If there was one man who would have been unabashed by a film on himself that presents him as villain worshipped as the biggest hero of the Marathi Manoos, it would be Bal Keshav Thackeray popularly called Bala Saheb in Indian politics and Hindu Hriday Samrat by his ardent (Shiv) Sainiks.

The film is well stitched chapter and verse about his life from the time he decided to quit his job of cartoonist at the Free Press Journal sighting editorial issues.

Thackeray who was largely inspired by his father Keshav ‘Prabodhankar’ Thackeray who was a respected social activitist, writer and founding member of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement of the 1950s that argued for the creation of a unified state called Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking areas with Mumbai as its capital.

Though Prabhodhankar was known and respected for his anti-casteist stance, Bal Thackrey would be known to turn his father’s (marathi) language based unification model into an anti-immigrant stance through Shiv Sena that claimed to be the saviour of the exploited ‘Marathi Manoos’ in the metropolitan Bombay where Gujarati’s owned trade, South Indian’s Udipi restaurants, Parsi’s owned industries and Punjabi’s ruled in the entertainment sector, while the son of the land (Dhartiputra) Marathi is jobless and had no future.

This film is not glorification, it is glorification by admission to everything that the late Sena Supremo has been accused off and an obvious propaganda coming from the party members of Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Rout who produces the film and Director Abhijit Panse of the MNS.

The film starts in Lukhnow (also, to bust the myth that Balasaheb never travelled outside of Maharashtra through his political career) where he is due to appear in court for his then alleged role in instigating violence leading to demolition of the disputed Babri Mosque at the birth place of Ram Lalla. 

Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays the titular role appears from the well guarded Lukhnow Airport in the attire made famous by the protagonist in the film – A saffron shawl and Rudraksh on wrist and neck while the state machinery escorts him to the court the passerby extras discuss weather he is good or evil as he enters the court he’s welcomed by an applause by everyone at the court while the Judge himself stops short of rising for the menacing hero.

The first thing you’ll notice in the character is the annoying prosthetic nose which had me staring at it non stop. The court proceedings is shown as the binder of different chapters and verses from Thackeray’s life that begin from his introduction as a cartoonist at the Free Press Journal.

These parts of the film are put well together in Black & White aiding the Art Direction to showcase the Mumbai of the late 60s, 70s and the 80’s with best trams, massive single screen cinema halls, sarafa bazaar, udipi restaurants and flora fountain.

Sudeep Chatterjee does a wonderful job at it and gives a good visual presentation sans the colour to show us the time in the then Bombay of the rise of Bal Thackray until the interval where a marigold flower turns bright saffron just before the interval telling that the following part of the film will be in colour as the timeline changes.

While in the first half, the film looks like a set-up or a prequel to Ram Gopal Verma’s Sarkaar where the protagonist was now more subtle and giving than menacing.

Given that this film is approved at every stage by the Thackrey family and the close aids of the family who have grown in the political alleys with Balasaheb this is more true to his real self and absolutely biographical which makes it disturbing as at different points in the story the protagonist is shown to have sent killers to kill the communist opposition leaders, actively commanded people to create ruckus in the city and boasted of being like hitler.

It’s extremely disturbing that a mans who is worshipped by it’s followers had no qualms about being wrong and undemocratic in anyway which this film release is to promote among it’s karyakartas or sainiks and nothing more.

It gets very very boring after they have already established who Thackeray is and why is he doing it, which too they could not establish well, there’s not one scene to show that everyone else is like a tyrant on the Marathi Manoos except a cartoon strip style animation.

The film becomes monotonous and puts together scenes from news articles and youtube videos together which doesnt really engage you. It neither involves you nor does it care about you after a certain point. It just keeps telling you incidents after another to show what a powerful man the Shiv Sena Supremo was and how he didn’t care about the democracy of India or anyone else and everyone either respected him or was scared of him so no one really did anything against any of it.

This chest thumping saga of autocracy and proud brute force is an orientation film for Shiv Sena inductees and nothing else and in some way for the party to stay relevant among its diminishing following.

The art direction and the music work till a certain level, the story is real and biographical but very very plain without any arc or act structure despite being almost 2 hour 30 minutes long. The actors do well and do their parts well.

It’s a good propaganda movie, possibly like the ones Hitler made, but that doesn’t make it a good movie for the audience.

I am giving it 2.5 stars for getting the story right, good cinematography, art direction, Make-up and music combined.