The political drama Thalaivii has been released today and as expected, Kangana Ranaut and Arvind Swami have got loads of accolades. But one can’t deny the fact even the writers (Rajat Arora and Vijayendra Prasad) and director A L Vijay have done a commendable job and in making the biopic entertaining yet sensible and dramatic. Rajat Arora, the popular writer who has earlier written films like Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010), Taxi No 9211 (2006), The Dirty Picture (2011), Kick (2014), Gabbar Is Back (2015) etc and has brought the mass elements and strong dialogues in the film which have enhanced the impact. Bollywood Hungama exclusively caught up with Rajat Arora to speak about the film and a lot more
What feedback have you got till now from the numerous press screenings of Thalaivii?
It has been outstanding. All the response has been very positive. Everyone has loved the film wholeheartedly.
How did you bag the film?
The credit has to go to Kangana. She was very keen that I get involved in this film. I was a little hesitant because I have already done biopics in the past. But she was adamant and told me “Aap hi ko yeh film karni padegi”! Eventually, I relented.
You have co-written the film with Vijayendra Prasad, who has written some blockbuster films Baahubali series, Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Mersal (2017) and many other films. How was the experience?
He is an institution. The interactions I had with him were a learning experience which I will utilize in my writing from now on. The passion that he brings was unmatchable. He is actually a very soft-spoken man but when he starts narrating and starts talking about the subject, he transforms into a different man altogether.
Could you explain the process of writing this film? It seems that you and Vijayendra Prasad have carefully ensured that the writing is simple and massy…
The challenge was that the politics and one upmanship going in the film becomes a human drama so that it can reach all kinds of audiences. At the end of it, whatever may be your plot, it is the human drama that works. So our idea was that kisi ko politics samaj mein aaye ya na aaye par aisa lagna chahiye ki Jaya (Kangana Ranaut) jeetni chahiye. There’s politics and there’s also the cinema aspect but ultimately, we want audiences to root for this woman.
The bond between MJR (Arvind Swami) and Jaya was beautifully and subtly depicted. Was this a challenge since both were legends in the field of politics?
It was definitely a challenge. I won’t call they had a romantic relationship but their bond changes as they age in the film. There’s a dialogue also in the film. Jaya tells MJR that “Kahin apne maa ban ke mujhe sahara diya aur kahin pita ban kar”. As the film progresses, their relationship also matures. So when Jaya is young, her relationship with MJR is different from what it was after few years year and both these were different from their bond when she joins politics at his insistence.
My favourite part of the film was the funeral scene of MJR…
Yes, it has been mind-blowingly shot. It gives you goosebumps.
The film starts with a political scene but then focuses mainly on Jaya’s film career. The political bit then comes into focus only in the second half. What was the thought process behind this idea?
The film’s tagline is very apt – ‘Cinema Se CM Tak’. So our film focuses on how she entered showbiz and later switched to politics. So what happened after she became the CM will be shown in the sequel. Yeh pehle padaav hai unki life mein. Ek legend banne ke peeche kya mushkilein aur dikkat thi, woh humne iss film mein darshaya hai. You just mentioned that you loved the funeral scene of MJR. The reason why it impacted you so much is because you were so invested in that character. And it is because of the bond we showed of MJR and Jaya in the first half is why the funeral scene moves you.
The Medu Wada track was hilarious and elicited laughter even from the critics in press screenings. Was that your idea?
(Smiles) Yes, it was.
I thought so…
Aisi cheezein main hi soch sakta hoon! (Laughs)
How was it working with Kangana Ranaut? There are allegations that she often interferes in the filmmaking process…
She is a phenomenal actor. Aur phenomenal actor banne ke liye aapko film mein poora ghusna padta hai. You can just come, act, leave and expect an out of the world performance. You have to fine tune your craft by understanding the nuance of the film. And she understands it extremely well. So I never felt interference from her at any level. Everyone should have their point of view. If everyone simply turns into a ‘yes man’, toh koi faayda nahi hai. Toh isko interference kehna bewakoofi hai! If someone feels that an actor’s job is to simply act and leave, that’s foolishness. Look at her performance in the film. Not even for a second do you feel that she is not living the role. It’s a National Award and every other award worthy performance.
Should Kangana Ranaut get her 5th National Award for Thalaivii?
She 100% deserves it. It’s the performance of a lifetime.
How was it working with Arvind Swami? He has also delivered a powerful performance…
Agar aap MGR ka cinema aur unki politics dekhe aur fir aap Arvind Swami sir ki performance dekhe, toh aapko koi difference lagega hi nahi! Kangana was remarkable but she was also aided as she had a pillar of support in the form of Arvind sir. He was outstanding and also a great person in real life. Also, the way he changed his voice after MJR meets with an accident was great. So there are a lot of finer nuances that people would get after watching it for the second time.
Raj Arjun as MJR’s PA was the surprise package of the film…
Yes, he’s also too good and great casting has been done by Mukesh Chhabra. These actors have given their 100%. When the writing is good, even the actors perform well. Watch out for him in the scene where he says “Khushi ko haarna padega”.
What are your thoughts on the producers of the film? It seems they have left no stone unturned while making Thalaivii…
The way Vishnu Induri and Shaailesh R Singh have mounted the film, the way they have been patient and have brought the best technicians in each department is commendable. They have made the film with a lot of love and affection. They waited with this grand film for nearly two years.
You just mentioned about a possible sequel. So is Thalaivii 2 on the anvil?
Well, let that be a surprise!
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