Mahanati Review – Keerthy Suresh captures the magic of Savitri

I have been anticipating Mahanati for a year, since Dulquer Salmaan posted a picture of himself on twitter as Gemini Ganesan, announcing that he was debuting in his first Telugu film, a period piece.

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I didn’t know anything about the legendary actress Savitri until I posted my trailer reaction to the Mahanati teaser trailer.  I asked for people to send me links and clips, and my Youtube viewers sent me songs and scene clips, but universally, they all told me I HAD to see Maya Bazar.  Boy, am I glad I watched the 1957 classic film before I watched Mahanati.  Because the very first glimpse of Keerthy Suresh in the film is a filming of a famous scene from Maya Bazar, and I recognized it immediately.  Watching Maya Bazar meant I could judge whether Keerthy was nailing it as Savitri — and boy did she ever!

Here’s my full review of the film:

 

Nadigaiyar_Thilagam_Stills__7__0Dulquer Salmaan had to walk a fine line.  He played the actor Gemini Ganesan, who married Savitri even though he was already married, and also had a mistress (with whom he fathered Rekha!).  He has to be so charming and compelling that you believe that Savitri would fall for him, and you also don’t like him very much at many points in the film.  He did an exceptional job.

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Vijay Deverakonda and Samantha Akkineni play newspaper reporters compiling a story about the mystery of Savitri’s last days.  They have a wonderful chemistry together.  Samantha Akkineni has a career best speech in the final 15 minutes of the film.

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Hats off to director Nag Ashwin, for an incredible film, only his second full length feature film.  This film covers the 50’s through the 80’s and the period details seem to be perfect.  Many, many scenes from classic films are recreated, including actor Naga Chaitanya playing his grandfather ANR.  It’s an amazing scope for a film, and so ambitious a project.

But the key is that Keerthy Suresh really captures the charm and spirit of the legendary actress Savitri.  It’s a career best performance for her. The soundtrack is also exceptional, and I’m playing Mooga Manasulu (Muted Hearts) on repeat.

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Manam – A Comfort Movie as delicious as a mug of hot chocolate

Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood raved to me before she posted her review that I had to watch Manam [Us], especially when I told her the other movie I was taking on my flights was Aligarh.   I’m so glad I did.  It was so wonderful!  The perfect cozy family film – like drinking a big mug of hot chocolate.

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I didn’t realize until I looked up the movie when I got home from my trip that the actors in this film are all in the same family.  And the family company, Anapurma Studios, produced the film.  This was the final film of ANR, who died of colon cancer during post-production.  His son Nagarjuna wanted to work together on one last film, and it’s a worthy tribute to his father.  Nagarjuna’s son Chaitanya is one of the leads, and there’s a cameo with his other son Akhil == and a special appearance by Amitabh Bachchan!

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The only other film I’ve seen with Nagarjuna is King.  I liked him, but the action comedy movie wasn’t the best.  I loved him in Manam.  Manam is a reincarnation movie.  Nagarjuna loses his parents the day after his 6th birthday, and in their honor has become one of the wealthiest businessmen in India.  He happens to sit next to the reincarnation of his father on an airplane.  His father is played by Nagarjuna’s son Chaitanya (who is adorable!).

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Nagarjuna then searches out his mother, and finds her reincarnation, too, played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu.  He has an instant connection to his mother, but has to work a little harder to connect with his father.   He plots how to get his parents reunited again.  They had been about to divorce when they died, and there are unresolved issues.

 

But my favorite part of the film is when we discover that Nagarjuna has been reincarnated, too!  His son is played by Nagarjuna’s father, ANR.  The flashback scenes of the romance back in the past with Nagarjuna and Shriya Saran are just magical.  Nagarjuna is wealthy in the past, too, and chooses a poor woman to marry because he likes her picture.  He is puzzled why she wants to wait 6 months to marry and seeks her out.  He discovers that she needs 6 months to earn enough money to purchase his traditional groom gift of clothes.  She doesn’t know who he is and lets him stay and be her worker on her farm to earn the money faster.

The reveal scene at the wedding when she the curtain drops and she just leaps on him because of course she had fallen in love — the best!  Oh, my goodness, how I loved this scene:

None of the issues and problems in the film are horrible, and even though people die — they come back and work it out in the next life.

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This movie is like a big ole family group hug.  I loved every minute.  Highly recommend!

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Margaret was right.  This was the perfect feel good movie to follow the darkness in Aligarh.

When I realized Naga Chaitanya has the Nivin Pauly role in the Telugu Premam, I went out to see that film next.  Review coming soon!