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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sivaji Review

Rajini enters meekly compared to other openings he has had in some movies, but it strikes harder than before, well, he looks younger.

Sivaji is a Shankar movie through and through. The Super star’s image and style has fed the grand imagination of Shankar and his team to the fullest.

The story is like any other Shankar story. A social issue, a love interest, a worthy villain and dreamy songs to fill in.

NRI Rajini wants to build educational institutes and hospitals that offer free services. Imagine that. There are unexpected hurdles that make this dream a nightmare. Sivaji passes them one by one compromising on his ‘I-will-sign-a-zillion–papers-if-needed’ vow. But falls to ground when the all-powerful Educationist cum Hospital owner villain hits him hard, leaving Sivaji with just one rupee. Sivaji tosses the coin in the air to determine if he needs to be a good guy or a smart guy, and that also decides how the second half goes.

In the end he becomes modern day Robin hood amidst difficulties, even overcoming death.

If you have seen enough Shankar movies all the sequences are familiar to you. Arjun’s visits to Manisha’s village in Mudhalvan is extended in Sivaji when his family makes visits to Shreya’s house to be ‘Familiarized’. The sequences in Indian about how at each level corruption prevails is presented as it is. As usual the relationship with the villain starts smoothly before getting stormy. And there are more Shankar trademarks to pick from.

If you have forgotten how Rajini used to act, with his innocent reactions, and funny facial expressions, Sivaji would remind you of that. The youthfulness that was missing in the past two movies, in looks and action has come back for the good. Some close ups make you feel sorry for him, but then he is known for his style and not for the looks. So Sivaji is all about style for Rajini. A chewing gum replaces the cigarette, but the style remains. (Chewing gum too causes Cancer Mr. Anbumani)

The movie stands out for one thing, the grand presentation of the songs and some sequences, but for them Sivaji is any other Shankar movie you have seen. The sets are mind blowing to say the least. They are mostly modeled after Las Vegas casinos. And Shankar’s sense for details shines from cobblestones to the colored hair. ‘Athiradik kara machan’ has been shot like no other songs that we have ever seen. Even some Hollywood musicals won’t match up to it.

Shreya looks apt for the roll. Nianthara has slimmed down for the first song. Vivek replaces Vadivelu and makes his debut as all too familiar hero’s aide in Shankar’s movies. He delivers some of the ‘punch dialogues’ for the Superstar. Suman plays excellently as the worthy adversary. The dothy suits him better than the erstwhile bell-bottoms we are used to see him in.

Sivaji is grand. Does Shankar make an impact with his message? No. He might even be trivializing these great social causes by presenting them in a cinematic style. Shankar’s thirst for a societal change is only as real as Rajini’s youthful looks. Spending so much money on presenting a message about poverty makes no big sense.

At the end we have seen yet another Shankar movie with Rajini in it. Could anyone else other than Rajini have handled such grandeur is the question waiting to be answered in the next Shankar movie I guess.