Telugu director Nag Ashwin will soon be making a Telugu-Tamil bilingual biopic on the life of late legendary southern actor Savitri. Ashwin won accolades for his Telugu directorial debut Yevade Subramanyam.
“The film has been titled Mahanati, and it’ll be a magnum opus period film set in the golden era. With massive set pieces, the film will be unlike anything we’ve explored in Indian cinema. I’ve just finished the script and should finalise the cast soon,” said Ashwin.
Asked why a biopic on Savitri and not on any other popular actor, he said: “There have been countless actresses over the last 80 years in Telugu cinema but none have earned the title of Mahanati, and even today it has solely been reserved for Savitri.”
Watch the song Anatha Bhranthi Yena from Devadasu:
Born on January 4, 1936, Savitri made her acting debut in 1950 Telugu-Tamil drama Samarasam, and went on to star in several classics such as Devadasu, Missamma, Penin Perumai, Pasa Malar, Bhale Ramudu, Thodi Kodallua, Mayabazaar and Gundamma Katha.
Besides donning the greasepaint, Savitri also directed a few films such as Chinnari Papalu, Chiranjeevi and Mathru Devatha. She was even a popular playback singer.
Ashwin feels it’s time to revisit and understand why Savitri was considered a legend.
“From penniless origin to the first female superstar, her life is quite a story. We are in that moment in time where it’s been long enough that the legends have left us, that we will have to revisit them and understand why they are legends,” he said.
Watch the song Yemito Ee Maaya from Telugu film Missamma here:
Although Telugu audiences haven’t experienced the concept of a biopic, Ashwin is nevertheless confident.
“The story and the character of Savitri is so script like, it has got its emotional thread so strong that I’m very confident that audiences will relate to it. I feel stories need to have a certain value to be made into cinema and this story has value on so many levels - historic and emotional,” he said.
Ashwin spent the last six months in research - reading articles, books, meeting old journalists and actors.
“There was so much drama in her life. She lived her life fully and I will be as honest as possible in my attempt to recreate it,” he said.
Though there was tragedy in Savitri’s life, Ashwin wants his story to be a celebration of the veteran.
“She was a comedian, prankster and the funniest person. I want the story to be a celebration but not tragic or serious. I want to enjoy and celebrate this amazing legend,” he added.