that lived until recently, this is too much cinematic liberties, since it can have non-cinematic consequences like that if it is shown in cinemas, which also beats the polls.

What’s striking about the director’s choice is Kangana, the relatively svelte Kangana (four-time National Award winner) for Jayalalitaa, whose later fullness stands out in a recent flashback, as well as the choice of the otherwise plump-looking (albeit not exactly) Arvind Swami portrayed in MGR freak with health and appearance. As such, viewers may have trouble accepting Kangana as Jaya in a cape and all that stuff from the 1990s.

Both Arvind Swami’s voice and appearance also match those of MGR, but there is also the advantage that the current generation of moviegoers, especially the generation under 35, may not have seen him or have real memories of the person.

So Mani Ratnam risked Malayalam megastar Mohanlal as MGR in his Iruvar (1997) and got away with it. Aishwarya Rai was his Jayalalitaa in the film, whose title meant “Two”, but then it was not a film about these two, but about MGR and his friend turned political enemy, Mutuvel Karunanidhi, played even more effectively by Prakash Raj. .

In that case, Aishwarya’s character also ends up in MGR’s time, and he didn’t need to show Jaya making his way through politics and power struggles right from MGR’s funeral. Kangana has to do it and it also seems like the untold story of Aishwarya.

Then there is a more recent web series Queen (2019), directed by equally successful Tamil director Gautam Vasudev Menon.

Being a multi-part series, the powerful and therefore popular side of Jaya’s story did not start from the first frame, not from the first frame. The early parts were seen as exhausting by some viewers of the series, as was Mani Ratnam. Iruvar part of the punch took on the director’s desire/persistence to bring in some real characters (Karunanidhi’s family members) that only served to detract from the main storyline.

When Talaivithe inevitability of the viewer’s temptation to compare the real Jaya to this Kangana from the film could also be caused by the filmmaker’s depiction of close-to-real appearances and appendages (such as the cape), but then that’s also the challenge that comes with making a biopic about a contemporary popular personality.

Generally, Talaivi the trailer is a compelling experience.

Thus, the Tamil moviegoer will be tempted to compare Kangana’s Jayalalithaa to Ramya Krishnan as Jayalalithaa, the latter being an equally strong actor playing a character very similar to that seen as Jaya in Rajnikanth’s superstar film. Padayappa (1999) than to see Talaivi as a standalone commercial film with elements of realism and surrealism, the former added for story and the latter for effect.

N. Satya Murthy, an accomplished journalist, political analyst and writer, is the director of the Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Initiative.

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