Thackeray – not a work of propaganda, but a celebration of violence.

This biopic, directed by Abhijit Panse, traces the rise of Bal Keshav Thackeray. He goes from being a city cartoonist to establishing a new political party for Maharashtrians, The Shiv Sena. The movie takes us through the pages of his political agenda and also his personal story.

As given the title by his supporters, Thackeray is the superhero for his country. There is no room for grey in the movie. The story being told is quite black and white for the audience. The movie reveals all the hard truth in the life of Thackeray. Not as a warm misunderstood figure but a violent leader. So it ends up as one-sided, distorted, saffron hued take on Thackeray’s political control over Maharastra, as he become the most influential political leader.

Bal Thackeray definitely cannot be contained in one movie, this requires a sequel. Which is exactly what the party’s MP Sanjay Raut plans to have. As the film ends on a note, ‘to be continued’, we are sure to be witnessing another whitewash on our Shiv Sena’s previous leader.

The movie engages the audience primarily because of the power packed performance given by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He breathes life and fire into the so-called tiger, a Hindutva leader of the state.

The irony of watching Nawazuddin crowing about Hindu supremacy and provocative speeches against muslims is out of the creek. To celebrate the destruction of a mosque or to hear him give a full blown hate speech has no room for any doubt. Given that Thackeray is against outsiders taking jobs of Marathi people, the actor delivering these as pure self-acclaimed is quite commendable.

Presented without a veil are his unapologetic bluntness and larger than life persona. While the movie bears the truth, the political motivations of the character lacks clarity.

‘Thackeray’ is obviously self-aware with the fact that it’s not a work of propaganda. It is the work of pride, the celebration of a legacy of violence.

But it is Nawaz’s nonchalant performance that overshadows the flaws leaving a lasting impact on the audience.