Nag Ashwin’s Mahanati (2018) Movie Review

Mahanati Movie Review
Movie Review: Mahanati
Starcast: Keerthy Suresh, Samantha Akkineni, Dulquer Salmaan, Vijay Devarakonda, Rajendra Prasad, Bhanupriya, Shalini Pandey, Mohanbabu & Tanikella Bharini.
Directed by Nag Ashwin
Dialogues Written by Sai Madhav Burra
Music Composed by Mickey J Meyer
Cinematography by Dani Sanchez Lopez
Edited by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao

Censor Certificate: U & Runtime: 176 Minutes

“Choopulu Kalasina Subhavela .. enduku neeki pravasamu .. enduku neeki kalavaramu…” 

A story needs to have three elements, heart, soul and drive. Heart is the part that pumps it new blood while the soul is the part that defines the story and drive is the path that will determine whether a viewer will love it or not. But when you have to tell the history of a person, how will you divide it into heart, soul, and drive? How will you hook the audience and tell them, where to look for and drive them on that path without de-railing? Making a biopic is definitely a herculean task but can you make a sad story, an inspirational saga? Filmmaker, Nag Ashwin had many answers to these questions.  He surprised me with his penchant to see the truth with Anthony and his maturity to understand a typical person like Gemini Ganeshan. He showed utmost care in protecting the image of Savitri almost mirroring her inner conflict without letting us judge her. In few words, if Savitri decided her destiny, Nag Ashwin gave it a nice celluloid tributeMahanati Movie Review. 

“Nee kosame ne jeevinchunadi … Ee virahamu lo ee neerasa lo ..”

Does Savitri need a tribute?

Did she live her life to the fullest by 40’s?

Why is she still a remembered in the first place?

It was never easy for women to come out and stand up for their choices as independent and career-oriented adults in 1950‘s. It is still a big problem but during those days it was unimaginably difficult. During such time, Savitri, a person who always wanted the cosmos to deliver her love, she deserved, found a career that she was never completely interested in, starting with, but then a promise of love drove her to the heights and same love de-railed her to the lows so much that she couldn’t recover from it again. Its like cosmos wanted her to be an actor and when she couldn’t be, it decided to end her story there. It is really sad if we deeply think about it but there is a celebration in that too.

“Aha Naa Pelli anta.. Oha Naa Pelli anta.. boru boru mantu pelli vaaru vacchunanta.. Hahahahaha aahaa haa aahaaa.. haa” 

Yes, even though it sounds odd, even in tragedy there is a celebration of life. You cannot write a tragedy without giving a space for unlimited and endless happiness to suddenly pull the carpet from under the feet and make it a heart-break. From the moment she fell in love with the moment she decided to marry a married man, secretly, Savitri went through emotions like no 19-year old can handle. On one hand, she finds love that she has been waiting for, all her life but then, she has to open a can of worms by marrying a married man who has a weakness for beauty. Well, she chose love over society and that’s when she let her penchant for love guide her destiny.

“Raavoyi Chandamama .. maa Vintha Gadha vinumaa …”

Her choices got trolled by cosmos and the ultimate supporter of her career became the destroyer too. When you build your whole life around a person who has many flaws, at times, your insecurities add up to the situations and your glass fort will break down like a dominos. This is just an unbelievable troll for any person who is as focused as Savitri and the celebration of her image as an ultimate beauty and actress looks like a satire on her failure to keep the person she loves, attracted to her, all the time. A weird love story, indeed.

“Aaduthu Paaduthu pani chesthunte alupu solupemundi le … Iddaram okkatayi cheyi kalipithe …”

Nag Ashwin and his gang of dreamers decided this weird love story needs a huge celluloid celebration and they delivered it just like that. Right from Dani’s visuals to Sai Madhav Burra lines to Mickey J. Meyer’s music to sets, everything and everyone worked in great synergy. Adding fuel to their efforts Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha and others just brunt the screen with their efforts. They all just thought and believed it as a once in a lifetime opportunity and gave it their all.

“Chanduruni minchi andamolikinchu muddu papayi ve …”

This film is not just another film for Nag Ashwin. He wants Savitri to be a celebration. He couldn’t even show her on death bed and hence used silhouettes more. He made Samantha’s Madhuravani character tell Savitri how much she loves her and it’s almost like an actress speaking to another actress about the inspiration she left behind. To make the audience accept Keerthy as Savitri, he chose to start narration with a scene where KV Reddy asks Savitri to show love and sadness in her two eyes, each one showing the other emotion. Ironically, that is the story of Savitri too. He always used mirrors to show Savitri’s inner turmoil. He never let her true self-be so direct that we chose to judge her based on that at that particular moment. He kept reminding us she is just mirroring her circumstances like all of us. Never did he try to just portray the sadness. He wants the honesty to flourish, hence as a photographer, he chose the person who likes and searches honesty everywhere. He is indeed Anthony and his penchant to tell a story is the journalist. While her cinema glory says that she is a good actress, the honest eye in him says she is beyond that and touched many lives to be “Amma“. As he himself told not everyone can be called Amma and one is known as such then they should be respected by even the biggest of them all.

“Chivariki Migiledi …”

After all these efforts to bring a memory on screen as a story became fruitful, we are able to witness a life playing in its true form with some dramatic cues to go with. Well, life is all about complexity and when it is the life of a person who loved truth and couldn’t handle it completely, we tend to take a side and judge others. But the director drove us to be objective and never let our prejudice take the center-stage to judge her. Rather he asked us to understand her and take inspiration to fight against all odds. In a day and age, when women are treated as sex objects, such strong characters should inspire many more and should leave a lasting image in our hearts as “Amma“. As they say, we can never forget Mother and Avakaya, we can never forget, Savitramma too.

Theatrical Trailer:

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