Nadigaiyar Thilagam: A perfect tribute to the great actress, Savitri
Movie Review by Anirudh Madhav (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
By bringing a stellar cast and a storyline together, director Nag Ashwin has done a commendable task of creating a biopic on Savitri in Nadigaiyar Thilagam. Though the movie tends to focus less on the acting career of Savitri, it primarily delves into her rise and fall in the film industry and her personal life. Keerthy Suresh gets a role of lifetime and does full justice to it and is ably supported by the supporting cast, production design and narrative.
Set in the 1980s, Madhuravani (Samantha Akkineni), a newbie reporter along with a photographer Anthony (Vijay Deverakonda) end up accepting an assignment to cover Savitri, who is found in a coma by her son. A reluctant Madhuravani sets off to discover the story of Savitri while empowering herself personally and professionally over the course of the story.
Keerthy (Savitri) has delivered one of her best performances till date, bringing alive iconic scenes from yesteryear movies. Dulquer Salmaan (Gemini Ganesan) is equally appealing in portraying the varied traits of the Kadhal Mannan. Dulquer seamlessly transitions from a romantic hero to a rude character, who eventually leads Savitri to alcoholism.
A major credit goes the production design and the makeup artists for bringing alive the 1950s Madras onscreen and transporting the audience back to the era. Ace fashion designer, Gaurang Shah makes a scintillating cinema debut with his well-researched costume creations, that brings alive the yesteryears. Apparently, it took Shah more than six months of research and over a year for weaving, texturing and coloring to get Keerthy’s look right.
Director Nag gives us an honest film on actress Savitri and has beautifully portrayed the tale of love between Ganesan and Savitri, the complexities in Ganesan’s relationships and how their relationship came to an end. With a great cast, he has managed to recreate a wholesome human drama that resonates with audience and leaves a lasting impact.
Mickey J. Meyer’s compositions helps Nag in capturing the key scenes such as her rise to fame in the song ‘Mahanadi’ and the romantic track ‘Thandaay’ captured in the backdrop of Madras, which adds a dreamy feel to the sequence.
Alongside Savitri’s life story, Nag also weaves in a subtle love story between Anthony and Madhuravani. Cinematographer Dani Sanchez-Lopez has done a brilliant job of bringing Nag Ashwin’s script to life, right from Bezwada, the birthplace of Savitri to Madras, where she rises to her prime and then, meets the tragic set of events.
Keerthy Suresh carries Nadigaiyar Thilagam on her shoulders while the other lead characters including Samantha and Vijay also lend commendable performances. The film could have done without the CGI rendition of NT Rama Rao which was unintentionally hilarious. Director Nag Ashwin has created one of the best biopics of South Indian cinema in the recent times, that is engrossing and tragic, yet a sensible tribute to the great actress (Mahanati).