Mahanati

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Mahanati
Torso of Keerthy Suresh in the look of Savitri in center and the title appears at bottom in Telugu script.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nag Ashwin
Produced by
Written by
Screenplay by Siddhaarth Sivasamy
Starring
Music by Mickey J. Meyer
Cinematography Dani Sanchez-Lopez
Edited by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao
Production
company
Distributed by Trident Arts (Tamil)
Release date
  • 9 May 2018 (2018-05-09) (Telugu)
  • 11 May 2018 (2018-05-11) (Tamil)
Running time
  • 173 minutes (Telugu)
  • 172 minutes (Tamil)
Country India
Language

Mahanati (lit. The Great Actress) is a 2018 Indian Telugu-language biographical film based on the life of actress Savitri. The film is directed by Nag Ashwin, produced by C. Ashwini Dutt, Swapna Dutt and Priyanka Dutt under Vyjayanthi Movies and Swapna Cinema banners and stars Keerthy Suresh in the titular role while Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha Akkineni, and Vijay Devarakonda play the other lead roles. Rajendra Prasad, Bhanupriya, and Prakash Raj appear in other pivotal roles. Music for the film is composed by Mickey J. Meyer.

Production began in May 2017 with filming taking place in both Telugu and Tamil languages, the latter titled Nadigaiyar Thilagam (lit. The Pride of an Actress). Mahanati was released on 9 May 2018, and Nadigaiyar Thilagam on 11 May 2018. The film was also dubbed in Malayalam. The film received positive reviews from critics with them praising the film screenplay and narration, performances especially of Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan music, and background score, and the direction of Nag Ashwin.

Plot[edit]

Mahanati depicts the life and career of one of South Indian cinema's greatest and most iconic starlets, the first Indian female superstar, Savitri.

The film begins in Bangalore, popular yesteryear actress Savitri (Keerthy Suresh) is discovered unconscious by her young son. After being admitted into a hospital she goes into a coma. Many papers report the incident, but the reasons and the story of her life remain a mystery, until a young investigative journalist, Madhuravani (Samantha Akkineni) seizes the opportunity to dig into the life of Savitri. Accompanied by smitten photographer Anthony (Vijay Devarakonda), she pieces together the life of Savitri, from her meager beginnings to the dazzling heights she attained, before losing it all to poor health, bad decisions, bad luck and failed relationships.

Even as a child, Savitri’s jubilant personality is on display right from the start. Despite being the daughter of a widow Subhadramma (Divyavani) and living with her uncle K. V. Chowdary (Rajendra Prasad) and aunt Durgamamba (Bhanupriya), she is magnanimous in speech, thought and action. There she befriended Susheela (Shalini Pandey) and they become best friends. Chowdary decides to teach her to dance by enrolling her in a dance school, to make a profit off her, but Savitri isn't interested. Yet when the dance teacher dismisses her as incapable of learning dance, she makes up her mind to prove him wrong. She and her friend act in many stages of play and claim peoples praise. Later she moves on to the theater and proves to be a natural stage actress, with her expressive face and eyes that speak volumes.

Chowdary gets her to enter the world of cinema. Despite  many attempts, Savitri's young age and her inability to speak the Tamil language hinder her prospects. In a chance encounter, she meets Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan (Dulquer Salmaan) who works in the casting department. They are mutually attracted to each other and  he helps her catch a break. The two stars rise together and Savitri, despite knowing that Gemini Ganesan is a married man, cannot help falling in love with him, and they eventually get married. Their marriage causes a fallout between her and her family but she holds on to her dream of withdrawing from the limelight and being a homemaker to get the husband. But when cinema calls for her, she must go. Savitri acts in many films, which turn out to be successful. But Gemini starts to get depressed, follows with professional jealousy, because she is much more popular than him, and that encourages him to drink. Savitri tries to stop him many times, but Gemini then asks her to start drinking with him. She does, and gets involved with alcohol and also starts gaining weight.

The media starts talking about her gaining weight. But things are looking up again, a few ladies tell Savitri that the cinema is only obsessing over the male superstars. The group of ladies convinces Savitri to direct a film with only female leads. Savitri happily agrees, and she acts and directs the film. Savitri also starts giving philanthropic gestures to the community, causing people to adore her. On the day of the theater release of the movie, Savitri realizes that Gemini was nowhere to be seen. She goes looking for him before joining the ladies for the movie. Then she finds him in their guesthouse with another girl. Being cheated, she angrily refuses to talk to him and shuts him out of their house. This is when Savitri starts heavily drinking and gaining a lot of weight.

Savitri becomes devastated with the death of her mother, and most of her property taken away, she starts drinking a lot. One day, Savitri fights with her daughter about alcohol and faints. Her daughter takes Savitri to the hospital, and they learn that she has diabetes. Her estranged uncle Chowdary comes to visit her, and Savitri asks her daughter and her uncle for forgiveness and that her daughter gets married. Savitri starts losing weight and stops drinking. Savitri’s property is taken away, so she lives in a smaller house with her son and starts acting in a few films where she realizes that one of her trusted housekeeper, Satyam (Mahesh Achanta), had stolen some money from her. The tax officers also keep asking for money from her, and she strongly refuses. The next day she goes to Bangalore with her son, feeling lost, calls Gemini but is unable to talk to him. Though Gemini does recognize her even though the blank call. Her life flashes before her eyes start drinking alcohol once more and she collapses.

