Mahanati - Movie Review

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 14:45
Mahanati (2018)
Cast & Crew: 

Film: Mahanati
Cast: Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Akkineni, Vijay Deverakonda, Mohan Babu,  Rajendar Prasad, Malavika Nair, Bhanu Priya, Shalini Pandey, Divya Vani, Srinivas Avasarala, Naga Chaitanya, Malavika Nair and others
Dialogues: Sai Madhav Burra
Music: Mickey J Meyer
Cinematography: Dani Sanchez-Lopez
Editor: Kotagiri Venkateshwara RAo
Production Design: Shivam
Art Director: Avinash
Costumes: Gowrang, Archana
Stylist: Indrakshi
Art Supervision: Thota Tharani
Presents: Vyjayanthi Movies
Producer: Priyanka Dutt
Written and directed by:Nag Ashwin
CBFC Rating: U
Running Time: 176 mins
Release date: May 09, 2018

Revered as greatest actress of all-time in Telugu film industry, Savitri has been a standard gold for great acting for generation of actresses. Her performances are considered as master classes, a guide to follow. No wonder then that the word ‘Mahanati’ has become synonymous with Savitri. Her era began in 1950’s. She ruled the golden period of Telugu cinema (1950-1960), acted with biggest stars of that era – NTR, MGR, ANR, Shivaji Ganeshan and Gemini Ganeshan who later became her husband. She attained stardom equal to that of the greatest male stars. She earned lakhs of rupees, bought numerous buildings, jewellery and lands. She lived like a queen and wanted to lead a happy life with her husband who already had a wife and kids. However, all the money, fame and love was gone in a whiff by 70’s. She saw a companion in the alcohol bottle, succumbed to addiction and she died of ill-ness it caused. She was cheated by her own manager, relatives and neglected by her husband. Her life was well-chronicled by writers and journalists in books.

Director Nag Ashwin choose to tell the story of Savitri the person. He has relied mostly on the life story available in books. However, he has focused more on the drama between Savitri and Gemini Ganeshan, the marital life, less focused on her films. Since everybody knows what a great performer she is, he unveiled the drama of  her life, what a genuine person she was.

The film begins in 1980 when Savitri fell ill due to her alcohol addiction. Then it moves to the story of Madhuravani, the journalist who decides to pen the story of Savitri. As she researches, the life story of Savitri is presented on screen. Savitri’s story begins from her childhood in Vijayawada in 1940’s. The director takes too much of time to reveal her childhood episodes, her early attempts at auditions and acting assignments. The drama becomes thick and interesting only when Gemini Ganeshan enters in her life and she falls in love. Just before the interval it makes us glued to the screens and the rest of the movie is told in an emotional manner.

The film reveals that Savitri all her life craved to know her father, to have glimpse of her father’s face at least. Her addiction to alcohol and her turbulent marital life with Gemini Ganeshan is also explored deeply by the director. Nag Ashwin the director shows his depth and touch in these portions. The final moments reminds us of Orson Welles's classic 'Citizen Kane'

The film completely belongs to Keerthy Suresh. She is magnificent and exceptional as Savitri. This is a performance that she can be proud of for a long time. Her portrayal of Savitiri is pitch perfect. The best performance comes when she finds the cheating of her husband. She is terrific here. As her husband Gemini Ganeshan, Dulquer Salmaan is excellent. He gives best performance.

As journalist, Samantha and her photographer lover Vijay Deverakonda are good. As Chowdhary, Rajendra Prasad is believable. The film has huge ensemble cast to play many roles in Savitri’s life. Mohan Babu as SVR, Naga Chaitanya as ANR, Krish as K V Reddy, Tarun Basker, Avasarala….. some of them have got their roles right and some don’t. Shalini Pandey as Savitri’s childhood buddy has done a good job.

It is tough to recreate the old era. But the production design team has shown excellent work. The Vijaya-Vahini Studios and old-Madras sets are created neatly. They are flashy but believable. The camerawork by Dani is first rate. His colour tones are varied. Music by Micky J Meyer is excellent. The song “Mooga Manasulu” is beautifully filmed on screen.

Dialogues by Sai Madhav are good at some places and theatrical at other places. The production values are exceptionally good.

On the downside, the film has slow pace and lot of melodrama like the movies of bygone era. There are some minor flaws too but all these can be excused as the movie is made with so much passion.

As director, Nag Ashwin has told the story of Savitri in emotional and poignant manner. His direction, his grip on emotions is outstanding. He shines in the emotional sequences. This is a tough film to handle but he has succeeded well. He has proved that he is another exceptional talent Tollywood has right now.

Bottom-line: ‘Mahanati’ is an emotional story of Savitri’s life on screen. The off-screen persona of the actress is unveiled in a poignant manner. Terrific production design, beautiful handling by the director and above all exceptional performance from Keerthy Suresh make this movie a must watch for all the movie lovers. Nag Ashwin pulls off Savitri's biopic brilliantly.

Reviewed by: 
J Gudelli