Thackeray Full Movie A cartoonist with a no-nonsense personality, Balasaheb Thackeray, played a key role in the birth of Shiv Sena and became the most influential political leader in Maharashtra.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui hit out at those who have been criticising him for playing Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, and said that instead of getting broader, people’s mindset is getting narrower by the day.

When it was announced that Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a Muslim actor born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, had been roped in to play late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray in Abhijit Panse’s Thackeray, several eyebrows were raised. It is no secret that Bal Thackeray was known not only for his Hindu fundamentalist views, but also his hostility towards migrants from the North, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Nawazuddin faced a lot of flak from netizens, including his Gangs Of Wasseypur co-star Richa Chadha who called him “bipolar” for taking on the role. However, the actor remains unfazed by all the criticism coming his way.

In an interview with an entertainment website, Nawazuddin said, “Thousands of people will say thousands of things…today every little thing is turning out to become a controversy. Rather than broadening their thoughts, people are making it narrower. I am an actor, I will do any role.”

Metaphors are used with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Communist leader Krishna Desai is stabbed to death soon after Bal Thackeray declares that it is time to do something about these “lal bandar”. It is hinted that the assassination was a milestone for the party – in the very next scene, which is entirely in black-and-white, the Shiv Sena supremo is seen trimming shrubs with a smug face and one marigold blooms brighter and brighter saffron.

Everything is tweaked to favour the Shiv Sena. Rather than instigators of violence during the 1993 riots in Mumbai, the party and its supporters are portrayed as the messiahs of the Hindus. Hooliganism is not only glorified, but presented as a solution to unemployment.

The actor also urged detractors to look at the “other side” of things. “Now, Shiv Sena, their team or Sanjay Raut gave me this role not on the basis of my caste. They didn’t see if I am a Muslim or whatever. They consider me as an artist who can do justice to a character like Balasaheb Thackeray. Why is nobody talking about this?” he asked.

“If I am born in a certain community then how am I responsible for that? It’s not something that we get out of choice. I am proud of who I am and I think the least we all could do is at least appreciate Shiv Sena for having a progressive approach and choosing me to play their idol irrespective of my religious background. They only saw an artist in me. But logon ka kya,” Nawazuddin added.

The film, in every scene, caters to the sentiment of Thackeray’s supporters. The rabble-rousing takes over story-telling from the word go. Director Abhijit Panse, who is closely associated with the Thackerays, brings his idolisation of Balasaheb to the screen and forces it down the viewer’s throat. There are tigers roaring all over the background music, hammering it into your senses that Bal Thackeray is the tiger here, almost a decade after his death. Tiger abhi bhi zinda hai, remember?

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.

With a run-time of 2 hours and 19 minutes, Thackeray, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, feels like a political sermon that goes on too long, says our review.

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