Director: Nag Ashwin
Cast: Keerthy Suresh as Savitri, Dulquer Salmaan as Gemini Ganesan, Samantha as Maduravani, Vijay Deverakonda as Anthony
Mahanati is the biopic of arguably the greatest actress of Telugu cinema, Savitri, who ruled Tollywood in the 1960s. Her emphatic screen presence and charming beauty along with her acting prowess made her the biggest superstar of her times. Savitri was one of the most celebrated actresses by the then Telugu audience but there was much more in her life beyond what the audience used to see on the screen.
Keeping the star actress in her aside, she was a great human being and a powerful woman who faced many challenges in every phase of her life. A biopic on such an actress must be a tough task for not a talented young filmmaker like Nag Ashwin. He was well supported by the technical team and the actors to make Mahanati a well-made biopic.
Mahanati starts off showing that Savitri (Keerthy Suresh) in her mid-40s, being admitted into a hospital in Karnataka and she goes into the coma. On the other hand, Madhuravani (Samantha) is an aspiring journalist who gets to write a story on Savitri who's been in the coma for one year by then. Madhuravani and a photographer of the newspaper, Vijay Anthony (Vijay Devarakonda) meet a cameraman who begins to tell about his first meeting with Savitri during the shoot of Mayabazar. He also shows a letter written by Savitri to him in which she mentions about Shankarayya.
A puzzled Madhuravani goes to Savitri's house where Savitri's aunt starts telling the story of Savitri to her son. The story moves to 1942 when Savitri was a 7-year-old kid. She makes friends with Susheela (Shalini Pandey) and as they grow old they both start to act in dramas. On being known as cinema is the future, Savitri's uncle KV Chowdary (Rajendra Prasad) takes her to Chennai where they meet Gemini Ganesan (Dulquer Salman).
Gemini takes a few photographs of her and sends them back to their village as she is too young to act in movies. But after one year she gets offers from the film industry because of the photos captured by Gemini. After a few troubles, she signs two movies (1 in Tamil and 1 in Telugu) and Gemini happens to be her co-star in the Tamil film. They both get closer in the process of Savitri learning Tamil for her movie and one fine day, Gemini proposes to her and reveals that he is already married to Alimelu (Malavika Nair) and has two kids as well.
A heartbroken Savitri avoids him for a few days but one day they both get married. She attains a superstardom after her marriage but her life takes drastic turns afterward. What made her an alcohol addict and made a superstar like her to face the wrath of the destiny forms the rest of the story.
Mahanati was received well by both the critics and the audience. Though there were few controversies around the film before and after the release, the film emerged as a big blockbuster at the box office.