wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Is like a well-made horror film. It is well-made that is why it scares you. And of course, that it is all real-life doesn’t help.

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Director: Abhijit Panse
Running time: 140 minutes
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Disclaimer: Endorsement of the film is not an endorsement of the ideologies propagated in the film.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is as brilliant as ever. He doesn’t make Thackeray seem larger than life.

Interesting fact: The film has a disclaimer that says it doesn’t propagate communal or religious violence.

It is a well-made film, this. Thackeray, the film and the character, don’t beat around the bush. The film is as straightforward about its protagonist’s viewpoint as it can be. It sugarcoats it as much as he would have most likely in real-life. After the initial introduction, it is not dramatic at all. It uses some editing tools that work for the film’s narrative.

It is well-written in the sense that you get some insight beyond what you already know of the real-life persona. While the narration jumps from episode to episode making it seem broken and unrealistic, it also has some details that keep you very interested in the film. Some of the best bits of the narration are when it pauses and allows the characters to reflect.

However, it is all extremely disturbing because it is real (even if the film is not “realistic”). The rioteers wear their violence on their sleeves with an unabashed, “what is wrong with that?” attitude. Sentiments that condone dictatorship are indeed scary. And I assume, this fear is what will most likely be considered a success of the film. Which makes the circle of fear even stronger.

Oh and of course, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is as brilliant as ever. He doesn’t make Thackeray seem larger than life. He makes the artist-turned-politician look like a regular citizen with normal aspirations that a person has for his community—making the film...even more disturbing. But I guess there is some solace in the fact that there is a non-Maharashtrian playing Bal Keshav Thackeray.

- meeta, a part of the audience

31 reviewers(?) - 7 yays 17 so-so 7 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, THACKERAY is a well-made and well-told biopic about one of the most important political figures of Maharashtra and India. The target audience and the centres in Maharashtra would surely accept this film with open arms. However, the film also has a pan-India appeal and this can surely go in its favour.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Verdict: Don’t miss Thackeray. It’s like a gym session that gives you a high. You can actually feel the adrenaline pumping, many a time during the film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy when it comes to Mumbai and Maharashtra politics can’t be denied. He became a god for millions and this biopic comes close to introducing us to his persona. That said, he was more than the sum of images that the present film invokes and maybe we won’t ever get the true picture...... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, : ...THACKERAY starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui may have its reasons for coming on screen and the maker has hinted a sequel as well. So this is the first movie on the life of Balasaheb Thackeray - the leader who gains supremacy in Mumbai, a political leader who never fought any election and never went to parliament was influential in deciding the fate of Maharashtra. BalaSaheb had an undeniable charisma as a leader, which a politician dreams to have and Nawazuddin Siddiqui recreates it on screen.... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Watch this one even if you do not believe in Thackeray’s principles and philosophy. No political biopic has been as gripping since “Savarkar” all of 18 years ago.... full review

Thumbs up, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...Overall, this film is notches better than any of the previous movies offering a glimpse into Balasaheb's life.... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...Anyway, do watch THACKERAY to form your own opinion about the man, his strategies and his mission, since there is also going to be a sequel as conveyed by the film in its final credits.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Come to think of it,this could have been a great mythological film if only there was not so much violence and bloodshed. But hey, there is also redemption. After a brutal communal riot we see Balasheb bring a Muslim family to his home . He even allows the man to do his namaaz in his livingroom.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Unlike a few other recent biopics, Thackeray is very well-made with meticulous period details and casting so correct that the characters can easily be identified. It can be called propagandist, but at least it cannot be accused of being tacky. There is a distinct possibility of a sequel, because a “To be continued” appears at the end.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Thankfully, the makers do not throw in unneccessary songs which could have deviated your focus from the story-telling. Thackeray as a bopic may not tick all the boxes, but it does entertain with its crowd-pleasing dialogues and Nawazuddin Siddiqui's superlative performance.... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, FirstPost : ...Sadly there is very little focus on his children or even his impact as an artist. The timeline of Thackeray is conveniently engineered to delete the unflattering, the sensitive and the problematic mandate. What remains are elements that buoy up the founder of the Shiv Sena and paint him in resplendent saffron. The colour-agnostic are likely to find this portrait as fascinating as it is disturbing.... full review

So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...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.... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...When Thackeray says, ‘we didn’t destroy any masjid; we only moved it away’, several cheers went up in the theatre I was in. I watched this film swinging between unease and admiration: the former for how easy it is to create rabid, bloody difference amongst people and create a lasting legacy, and the latter for just how well a skilled actor can portray a man who prided himself on kindling that difference.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Thackeray is an interesting journey of a person larger than life portrayed in a very entertaining way. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s superlative performance will be remembered as one of his best. Don’t expect to learn anything from the film but surely hope for a fun time!... full review

