Mahanati exemplifies benefits of championing good content, paving the way for other Tollywood biopics
Very few films in recent times manage to have an effect on you once the curtain falls. Hours after watching Mahanati, the impact remains.
The biopic genre has finally taken over Tollywood and the industry couldn't have asked for a better start than Mahanati. Savitri's biopic not only gives the genre a new lease but also brings in the much needed shift in content for Telugu cinema.
Now, Tollywood has seen quite a few movies in the recent past like Awe, Pelli Choopulu and Arjun Reddy, that have experimented with narrative style and content. These films have been appreciated for moving away from the cliche that the industry has become. However the films to storm the box office have been star-studded projects, like Bharat Ane Nenu and Rangasthalam.
This is one of the reasons why Mahanati is a pleasant surprise. While the credit for the film's brilliant story definitely goes to the inspiring life of Savitri, to be able to translate that into good and pure cinema, the way Nag Ashwin did, is rare and worth a mention. Right from the casting to the screenplay, from the music to the comic timing, Mahanati is a reminder of what good content can do to a film.
Though Keerthy Suresh dominates the screen for the most part, Mahanati is as much about its supporting cast. Be it Samantha's role as a stammering journalist, Dulquer Salman's charming portrayal of Gemini Ganesan and Rajendra Prasad's impeccable humor — everyone fit the bill. Nag Ashwin takes the story of an inspiring actress and presents it in the manner it's supposed to be: nothing less or nothing more. Savitri's life was also reportedly more tragic than what we witness in the film and her relationship with Gemini Ganesan was more strained than showcased in the film. But the director sticks to the purpose of Mahanati: not to sensationalise Savitri's life.
The best part of Mahanati is the fact that the film is not over-dramatised.
For many cinema goers Mahanati is an experience of sorts. There is nothing about Savitri we haven't heard or probably even seen in the film. For an actress who has worked in over 300 films, Mahanati is a heart warming ode. While Ashwin projects the actress' rise and fall, he also presents to us her chaotically beautiful personal life. Very few films in recent times manage to have an effect on you once the curtain falls. And hours after watching this biopic, the impact remains. We are still hymning those songs, coping from the tears and basking in the actress' journey.
For a genre that hasn't been experimented much before, Mahanati is a fine example for the many biopics to come. Tollywood will see a couple of big ticket biopics soon: The NTR biopic; 1945, in which Rana Daggubati plays Subhash Chandra Bose; Yatra, based on late CM Rajasekhara Reddy; and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, starring Chiranjeevi.
However, it's only towards the end of Mahanati that we understand how well two women — Keerthy and Samantha — pioneer the film. Both actresses have finally gotten their due in an industry dominated by male actors.
Mahanati as a whole does more than just entertainment for the audience: it's a classic example of what a good script can do to a film. It's hard not to biased towards such a film.
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