Madhurvani finishes the article about Savitri, which causes everyone to know the real Savitri, and people adore her even more. Madhurvani learns a lot from Savitri and realizes her love for a Christian photographer, Anthony. Madhurvani visits Savitri while she is in the coma, and gives her a necklace and flowers. Madhurvani also finds the picture of Savitri’s father whom Savitri has been trying to see how he looks since the beginning of the movie and gives it to her. Madhurvani says that she had been inspired by her story and that everyone will love her now. The film ends with a text on the screen that Savitri passed away after remaining in coma for 19 months. Then there is a flashback episode of Savitri leaving the water pond in the temple where Susheela and Savitri often meet. Susheela asks her when she could meet her again. Savitri turns around, smiles and tells her to meet her again in cinema.

Cast[edit]

Guest appearances

Production[edit]

In May 2016, director Nag Ashwin, who had previously made Yevade Subramanyam (2015), announced that his next film would be a biopic of South Indian actress Savitri and that it would be shot simultaneously in Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil. Titled Mahanati, Ashwin revealed that he had finished work on the script and was in the middle of casting actors to be a part of the project.[1] During the pre-production phase, Ashwin spent six months in research by reading articles and books, while meeting old journalists and actors who had been associated with the actress. Explaining why he chose to turn Savitri's career into a film script, he stated "from a penniless origin to the first female superstar, her life is quite a story" and that it was a "moment in time where it has been long enough that film legends have left us" and "that we will have to revisit them and understand why they are legends".[2] Soon after the announcement of the film, the media carried speculative reports that either Anushka Shetty, Sonakshi Sinha or Vidya Balan would be cast in the lead role. Denying the developments in August 2016, Ashwin stated he was still editing the script and intended to cast the lead actress with an audience poll.[3][4]

The team continued to hold talks with actresses for the lead role, and despite extended discussions with Nithya Menen, the actress did not agree to sign the film.[5][6] Samantha was the first lead actor to be cast in the film during December 2016 and revealed she would portray a character from whose point of view the story is narrated, rather than the role of Savitri.[7][8] Reports also suggested that she may be appearing as another actress from the era, Jamuna, a close friend of Savitri.[9] Subsequently, Keerthy Suresh was cast in the lead role of Savitri in early January 2017.[10][11] The film's first look poster featuring both actresses was released in March 2017 to coincide with International Women's Day.[12] For the role of Gemini Ganesan, Savitri's husband, Ashwin had considered Suriya or Madhavan, before finalising Dulquer Salmaan for the character.[13][14] Vijay Deverakonda, who had also earlier been considered for Gemini Ganesan's role, was then selected to portray another role in the film.[15][16]

The principal shoot of the biopic began on 29 May 2017 at Ramakrishna Studios in Hyderabad, with the Telugu title confirmed as Mahanati and the Tamil title confirmed as Nadigaiyar Thilagam.[17][18] Actor Rajendra Prasad joined the cast during the first schedule, while Mickey J Meyer and Dani Sanchez-Lopez were confirmed as music composer and cinematographer respectively.[19] Ashwin revealed that Dulquer's portrayal of Gemini Ganesan would go beyond just the physical resemblance and the character's emotional side would also be depicted.[20] Keerthy Suresh was requested to put on weight for the film and shot for a vintage song in early June 2017 as a part of the first schedule.[21] Prakash Raj also joined the team in August 2017 to play the role of producer Aluri Chakrapani.[22]

Soundtrack[edit]

Mahanati
Soundtrack album by Mickey J. Meyer
Released 1 May 2018 (2018-05-01)
Recorded 2017
Length 20:31
Label Aditya Music
Producer Mickey J. Meyer
Mickey J. Meyer chronology
Mister
(2017)
Mahanati
(2018)
Srinivasa Kalyanam
(2018)

All music composed by Mickey J. Meyer.

Telugu track listing
No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."Mooga Manasulu"Sirivennela Sitarama Sastry4:19
2."Sada Nannu"Sirivennela Sitarama SastryCharulatha Mani3:37
3."Mahanati"Ramajogayya SastryAnurag Kulkarni4:44
4."Aagipo Baalyama"Sirivennela Sitarama SastryRamya Behara2:33
5."Chivaraku Migiledi"Sirivennela Sitarama SastrySunitha Upadrashta2:58
6."Gelupuleni Samaram"Sirivennela Sitarama SastryRamya Behara3:41
Total length:20:31

All lyrics written by Madhan Karky.

