A retelling of J Jayalalithaa's life would be incomplete without a mention of the late actor-politician MG Ramachandran, or MGR, as he was popularly known. The former chief minister of Tamil Nadu had played an integral role in engineering Jayalalithaa's rise in politics. Now, it can be confirmed that the makers of Thalaivi - featuring Kangana Ranaut as the protagonist - have zeroed in on South actor Arvind Swami to step into the shoes of MGR. Last seen in Bollywood in Dear Dad (2016), Swami is best remembered for his roles in Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992) and Bombay (1995).
Says a trade source, "MGR and Jayalalithaa starred in 28 box-office hits between 1965 and 1973. While the makers needed a worthy actor to do justice to his role, another criterion was that the artiste be fluent in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Arvind satisfied both criteria. The unit will kick off Thalaivi's shoot with Kangana from the first week of November in Mysore, and Arvind will join her on November 15."
In charting Jayalalithaa's journey from her teenage years, the AL Vijay-directed and Shailesh R Singh-produced venture will shed light on how MGR became her mentor as she forayed into politics through his party, AIADMK. During her reign as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, she had famously said, "One-third of my life was dominated by my mother, the other by MGR."
Confirming the development, producer Vishnu Induri says, "We wanted someone who has a pan-India appeal, and resembles MGR. Arvind Swami perfectly suited the role. His and Kangana's on-screen pair will be fresh. He took lot of time to sign on the dotted line because he wanted to be sure that he could devote enough time to prep for the role. He is a perfectionist."