July 3, 2007

Sivaji @ Silicon Valley !!

July 03, 2007 Posted by Vijay No comments
The last weekend, was my first weekend in Silicon Valley, in what is (currently) my second visit to the U.S. Not too confusing a line if you read it carefully, but unlike my Confucius nature, there was no confusion for my cousin as to what movie he had been dying to watch since long. He had driven down from Sacramento for a function of our mutual cousin's (@ Fremont, CA), and we decided to go for Sivaji, the boss at Camera 3 Cinemas , San Jose. Till date, Sivaji, The Boss is the most expensive movie (over Rs. 90 crores, i.e. 22.5 million USD) ever in Indian Movie History. And Rajni, the hero, with this movie, became the highest paid actor in Indian Cinema as of today (over Rs. 17 crore, 4.2 million USD !!). To think that his fee, amounted to 19% of the movie expense can be validated by his unbelievable cult following in South India, Japan and Singapore.

The hype that it had created was so huge, that it stole the thunder from the Yash Raj Production, Jhoom-Barabar-Jhoom, starring the Big B. There was also a lot of skepticism because of the hype , whether the movie will do as well as expected. Music by A.R. Rehman should have helped boost the movie, but was that enough ? Sankar, accomplished director of movies like Anniyan, Mudhalvan (Nayak in Hindi), Gentleman had to hit the right balance between Rajni's irrepressible style and his own directorial skills, with the message of the all pervasive black money issue in Indian Society.

In the past 6-7 years, all Rajni movies have been loads of style, and less of substance. Still, be it Padayappa or Chandramukhi, Rajni's films pulled it off well at the box office. His style has been so over-emphasised, that his acting skills have been all but forgotten. Which is quite sad. But hey, if he can still pull off blockbusters at the box office as the hero of a mainstream Indian movie at the age of 57, who cares ? Watching Sivaji, reminded me of Chandramukhi, which I saw couple of years back in Tamil Nadu, with another cousin of mine. Lot of style in Sivaji too, the coin flipping horizontally, then vertically and landing in his palm. Then the chewing gum going in his mouth, after rebounding from his palm, were all there (Hard to imagine eh ?).

But what took the cake, were the songs picturisation, which were all international class, with the heroine grabbing all the attention in them. Shreya has done a remarkable job for the small role she has portrayed, unlike other running-around-trees heroines. Rajni was clearly struggling to match her graceful moves in the songs, but tried to make up with his own inimitable style. The songs were a delight to watch, and would probably have cost atleast a third of the production cost. But it sure was worth it, and Sankar must probably consider selling it exclusively as pop albums maybe.

The movie, based on how money laundering has resulted in black money flooding the Indian Economy, seemed too simple. There weren't any surprises as far as the storyline was concerned. Rajni plays an NRI returned to India, hoping to build institutions for free education, and a business honcho tries to prevent him in this, fearing his own decline. He becomes the victim of red tapism and corruption, and finally decides to use the loopholes in the system , to make good use of the black money. Vivek as his sidekick showed glimpses of his comic timing, but he has done much better in other movies, one feels.

The film as a whole, can probably be seen once, for the sheer picturisation, and most importantly the Rajni factor. What took the cake was undoubtedly the bald look, with the long beard in the last half hour of the movie, where he avenges the villain. One then realises, why Rajni pulls off style even at 57. The look was perfect on him, and his finger tap on the bald head, was something a lot of people may scoff at, but not many would discount it becoming a trend soon. I guess that is Rajni for you. He will make his style statement, come what may. Be it the 15 minute laka-laka-laka-laka in Chandramukhi, or the fabulous bald headed look in Sivaji. No wonder, he still is the Boss, atleast in the Tamil Film Industry !

Overall, a nice entertainer, loaded with greatly picturised songs, and action sequences. A graceful Shreya, and a stylish Rajni, but the film still lacks the twists of a Mudhalvan or Gentleman that Sankar is so good at giving the audiences. Maybe he wanted to take a break, and give the limelight to the boss, and let him make his screen presence felt. And it sure does seem to have worked !