So-So, by Komal Nahta, Komal Nahta : ...On the whole, Thackeray has masala for the audience in Maharashtra mainly. Outside the state of Maharashtra, the film stands bleak chances despite a National holiday today (January 26) due to Republic Day. Collections will show a big jump in Maharashtra today.... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Sudeep Chatterjee’s photography, in black-and-white and colour, classes up the production: there’s a wonderful bit of framing with a shaft of sunlight, a sleepy man, a poster and a cat. Before he starts dressing like the older Thackeray, Siddiqui, in his white kurta and glasses, looks and sounds as he did in his last Hindi film, Manto. It’s a potentially great part and Siddiqui is never less than authoritative, but he can’t take us inside Thackeray’s head the way he did with Manto, mostly because there’s no desire on the director’s part to explore the psychology of his subject.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Balasaheb was synonymous with his unorthodox theories which.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Vats, : ...Then there are references to current and former politicians like Sharad Pawar, Morarji Desai, Indiara Gandhi, George Fernandez and Vasant Rao. These snippets make for an interesting watch and keep the audiences hooked for 140 minutes. However, here’s the thing — bold views in a film can’t envelope notorious tactics in real life, so I wouldn’t blame you if you hold it against Bal Thackeray and his party members who have galvanized resources to make this film.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now : ...The story of one of the most beloved and yet the most divisive political figures in Indian politics is surprisingly well made. Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes for a great Thackeray, but the script sticks to the major events of his political life, leaving you wishing the film had shown him more human than hero of the masses.... full review

So-So, by Utkarsh Mishra, Rediff : ...The movie is a tale of how a young Thackeray realised that Maharashtrians were oppressed in their own land and went on to build an organisation to 'correct' this system by using violent means whenever required, calling it the real power.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...All through the revisionism, Thackeray is portrayed as a cool autocrat who enjoys his pipe and cigars and a mug of beer and is a devoted husband to his wife Meena (Amrita Rao). The movie ends with the Shiv Sena’s peak moment in Maharashtra politics – the victory of the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the 1995 state elections. Subsequent events that roiled the party, such as the exit of Thackeray’s nephew Raj who formed the rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, are left out. The result is a saffron-tinted movie that harks back to times that were glorious for some and nightmarish for countless others.... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...Writer and producer Sanjay Raut doesn’t distort facts from Bal Thackeray’s story. The riled up speeches, the unapologetic candour and the larger-than-life persona is presented without a veil. While the honesty is commendable, it comes across that the lead character’s political motivations lack clarity. Perhaps a more seasoned writer could have fleshed out Thackeray’s character and eccentricities a lot better. But its Nawaz’s nonchalant performance that overshadows the flaws and leaves a lasting impact.... full review

So-So, by Ankita Chakravarti, Zee News : ...Coming back to the film, it won't quench your thirst for a perfect biopic because it clearly isn't. However, the film doesn't lionise Thackeray and that's exactly why you should watch it. Nawazuddin Siddiqui's performance is not a surprise element because there isn't anything that the actor cannot do and it surely can be one of the primary reasons to watch this film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...This scene occurs early in the film, after Bal Thackeray (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has resigned from his job at the Free Press Journal. (His political cartoons proved too “sharp” for the spineless Tamilian editor.) Thackeray, subsequently, slips into a movie theatre. It’s probably the late 1950s. A poster for Kaagaz Ke Phool is on display in the foyer. Inside, as the camera sweeps across the audience, we see that Thackeray is surrounded by Tamilians, Sardars, Parsis, Muslims.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, Duniyalive : ...That, in essence, is the general drift of this exercise: a cinematic lionising of a political career that thrived on exclusionary, majoritarian muscle-flexing. Not a great idea in these fractious times. As provocative as the politics it celebrates, Thackeray is a film that is best left alone.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shreevatsa Nevatia, Film Companion : ...Directors of propaganda films usually rely on drama when trying to rewrite history. You need emotions to belie facts. Abhijit Panse, sadly, doesn’t even succeed in bringing a full set of feelings to the table. In the end, Thackeray is for most part an orientation film for Shiv Sainiks, whose notions of history have to be shaped for the future. One can maybe expect audiences in the party’s strongholds to cheer a couple of times, but even they would acknowledge that Thackeray is no blockbuster. The film ends with the words ‘to be continued’ flashing on screen. It would suffice to say—we really have seen it all.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...As a film, the acting is decent, the lookalikes are mostly good (the man playing Thackeray’s father, Keshav, is perfectly cast) and it looks crisp and well produced, with the majority of the film cleverly shot in black and white to depict another time. Despite the slick production and efficient making, the film feels exhaustingly long, primarily because it refuses to believe its protagonist has any flaws.... full review

Thumbs down, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : ...The dialogues are crude and most of it sounds like one warcry after another. No, Panse, people don't speak in verses like "arre, ghar mein nahi hai ration, aur yeh bahar jaa ke sunn rahe hai sahab ka bhashan" - not in 2019, not in the 60s.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonil Dedhia, MiD DAY : ...Siddiqui is riveting as Thackeray. It is his terrific performance that makes you invested in the film even when it trudges down a predictable path. But he falters with his voice; he can't match the deep baritone of his subject. Amrita Rao is convincing as Meena Thackeray. The movie ends with the victory of the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the 1995 state elections; the makers also use the opportunity here to announce the sequel. Produced by Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut, the film barely goes beyond being the audio-visual version of Sena's official newspaper.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Between Thackeray’s followers who will rationalise everything about him and find the film charismatic and the detractors who will find it unconvincing and abhorrent, lies a hagiography in continuum. The sequel to Thackeray, it seems, will soon be upon us.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Riots, bloodshed. A torture scene too.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Life of Bal Keshav Thackeray
  • General Look and Feel: A straightforward narration

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:

Thackeray - Cast, crew, links

Costume Designer:
Running time:
140 minutes

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