Movie buffs around the world were eagerly awaiting for the release of legendary actress Savitri’s biopic— Mahanati, and the film has finally out in the theatres. According to Nag Ashwin, the director of the film, “it’s a celebration of Savitri’s Life”.
Titled “Mahanati” in Telugu and “Nadigaiyar Thilagam” in Tamil, the film is about the joy and celebration of the great Savitri who ruled the hearts of millions back then, continues to do so now, and will forever remain as the greatest actress of Telugu cinema. “As a storyteller and maker of the film, we want people to appreciate her professional talent and value her for being a beautiful mother and a family person, about her association with people who were part of her life” says Nag Ashwin.
According to producer Priyanka Dutt of Swapna Cinema, the important thing as a filmmaker was to get things right. She says, “Life is big and laden with troubles; awful and wonderful. It was indeed a massive task for us. In this film we have done our best to distil Savitri’s life-story into two-plus hours of quality entertainment.”
Complementing the choice of Keerthy Suresh for the titular role of Savitri, Vijaya Chamundeswari expressed that it was a huge challenge to play this big role on Keerthy’s young shoulders. She said, “I found many qualities in Keerthy that kind of made me feel, yes, she can pull it off. There were so many instances on the set that made not just me but many believe that Keerthy had mannerisms that strike a lot of similarity like Savitri,” adds the filmmaker.
“The legendary actress had immense, diverse talent—she was a director, playback singer, producer, and someone who loved car racing. She even won several trophies for racing. There are so many such beautiful facets of this actor that she deserves to be remembered today,” Nag Ashwin added.
While Keerthy Suresh plays the role of Savitri, Dulquer Salmaan plays the role of Gemini Ganesan. Samantha Akkineni, Naga Chaitanya, and Vijay Devarakonda too play important roles in the film, along with other renowned actors from the southern film industry.
The costumes for the eagerly awaited trilingual Indian biopic were designed by Gaurang Shah, who toured the past of Savitri and interacted with people and industry folks for months during his research. It is a perfect debut for the award-winning Indian textile designer, who is known for his exquisite work that uses jamdani weave to create a unique fusion of fabrics and textures.
Talking about the challenge Gaurang says, “Choosing the right textile, weaving, texturing, and colouring to lend reality to the look of actress Savitri took many months. Over 100 artisans worked relentlessly to ensure the weaving process was uninterrupted as the whole progression took more than a year and a half from the inception of the costumes to the conclusion of the last shoot.” On recreating the vision of Mahanati, the designer stated, “It was a beautiful journey even for me and my team, capturing different moods and sequences in the film. Recreating the sensibilities of the actress, including elements such as the choice of fabric and the textures were immensely satisfying for me as a textile designer.”
Elated about his debut as a costume designer in a film of this scale, Gaurang added, “It was a challenge right from the beginning. What excited me the most was the opportunity to showcase Indian sarees in its fullest grandeur, with utmost simplicity.”
About his approach to perfection and meeting the expectations of Nag Ashwin, Gaurang concludes, “The director wanted me to make satins for specific scenes, but since I wanted all her looks to be of pure handloom, I recreated the satin on the handloom. For instance, I replicated Savitri’s look for Maya Bazaar – which was a heavy Kanjeevaram lehenga and blouse with an organza dupatta. It took us three months to get the colour, design, and fabric woven.”
Talking about the textile designer, Priyanka Dutt reveals, “Gaurang has a unique knack for capturing ancient traditions of craft, antiques, and architecture to create his own signature which is a beautiful blend of past and modernity, using jamdani weaving technique. This skill lent beautiful synergy and made things seamless.”
Presented by Vyjayanthi Movies and produced by Priyanka Dutt of Swapna Cinema, the trilingual film is slated for release on May 9, 2018, across Indian and global theatres.