Nadigayar Thilagam @ Mahanati is epic. There are movies that make money by making the audience feel guilty, by invoking lingustic pride, communal pride, vulgar scenes in the name of comedy, We can find such movies frequently. But on rare occasions, some movies, which believes completely on its quality, gets released too. This is one such movie. This is one such movie which believes in the performance of the actors and hardwork of the technicians.
You will feel like you are living in 1940s and 80s while watching this movie. Credit goes to art director.There is a reference to Potti SriRamalu(first separatist in this nation), my favorite soft drink Gold Spot too finds a place :-) . The scene where Rajendra Prasad and Keerthy visits Madras, was shot well. You can see rickshaws, trams and more importantly, a road side bookseller. Just googled out(missed the title card) to find the art director name of Mahanati and it is Shivam Rao. It needs to be mentioned, as he deserves lot of respect.
Making a biopic is always a challenging task. Making a 3 hour movie is a huge risk nowadays.If a biopic, which runs for 3 hours, doesn't bore you, it's of superior quality. Finding the right cast is the first step while making a biopic. The director Nag Ashwin has done exceedingly well in casting especially, Keerthy Suresh, Dulquar and Mohan Babu (S V Rangarao character).
Keerthy Suresh's performance as Savitri is one of the best in the history of Indian cinema. Sometimes actors copy mannerisms from others, yet end up as laughing stock. Copying someone's mannerisms is one thing. But, while acting as Savitri, it is important to ensure that people remember Savitri. Keerthy is young, but her expressions, body language, appearance everything closely resembled Savitri. The Maya Bazar scene was the highlight of Mahanati. Just compare it with Savitri's performance. You will feel no difference. Also Missamma. Keerthy has lived as Savitri. Never thought she is such a talented actress. I liked her for her girl next door looks and casual acting in Rajni Murugan. But never thought she would pull of such a heavy role with ease.
Dulquer as Gemini Ganesan has equally done well. His mannerisms, costumes, etc brings Gemini Ganesan in front of our eyes. His expressions, especially eyes and his smile were exactly like Gemini. Dulquer's manly voice and physique with Keerthy makes them a very good pair onscreen. Gemini had his own share of commercial super hits. When MGR and Sivaji were dominating the industry, Gemini was the director's hero then and he delivered some stunning performances and commercial blockbusters then. They could have focused on this part too. But this being a biopic of Savitri, its understandable that the director has concentrated more on Savitri than Gemini.
Naga Chaitanya as Akkineni Nageswara Rao was again perfect. It was like watching Devadasu in big screen. Makeup artists definitely played a vital role in making Mahanati an epic. I don't have much to write about Samantha or Vijay Deverekonda.
The life of a cinema actress is not as simple as we think. Once they attain fame and popularity, there will be people to cheat them. It will be very difficult to find loyal people around them. Everyone would try to exploit them as per their needs. In one scene, Keerthy would slap a man for touching a girl, who was seeking a chance to act in cinema. They enter the industry at a very young age, that they would belive anyone who pretends to be kind and talks politely. Unfortunately, the industry is still male dominated and people only remember the heroes even after decades and not the heroines. In one scene Prakash Raj would say, there are lot of producers waiting for MGR, Sivaji, Nageswara Rao etc and equal number of producers waiting Savitri's call sheet. Shows to what kind of star she was.
When the income tax officials raids her house and seize the money and gold, they would ask her to sign in her lot of documents. While leaving, one official would say 'mam everyone in my family is your fan, please give me your autograph' and you can notice a sarcastic smile on Keerthy's face. Whatever trouble an actress goes through in her personal life, she is still a star and there will always be people curious to get close to her.
Music director of the movie is Mickey J Meyer. I haven't heard about him before this movie. But he has to be appreciated for his meaningful background score. His music reminded us of the movies that came in 1950s,60s,80s etc. Also, we should appreciate the Mahanati team for retaining the original version of old songs like 'Vaaraayo Vennilaave' instead of doing something in the name of remix.
That's it. As I mentioned in the beginning, Nadigayar Thilagam or Mahanati is an epic. For the artistic brilliance itself, we can watch this movie multiple times in theater. Do not leave the theater without watching the end credits.