Tamil Version of Kangana’s ‘Thalaivi’ Trailer Has More Impact

Kangana Ranaut ably steps into Tamil star and political leader J Jayalalithaa’s shoes in the Thalaivi trailer.

3 min read
A still from <i>Thalaivi.</i>

When you have the writers of Baahubali and The Dirty Picture on board, subtlety is bound to take a backseat. The trailer of Kangana Ranaut-starrer Thalaivi, a biopic of former actor and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, is as overdramatic and loud as you would imagine any popular Indian film to be. The film chronicles Jayalalithaa’s life from being a reluctant Tamil movie star to her storming the corridors of power in state as well as national politics.

Without wasting a minute, the opening lines of the trailer state exactly what the protagonist sets out to achieve. Jayalalithaa wanted to be taken seriously as a politician even though she came from the glamorous world of cinema, she also set out to break into the cosy boys club of Tamil Nadu politics.

The Hindi trailer and the Tamil trailer of Thalaivi are cut differently. While the Tamil version gives a little more emphasis to MGR’s (Arvind Swamy) role, the Hindi one is totally centred around Kangana. But it’s the Tamil trailer that seems more effective, perhaps because the characters seem more at home and convincing speaking their own language.

A still from <i>Thalaivi.</i>
A still from Thalaivi.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

For the Hindi audience, the Jayalalithaa - MGR relationship is summarised in one dialogue. “At times I embrace you like a mother, at times you are like my guru and at times I have kept you in my heart and worshipped you as God,” responds Jaya to MGR’s query as to what he means to her.

Going by the trailer, the turning point in the narrative seems to be the assault on Jayalalithaa in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989. Speaking about the attack on Simi Garewal’s show Jayalalithaa had said, “My MLAs saved me that day. And one of them even tried to pull at my sari. They pulled at my hair. In fact, they tore off some of my hair. They threw chappals at me, big bundles of paper, heavy books at me. That day I left the assembly in tears. But I was also angry. I made a vow that day. I said I will never set foot in this assembly again as long as this man continues to be the Chief Minister. And when I do enter this assembly again, I will enter as Chief Minister. And I fulfilled this vow within two years.”

A still from <i>Thalaivi.</i>
A still from Thalaivi.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

This important juncture in the actor-political leader’s life is shown with a rousing background score in the trailer. While it’s not known if Jayalalithaa invoked The Mahabharata at the time, keeping in tune with the times, Thalaivi invokes The Mahabharata with Kangana declaring, “The way you have humiliated me in the assembly today, is similar to the way in which the Kauravas attacked Draupadi. That battle was won by Draupadi, and I will win this battle for power, because The Mahabharata is also known as Jaya!”

No doubt, Kangana’s screen presence and emotional range packs a punch in the Thalaivi trailer, but will the film live up to expectations? Thalaivi’s production design and cinematography complements the finer aesthetics of the period that the story deals with. From the trailer, it also seems to have done favourably well in its casting choice for Indira Gandhi, when compared to her recent portrayal in a film like Indu Sarkar.

With a film like Iruvar by Mani Ratnam and a series like Queen by Gautham Menon already behind Thalaivi, the comparisons will be inevitable. We’ll have to wait till 23 April to find out if director Vijay’s vision of the Jayalalithaa story finds favour with the masses.

You can watch the trailer of Thalaivi here:

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