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Movie Critic
Jul 19, 2011
Review has spoilers

Balasaheb Thackeray ( Bal Keshav Thackeray ) is a personality for whom Mumbaikar Marathis have a special place in the heart , and I being a Mumbaikar Marathi feel the same . Where would the Mumbaikar Marathis be without the Thackerays….? Balasaheb's father Prabodankar Thackeray was prominent in the samyukta Maharashtra ( united Maharashtra ) movement that brought Bombay into Maharashtra , and Balasaheb changed the city's name to Mumbai...need I say more ?

The movie begins with Balasaheb working for Free press journal as cartoonist , but he is made to realise by his fellow Marathi colleague that other than them no one else is Marathi in that office inspite of it being in the capital of Maharashtra . His attitude to express himself freely by cartoons is tried to be curbed by his boss but Balasaheb frees himself from the job in typical Thackeray style ; he presents a cartoon showing himself kicking his boss on the backside to his boss....

As Balasaheb roams the streets of Mumbai , he realises that everywhere the Marathi manoos is being squeezed out by non Marathis . He decides to start a magazine to bring the marathis together for getting their due rights in Mumbai , but money for that is found from a money lender only after some search because many do not believe that Balasaheb's magazine could work . However Balasaheb's fiery writings become popular among Mumbaikar Marathis and Balasaheb becomes well known .

Many Marathis begin to come to Balasaheb with their grievances and Balasaheb advocates the path of violent agitation to get them their jobs in places where he feels non marathis are unjustly grabbing them . He feels that if made aware of injustices incurred on them , the Marathi people are fighters and this fighting potential can be utilised to get them their rights . As his popularity grows , the time has come to start a proper organisation to fight for their demands . But his father says that it should not be called an organisation but rather a 'sena' ( army ) , and so is born the Shiv Sena in honour of Shivaji the legendary medieval Maratha warrior king .

The Shiv Sena's first targets are south Indians and Thackeray coins the slogan 'pungi bajao , lungi hatao' . Shiv Sena takes the path of violent agitation attacking south Indians . But Shiv Sena's real opponent is deputy PM Morarji Desai , the same person who had violently opposed his father's 'samyukta Maharashtra' agitation to bring Mumbai into Maharashtra earlier . One can say he is the villain of the movie if anybody is . He comes to Mumbai and orders his car to drive on Shiv sainiks protesting to bring Belgaum into Maharashtra from Karnataka , thus killing the Shiv sainiks . The incident turns Thackeray away from the path of peaceful negotiations , and anyone opposing intake of Marathis into jobs receives a slap on his face as the manager of Air India discovers on opposing him .

When Indira Gandhi imposes emergency on India , there is pressure on Thackeray to merge his party into Congress , but Thackeray refuses even though his party is likely to be banned . But Indira Gandhi comes to Mumbai and a meeting is arranged between them . Thackeray counters her charges of regionalism by saying that whenever he hails , he hails the nation first and his state only later by hailing 'Jai Hind !! Jai Maharashtra !!' His party is struck off the banning list .

But when Indira loses power , the winner of the election is his arch enemy Morarji Desai whose Janata party storms to power . Morarji encourages his party workers to throw stones on Sena Bhawan , the iconic headquarters of the Shiv Sena . But Thackeray is now aware of a new problem on the horizon . Muslim boys celebrate on Pakistan's victories in cricket matches and cricket is a game very close to Balasaheb's heart....he at first tries to build bridges with the muslim community by organising meetings in their mohallas , but the riots in Bhiwandi outside Mumbai convince him that these people are not ready to change their ways .

Balasaheb decides to turn to Hindu nationalism and coins the slogan 'garv sey kaho hum Hindu hai' ( say proudly that we are Hindus ) . When Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad comes with Indian cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar to ask for cricketing ties to be restored between the two countries , Balasaheb rejects the idea saying he cannot forget the Indian soldiers dying on the border . His sainiks pour inflammables on the pitch of {censored}hede stadium putting paid to any idea of India and Pakistan playing each other .

He proudly acknowledges in court that his boys had a hand destroying the babri masjid , telling the lawyer that hindus believe that Lord Ram was born in the same place which was desecrated by foreign invader Babar who was born in Uzbekistan . As muslims take revenge for this by burning Radhabai chawl in Mumbai , Shiv sainiks start a full scale riot . But the riot has been kind of sidelined in the movie , as the violence has been only hinted at by scenes of Shiv sainiks having police co operation in them being shown but the actual riot is not shown .

Retribution for the riots is taken by the muslim mafia by bomb blasts in Mumbai , and Thackeray's life is under threat . But he refuses to remain home under police protection and undertakes a whirlwind tour of Maharashtra , coming to power in the state in subsequent elections . The movie ends at this high point in Thackeray's political career .

The movie in undoubtedly dominated by Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Bal Thackeray , and the movie heavily depends on his splendid acting skills just like the Shiv Sena depended on Balasaheb . And he delivers with aplomb . His wife Meenatai Thackeray is played by Amrita Rao , and she brings out how Meenatai was so important in stabilizing Balasaheb's household by her serene acting . Rajesh Khera effectively brings out the contemptuous attitude of Morarji Desai by his performance .

Background music is good and effectively dramatic in intense situations Colours and photography are decent . Dialogues have been written well and their timing in the movie is good .

Verdict---Decent .

Three stars out of five

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