Tamil track listing
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Mauna Mazhaiyilae"
4:19
2."Thandhaay"Charulatha Mani3:37
3."Mahanadi"Anurag Kulkarni4:44
4."Kutti Rani"Nayana Nair2:33
5."Irudhiyil Enna Enjum"Nayana Nair2:58
6."Amudhai Pole Kidaithaai"Nayana Nair3:10
Total length:20:01

Release[edit]

Mahanati was released on 9 May 2018 worldwide,[23] while Nadigaiyar Thilagam was released on 11 May 2018.[24]

Critical reception[edit]

Mahanati opened to positive reviews from both the critics and audience, with praise lauded towards Keerthy Suresh, Dulquer Salmaan, Samantha and Vijay Devarakonda for their roles.

Times of India rated the film 4/5 stars, and reviewed, "To call ‘Mahanati’ a celebration of Savitri’s life would be an understatement, because the film breathes her life in a span of almost 3 hours. There are few films in the Telugu film industry that make you feel the way this one does – empathize and fall head over heels in love with the protagonist even in her lowest of lows. Watching ‘Mahanati’ is an experience one won’t forget soon as it will make you walk away with a heavy heart, mourning for a great artiste whose life was wasted and lost. Tears will be shed, claps will be heard, goose bumps will be felt – all in reverence and in tribute to the Mahanati. But the best part about this film is, it will make you smile, because Savitri deserves to be remembered for more than just the tragedy in her life, she deserves to be remembered for the beautiful soul she was."[25]

Hindustan Times gave it a rating of 3.5/5 stars with a review, "It is a huge responsibility to take up a film which deals with a star of Savitri’s stature and keep it true to the life that she had led. Director Nag Ashwin has managed to do so successfully in majority. In the grand scheme of things, Mahanati is a story that needed to be said and it found a beautiful voice through director Nag Ashwin and actress Keerthy Suresh."[26] Reviewing Nadigaiyar Thilagam, Sudhir Srinivasan of The New Indian Express was critical, calling it "a dubbed film in disguise" since, despite being promoted as a straight Tamil film, it retained many scenes from Mahanati without changing the lip-sync scenes.[27]

Awards[edit]

Equality in cinema - IFFM - 2018 - Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nag Ashwin plans biopic on the legendary actress Savitri". The News Minute. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Nag Ashwin's next a biopic on legendary actress Savitri". The Indian Express. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Savitri biopic: Haven't approached Vidya Balan, says Nag Ashwin". www.hindustantimes.com. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Vidya Balan Hasn't Been 'Approached' For Film on South Actress Savitri – NDTV Movies". NDTVMovies.com. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Nithya Menen hasn't signed Mahanati yet". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "Nithya Menon s conditions frustrate the director – Telugu Movie News – IndiaGlitz". IndiaGlitz.com. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Samantha in Savitiri's biopic?". Sify. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  8. ^ "Samantha will be acting in Savitri biopic but not in the lead role – Tamil Movie News – IndiaGlitz". IndiaGlitz.com. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  9. ^ "Samantha may be essaying Jamuna – Telugu Movie News – IndiaGlitz". IndiaGlitz.com. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Keerthy Suresh, Samantha in Savitri's biopic?". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "Confirmed: Keerthy Suresh to play Savitri in Mahanati". Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  12. ^ Desk, The Hindu Net (8 March 2017). "Savitri biopic poster unveiled". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  13. ^ "Dulquer to play Gemini Ganesan – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  14. ^ "Dulquer pips Suriya and Madhavan, set to play Gemini Ganesan in Savitri biopic". www.hindustantimes.com. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "A new addition to Savitri biopic". www.deccanchronicle.com. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "'Pelli Choopulu' hero in Savithri biopic!". Sify. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  17. ^ "Mahanati, biopic on iconic actress Savitri, officially launched – Pinkvilla South". Pinkvilla South. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  18. ^ "Mahanati starts rolling in Hyderabad today – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  19. ^ "Mahanati, Hollywood Touch For Tollywood Past". greatandhra.com. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  20. ^ Ians (30 July 2017). "Dulquer to not mimic Gemini Ganesan in 'Mahanati'". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  21. ^ "Keerthy Suresh to put on some weight to play Savithri in 'Mahanati', a biopic on Savithri by Nag Ashwin – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  22. ^ "Prakash Raj joined the sets of 'Mahanati' – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  23. ^ "Mahanati box-office collections: Keerthy Suresh-starrer crosses half million at the US box-office". The Times of India. 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  24. ^ http://www.sify.com/movies/nadigaiyar-thilagam-censored-to-release-in-tamil-on-may-11-news-tamil-sffox8jfaicjf.html
  25. ^ Mahanati Movie Review {4/5}: Watching ‘Mahanati’ is an experience one won’t forget soon, retrieved 2018-05-11 
  26. ^ "Mahanati movie review: Keerthy Suresh breathes life into Savitri's beautiful tragedy". Hindustan Times. 2018-05-10. Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  27. ^ http://www.cinemaexpress.com/stories/columns/2018/may/20/viewfinder-the-big-bilingual-scam-6100.html

External links[edit]