Nawazuddin Siddiqui skillfully mounts the life of India’s most celebrated and controversial politico
The pen is mightier than the sword. A proverb that I’ve lived and breathed throughout childhood, is once again beautifully re-instated in ‘Thackeray’, through a telling introductory scene. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Bal Keshav Thackeray, fondly dubbed as Balasaheb, strikes out two words from the name of the newspaper, he has just rendered his resignation to, as he sets himself ‘Free’ from letting his truth be suppressed. A takeaway for the voices and verses that represent free thought. Genius.
The rest of the film traces the journey of the humble cub who evolved to be the growling tiger, nobody could calm. Neither his worst political detractors nor his family dentist could dare to silence him. ‘Thackeray’ as a film commits to everything that has been said, written and spoken about the late respected leader of the Marathi Manoos. Cynics are likely to declare it as a Wikipedia account. But amidst all the judgements and accusations that stand tall in the way, the attempt is to make one understand the ideology or the circumstances that led to it.
The story penned and produced by Sanjay Raut sticks true to the narrative and does not really bother in exploiting creative liberties. Which I felt was genuinely refreshing. The screenplay by director Abhijit Panse is nicely divided into chapters, hence it keeps the viewers invested. The dialogues by Arvind Jagtap and Manoj Yadav stay true to the humour and wit that Balasaheb was known for. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee and production designer Sandeep Sharad Ravade lend authenticity with the black-and-white, sepia and contemporary settings. The big upsets lie in the editing by Ashish Mhatre and Apurva Motiwale Sahai as the running length of the film is excruciating at over two hours and thirty minutes. Even the background music by Amar Mohile isn’t particularly innovative.
But, ‘Thackeray’ is entirely and solely watchable for the sheer brilliance of Nawazuddin. Is there anyone or anything that the actor cannot play? Amrita Rao as Meenatai Thackeray has precious little to do but she makes for a pleasant watch. Actors playing Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi are suitably cast.
Irrespective of which side do you pick, if understanding a personality’s thought is what you seek, then ‘Thackeray’ is a competent watch.