Kangana Ranaut could not hold the film together. She looks scattered, especially after the death of MGR, which is not 'Amma' like. Jayalalitha, who is fondly remembered as Amma (mother), on the other hand, was known for her power and courage. She could rule the entire state on her own, such was her persona. The only good thing, or rather tolerable, is the chemistry between Kangana and Aravind Swami.
Set in the 1980s, Thalaivii follows the journey of the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu's J. Jayalalithaa, popularly addressed as 'Amma', from her time in cinema to one of the popular and powerful politicians.
The film Thalaivii sets a fine example of a biopic gone wrong. Kangana Ranaut seems to have tried hard but she was unable to shoulder the film all by herself as J. Jayalalithaa. Even if one can begin to accept her as the former CM, Kangana barely does justice to her character and personality.
Every actor in the film overacts. Even though the film is set in the 1980s, it gets over the top and irritating. At times, Kangana's sultry costumes also make us wonder whether the film should have been released by the early 2000s since that is when it might have been accepted.
With every scene, comes background music that is so old-school that it hurts your ears. The constant use of music in the form of background sound or songs takes down the film's value drastically. There is actually no scene in the film that makes you jump off your seat and take notice. Even if there is a good scene, the music and overdramatization ruin the shot.
The only good thing in the film is Kangana and Aravind Swami's chemistry. Kangana's romantic dialogue, however, gets nauseating soon as she calls MJR her mom, dad and teacher.
Arvind as the actor-politician is commendable. He takes you by surprise and awes you in a few scenes, especially those with Jaya.
Kangana, on the other hand, overacts at every opportunity she gets. Her intense scenes, on the other hand, are surreal. Some of her shots appear to pierce through your soul. The love she has for MJR is visible through a dinner scene at her house. However, when you see a hint of good acting, be sure the next scene will ruin it. It goes on to the extent that she is manhandled and as the scene takes place, she absurdly narrates about being treated like Draupadi in Mahabharata.
The film gets monotonous after a point. It constantly switches between acting, politics and the love story between Jaya and MJR. Apart from that, the film makes Krishna's references when talking about love and medu vada in a petty fight. The latter reference actually gets pretty nasty.
Raj Arjun as the villainous assistant to MGR is powerful. His constant face-offs with 'Jaya' or Kangana Ranaut is something to look forward to. And of course, he shines as an actor much more than Kangana.
Bhagyashree, who makes her comeback is adorable as Jaya's mother. However, her acting isn't up to the mark. Madhoo as MJR's wife Janki, on the other hand, gives her most powerful performance in her last scene with MJR. Although the scene isn't a 'wow', it is good according to the movie's standards.
Nassar tries to be impactful but ends up being boring and dramatic. He is one of the lead villains in the movie who comes as too little, too late.
The film has the characters of L.K. Advani, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and others. L.K. Advani is stereotypical with the accent. On the other hand, seeing a new face as Indira Gandhi after Lara Dutta perfected the look, isn't as appealing. She has no speech which seems to have worked in her favour.
The lighting wasn't the focus of the film. An extremely important scene is shot in such a dark space that it gets difficult to figure what is happening. However, the makers did a good job with the locations. They picked out some of the most beautiful places while shooting in Hyderabad, which only adds to the magic that is MJR and Jaya, the real-life and not reel-life.
Thalaivii sinks faster than expected soon after MJR's inevitable death. Kangana as Jaya cannot hold the film for long, no matter how hard she tries to. Everything after the scene is chaotic and rushed. Even though Kangana might have tried to spread a message of women empowerment by showing how badly they were treated during the era, the drama around those scenes can hardly be overlooked. The most absurd point is when Jaya gets plump out of the blue. While she is seen as slim, trying to walk on her own in one scene, right in the next, she is seen standing with the bandage on her neck, a plump face and giving out orders to people.
While it was already getting hard to stay focused on anything after the monotonous and absurd scenes, AL Vijay and Kangana Ranaut had another surprise in store for the audience. The film ends on a random note, where Kangana practically threatens people to call her Amma or... if that is how Vijay wanted people to remember amma. He certainly has disappointed many fans of the former CM, who remember her as a loving personality.
Avoid Thalaivii if you want to retain good memories of J. Jayalalithaa. The only reason to watch this film is Arvind Swami, without who, even Kangana Ranaut cannot stand out in the film.