Name: Nadigayar Thilagam
Director: Nag Ashwin
Cast: Keerthi Suresh, Dulquer Salman, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Vijay Deverakonda, Rajendra Prasad, Bhanupriya, Naga Chaitanya and others
Music: Mickey J Meyer
Cinematography: Dani Sanchez-Lopez
Nadigaiyar Thilagam, the much awaited biopic of veteran actress Savitri, pays a fitting and glorious tribute to one of the greatest legends of both the Tamil and Telugu film industries.
Keerthy Suresh as Savitri does a fantastic job in the film. In fact, she single-handedly carries the entire film on her shoulders and in the process, comes up with what could easily be the finest performance of her career so far.
Apart from managing to showcase a striking resemblance to the legend, Keerthi has also taken pains to study the actress’s mannerisms that include her walk, her facial expressions, her smile and her body language. Studying mannerisms is one thing but reproducing them on screen is another. Keerthi scores in both departments handsomely and as a result, her performance is a treat to watch.
To reprise a legend is no easy task and Keerthy does an admirable job of playing the star. The film, as can be made out from its name, looks to pay tribute to the benevolent actress by narrating her life story.
Director Nag Ashwin deserves a big round of applause for researching her life history well and for beautifully narrating the most significant incidents of her life in an engaging manner. The story tells of incidents, not known to many, that speak volumes of Savitri’s generosity and her skill as an actress.
For instance, there is this incident in which a short tempered veteran director, who is particular about everything in his film to the last T, is seen giving instructions to his cameraman, a foreigner, about the manner in which he wants a scene shot. Just as they are about to go for a take, the assistant director informs that the glycerine bottle is broken and therefore they are out of glycerine, needed to make the heroine cry in the scene. The fuming director lambasts the assistant and says he will have to bear in mind that it is his carelessness that has caused the shooting for the day to be called off. Taking pity on the assitant director, who is taking fire for the lapse, Savitri, who plays the heroine in the film, offers to placate the director by offering to do the scene without glycerine.
However, he makes it an ego issue. He tells her that he cannot keep reshooting the scene 50 times without glycerine. She responds by saying she will get it right the very first time. He then mocks her saying, ‘This is not a joke. I want you to express a feeling of love and also sorrow at the same time. I want you to showcase love in one eye and sorrow in the other. You cannot do it in one take.’ Savitri reaffirms her faith in her skill. He then looks to make life difficult for her. He says, ‘I want you to show love in one eye. I want you to shed tears. Not in both eyes but in just one eye.’ Savitri is unperturbed. She says she will do it. In fact, she goes on to ask, ‘How many drops do you want me to shed?’ Now, the director is furious. He says,’Oh, So, you think you are that good? I want two tear drops. Exactly, two drops, no more! If you can’t do it, you will have to fall in front of the camera in front of the whole crew and apologise!’ The actress agrees.
She does exactly what she promised, stunning not just the director but the entire crew who break into applause. The director blesses her saying that her name will continue to prevail as long as there is Telugu cinema.
This is just one of the many incidents that have been showcased in this film, which has some scintillating music by Mickey J Meyer.
The number Thandaay, which looks like it is set to the Kambhoji raaga, in particular is delightful and takes the cake. The background score is just apt, accentuating some fantastic visuals from the cinematographer from Spain, Daniel Sanchez-Lopez. Each shot in the film is a work of art and there is not one scene, which is found wanting in terms of lighting.
A special word of appreciation for the entire Art Direction team which must have gone through hell to reproduce a bygone era.
In short, this glorious tribute is bound to endear the actress to those who don’t know about her. As for her fans, this film will make their hearts melt on the one hand with sadness and swell with pride on the other. It will leave them with the sweetest memories of a generous, benovelant, kind, trusting, bold woman, who truly deserved to be what she is – a star.