Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amrita Rao, Sudhir Mishra, Abdul Qdir Amin, Laxman Sing Rajput, Anushka Jadhav, Niranjan Javir, Dr. Sachin A Jayavant, Vishal Sudarshanwar, Radha Sagar, Satish Alekar, Anand Vikas Potduke
Director: Abhijeet Panse
Rating: * * ½
This bilingual (made in Hindi and Marathi) biopic on the controversial political leader Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as Balasaheb, fashioned by MNS member Abhijeet Panse and produced by Shiv Sainik Sanjay Raut, is unabashedly propagandist in nature. And with Nawazuddin portraying the Supremo of the Shiv Sena, you get what you expect – a larger than life enunciation of a man who held radical, hard-line views, made regional parochialism popular and gave the native Maharashtrians someone to believe in and call their own.
This film in fact plays out like an advertisement of what the Shiv Sena stands for and we are hearing it from the man playing the founder of the party. Violence is the credo on which the Sena achieves its objectives and the film does not eschew from that aspect. The narrative moves forward in chapters. Flashbacks during a court room trial relating to the Babri Masjid Demolition opens out into personal milestones of the charismatic leader. We are made privy to the young cartoonist setting up his own magazine and coming up with the idea for Marathis to reassert themselves over the increasing numbers of other linguistic migrants into Bombay.
‘Uthao Lungi Bajao Pungi’ was the war cry against the South Indians in the late 60’s. Panse and his team of writers are unapologetic in their entreaty of violence as a mode to achieve ideological dominance. There’s no attempt to go beyond the obvious here. Most of Bal Thackeray’s actions are well documented on the internet and filmmaker merely spools out those events while Thackeray opines on the things he holds dear.
References to political rivals and equations with strange political bedfellows, wordy incitements, canny invectives and provocative speeches are laid bare. Sharad Pawar, Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi, George Fernandez, Vasant Rao Naik and many more find mention here as the aggro intensifies and the violence comes to a head. The plotting, though non-linear feels crude and lacking in finesse. The actors merely echo the call laid out by the director. This is less of a character study and more of an effort to get a radical point of view across – so that the party can reap dividends during the election season near at hand.