Let me start off with Kamal Hassan’s Dasavatharam. There’s always that slight grudge towards Kamal for trying to do one better than Navarathri. Besides the breathtaking 9 avatars of Shivaji Ganesan. There’s that awe-inspiring factor of Savithri standing tall against Shivaji Ganesan as the timid lost lover. That’s where my love for Savithri started. It was one film which I watched again and again. So naturally, Kamal’s attempt seemed like a farce. There are days when you feel proud of being a movie Buff. Today was one such day. Mahanati isn’t just a movie. It’s a glorious ode to a screen angel who lived among us as a mere mortal.
Of course, the film only scratches the surface. There’s that feeling of yearning for more. But that’s enough I have seen what I wanted to see. I have heard what I wanted to hear. I am blessed. Like everyone else, I was a little sceptical with Keerthi Suresh playing Savitri. I still can’t help wonder how the role would have been with Nithya Menen the original choice. Part of this comes from my hatred for Keerthi as a performer. But she silences everyone and gives it the best she can. That’s all you have to do to win me over. She puts in so much effort to undo everything that has defined her career so far. There’s a defining song in the second half which has to define everything that Savithri is both as a person and as an actress. Keerthi Suresh is absolutely magnificent in that song. She owns the montages like a seasoned performer. She gets the little things spot on like the posture, the walk or the glow in Savithri’s eyes when she is front of the camera. Even if Keerthi Suresh retires after this I will be happy. I don’t think any role can match up to what she did with Savithri.
She had given her 200 percent knowing fully well that this was a role of a lifetime. I love artists who can do that despite their limitations. Comparisons as to whether someone else could have done it better is a futile exercise. There are all if’s buts and probabilities. She did the best she can. That’s what matters in the end.
What makes it even more special is that she had to compete against the charm of Dulquer Salman. But you can rarely take your eyes off her as she grows on you as Nadigayar Thilagam. Right from the scene where she utters ” Nageswara Rao garu ochara” with childish enthusiasm to the scene where she holds on to alcohol as if her life depends on it she nails it. The melancholy in her eyes as her life falls apart. Utterly delightful.
It isn’t just a life story. It is a travel which needed to be done right. From being overawed by the beauty of celluloid to being the most magnificent actress of her generation Keerthi needed to get the little things right. The change in posture and stance over the course of the film as the timeline shifts is beautifully done.
Dulquer doesn’t actually play Gemini Ganesan. He plays an amplified version of the confused young man. The makers have in fact been kinder to Savithri’s male counterparts. Maybe that’s cinematic liberty. This is also Samantha’s best so far. It is amazing how a good story brings out all the hidden powerhouse performers within. The others act as fillers around the aura called Savitri.
Thank You Nag Ashwin and team for Mahanati. There were a few uncontrollable tears as the film moved towards the climax. I shed some even though I didn’t want to. My mind went back to Malaranthum Malaratha – My father’s favourite song. My mind went back to Navarathri. My mind went back to the actor’s iconic screen presence. She gave so much to this world before she breathed her last. Savithri’s life is a heartwarming reassurance that givers aren’t forgotten.
Special mention to Mickey J Meyers Music which is the soul of the film and the Rajendra Prasad’s humour. To tell such a story with ample doses of humour requires a lot of courage but Nag Ashwin Nails it.
Must watch only on the big screen. Watch and thank me later.
Awesome Machi Ratings: 4.5