'Thackeray' narrates the story of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray and features Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the iconic political leader. Siddiqui is known for being one of the most versatile actors of all times and has outshone in each and every performance he has delivered till date. And so, putting the ultimate test to his prowess, was the actor able to provide a fitting tribute to Balasaheb Thackeray? Read here.
The story begins in the late 60s and traces the life of Balasaheb Thackeray, as he goes from being a cartoonist at the 'Free Press Journal' to opening his very own weekly magazine named 'Marmik' to then establishing his political party for the betterment of the Marathi 'Manoosh' titled 'Shiv Sena'. The first half establishes Thackeray, as the one who is dearly loved among the citizens and is an influential yet a controversial figure with many fiery moments and crowd-cheering speeches. His and the ultimate goal of his 'Sainiks' is for the natives of Maharashtra to come together, and fight for equal opportunities.
The plot of the film traces Balasaheb's journey as a firebrand journalist to an influential political leader, playing a rather important role in shaping the Marathi identity in front of the entire world. From refusing to bow down to other political parties, 'Shiv Sena' continues to fight for their identity through Thackeray's 'words and deeds'.
The first half of the film is established through a monochrome setting and recreates the old Bombay quite well. He leaves his stable job at the 'Press', as his strong voice towards the political leaders was not supported, and brings in his own weekly magazine titled 'Marmik', through which he launches scathing attacks on leaders such as Morarji Desai.
However, it is the second narrative that matters as his popularity increases so much that even the political heads in New Delhi are wary of him. He constantly pushes his 'Sainik' to fight for the rights of the Maharashtrians, thus rising to become a true leader, loved by the citizens. However, the turning point of the entire three-hour-film is when the belligerent leader stands in front of the court and declares that his party workers have contributed to the demolition of Babri Masjid, and through the scene, one can say that Thackeray was not the man to mince his words.
Undoubtedly, Nawazuddin’s performance as Bal Thackeray works wonderfully for the film and the fact that the actor does not modulate his voice or speak in a Marathi accent works in his favour. He depicts a pitch-perfect portrayal that clearly stands out. Amrita Rao as Meena Tai Thackeray also does a convincing job, although she has quite a limited role. One can say that her portrayal missed a punch, due to which it failed to strike a chord with the audience.
There were various other actors that were playing leaders such as George Fernandes and Sharad Pawar, that lend absolute support to Nawazuddin Siddiqui's relentless efforts. The riled up speeches, the unapologetic behaviour, and the larger than life persona provided an honest portrayal of the leader that leaves a lasting impact in the minds of the audience.
What works: Nawazuddin Siddiqui's exceptional acting skills, the facts were portrayed in a fair and square way, without being 'whitewashed'.
What does not: Harder to relate for those who do not believe in his ideologies.