Shell-shocked. That was what I was after watching the biggest film of the year. What really was that? A man, a superman, a ghost, a god? Rajnikanth does have that kind of an effect on you. Especially if you are not a Tamilian, or you haven’t seen a film of his for over 20 years.
Rajni is a phenomenon – we’ve all heard that. He probably deserves a couple of hundred theses written on him. It still might not explain his incredible sway over audiences, apparently the world over. In Sivaji, he plays nothing but himself – El Mariachi, Neo, Superman, Stephen Chow in Kung Fu Hustle, all rolled into one. There is seemingly nothing he cannot do. Halt a bullet in its trajectory, beat up a hundred goons single-handedly, fly into the air a la Matrix, die and then come back to life.
As Indians we are used to exaggeration – we are familiar with macho heroes, be it AB or MGR, beating up the villains to a pulp. We watch it in all seriousness, suspending disbelief. The difference here is, I am truly not sure if I am meant to watch it in seriousness. Isn’t this really a spoof? Isn’t Rajni kind of winking at the audience and saying, ‘Isn’t this cool? I can be what I want and do what I want – this is a movie,’ with a kind of awareness of the ridiculousness of it all?
Sivaji, an NRI returns to
For a movie that is touted as the most expensive Indian film ever made, the production values are not all that hot. The songs and the dream sequences look like a lot of money has gone into them; but otherwise, it’s just average on the looks variety. And I was quite disappointed with the music. Rajni himself looks a bit podgy and his Manish Malhotra clothes don’t do much for him.
But then, the ‘Rajni style’ stays intact. 20 years ago, he made flipping a cigarette into your mouth THE thing to do, for 12 year old boys. This time, they get to choose between flicking a deflected chewing gum into your mouth (the cigarette is too politically incorrect, I guess), drumming on your head, wearing sunglasses at the back of your head or flicking a 1 Re coin from hand to hand and then right into your pocket. And of course, saying ‘cool’ at the end of it all.
All in all, Sivaji is definitely worth watching if you have never watched a Rajni film or haven’t watched one in a long time. It gives you a glimpse into a movie world quite different from any other. You may leave the theatre a lifelong fan. Or you may vow never to subject yourself to this again.