Bal Keshav Thackeray – The name is more than enough to make many Indian nationalists bow their heads in reverence and the left liberal intelligentsia cower in fear. From a cartoonist at the Free Press Journal, to becoming one of the most powerful figures in Indian politics, Bal Thackeray had lived it all. Abhijit Panse’s ‘Thackeray’ brings forth the tumultuous journey of this leader on silver screen, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role.
Here’s my review of the movie:
‘Thackeray’ Movie Review – What’s Good:
Based on the life of Bal Keshav Thackeray, ‘Thackeray’ hits a right note when it comes to the most basic tenet of making a biopic: Being unapologetic in the portrayal of the principal character. This was actually the quality that was missing in most of the previous biopics, be it ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, or ‘Sanju’, where the protagonists were either too noble or were whitewashed beyond acceptable levels.
Good or bad, positive or negative, almost every major facet associated with Bal Thackeray’s life has been shown in this movie, and for this reason alone, director, as well as screenwriter of this film Abhijeet Panse deserves his due accolades. The background score, composed by Amar Mohile, who was behind the much talked about background score of ‘Sarkar’, captivates you and keeps you at the edge of the seats.
Apart from keeping the movie base strong, another plus point of this movie, like ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, is keeping the names of the movie characters absolutely real. From the people who were behind the Shiv Sena, to even the bigwigs of Congress, none have been fictionalized.
‘Thackeray’ Movie Review – What’s Awesome:
In Thackeray, it is Nawazuddin all the way. The actor, who is lauded by many for his effortless portrayal, has totally lived the charismatic personality of the Balasaheb Thackeray. He has done full justice to this role, as he captured every nuance of the personality of the Shiv Sena supremo. From his acerbic cartoons, to his unapologetic speeches, Nawazuddin has paid a fitting tribute to the persona of Balasaheb Thackeray.
Equally impressive is the screenplay. Given that Thackeray is a almost a song less drama, it would’ve been tough to engage the typical Indian audience. However, Abhijeet Panse has not let the audience deviate even an inch from the scene. The stance of Nawazuddin, especially in the scenes involving about Babri Masjid, are bound to make the masses chuckle and cheer for him.
Amrita Rao, who has made a comeback after years, has done justice to her role as Meena Tai, Balasaheb’s wife. Prakash Belawadi also impresses in a brief cameo as the quirky leader George Fernandes, while Rajesh Khera brings out the grey shades of the controversial figure that Moraji Desai had been.
‘Thackeray’ Movie Review – What was missing?
However, for all the charisma of Nawazuddin, the film was a compelling drama that fell short of being a masterpiece. Tacky editing, awkward interjections, and incomplete depictions denied the status of a flawless masterpiece of Thackeray.
There were several facets to Thackeray’s life that were not dealt in the correct way, be it his stance on the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, or his fight against the communists, who had almost taken Mumbai as their hostage. There were subtle, though suppressed hints, of the narrative slightly tilting in the favor of the Congress, given the warmth that Indira Gandhi and Vasant Rao Naik showed to the Hindu Hriday Samrat in this movie.
The Krishna Desai episode, where the revolutionary turned communist goon, who also happened to be the MLA in Maharashtra assembly before being slayed by unidentified assailants in the early 70s, was also not given due attention. Even the courtroom scenes were not connected properly, and the prosecution lawyer was given a cartoonish treatment.
Had it not been for such chinks in the armor, Abhijeet Panse’s ‘Thackeray’ could’ve been a savage tale of the maverick nationalist Balasaheb, who not only saved Maharashtra from the scourge of communism, but also gave the Sanatan community a due chance to hold their heads high. You cannot afford to miss ‘Thackeray’, even if just for Nawazuddin’s brilliance. I’d go with 3/5 stars.
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