Ah Finally! I get to post in this space, I get some motivation to do what I loved the most. It’s been close to 250 days since my last post way back in October. Who better than ‘The Boss’ to kick off a fresh start to blogging again. To many in the west, the term ‘Boss’ is associated with Bruce Springsteen as he was popularly called the ‘Boss in concert’. When it comes to desis, ‘The Boss’ refers to the most powerful actor in Indian cinema, I’m gonna go one step ahead and say the most powerful actor in Asia!. Tis’ true for no actor comes close to commanding respect of fans worldwide. With the movie(Sivaji) being released in 27 countries and close to 2900 prints, making INR 150cr($37.5 million) in only three weeks at the box office! Sivaji truly elucidates the power of Rajini‘s fan base.
There’s still a mad rush outside cinema halls as people throng to watch the costliest movie ever made in the history of Indian cinema. Sivaji is a Tamil flick being dubbed and released in other states of South India, but the stunning fact is that the movie is making money in states like Maharashtra, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh. It’s not just the Tamil speaking crowd in these areas but locals as well, and that’s even more surprising. With almost all news channels doing ‘Sivaji‘ specials, and dedicated 30 min slots for reviews, stills, promos and trade buzz the hype grows exponentially. Everybody now wants to be part of this juggernaut and are trying to be associated in some way or the other, be it tickets, t-shirts or other merchandise, trivia and just about anything you can think of to make a fast buck.
The movie also brings together the biggest names in Indian cinema in Director Shankar, Music by A.R.Rahman, K.V.Anand behind the camera, Thota Tarani behind the sets, Manish Malhotra’s costumes, Peter Haynes’ fights and finally the trio of Prabhudeva, Raju Sundaram and Ragahava Lawrence as choreographers. The rising starlet of South Indian Cinema, Shriya Saran as the female lead Suman as the bad guy, and satirist Vivek as the role of Sivaji’s sidekick find themselves playing meaty roles in the movie. The movie also features many prominent South Indian actors but then Rajini takes it all. Right from the title to the credits it’s the sheer magic of Rajini’s on screen presence that keeps you glued to the seat. Tickets have been selling like hot cakes and in some areas they’ve been selling a ticket for INR 1500($37.5)! On an average though tickets generally never exceed INR 100($2.5), even in the US tickets are hard to get with most most movie halls displaying sold-out banners. Pricing the tickets at $15 doesn’t help as people are buying them no matter how much they cost. With great difficulty I managed to be part of this spectacle and I must say, its an experience worth the wait and the money spent.
The movie has generated a lot of buzz since early December with stills, and bits of information being leaked onto the internet ever since. With big names being associated, expectations have been rocketing sky high as fans patiently awaited the release. Rumors were that owing to over expectation the movie may fizz out at the box office but then all those have n=been put aside now as ‘Sivaji‘ is on course to become the highest grosser in Indian Cinema. One thing ought to be taken into consideration that it is a regional movie and only 6.3% of the Indian population speak Tamil, yet the movie outperforms all Bollywood flicks by a mile. For those of you who have never watched a Rajini movie, this hype may seem real weird and unwarranted but unless you experience it you’ll never change your opinion. The sets are spectacular and the songs have been shot spectacularly, but that is all put aside by the style, mannerisms, dialogs well in short rajinisms.I don’t find the need to discuss the plot here as you can find it elsewhere, but what I would like to speculate on is the power of cinema. A lot of hard work, style and dedication goes into making a good movie but when we speak of a great movie, it’s a different ball game altogether. A good movie is one that leaves you with a nice feeling when you come out of the cinema hall, a great movie is one that leaves a lasting impression on you for years to come. When it comes to their movies, Rajini and Shankar both excel at it and that is why you find yourself drawn to the cinema hall again and again.
Shankar is a genius, he knows the pulse of the audience, he knows how to make movies that cater to all sections of society. There are those high-flying, gravity-defying fight sequences that have the front-benchers and fans roaring, there are oodles of impromptu comedy that will have the balcony crowd in splits, there is the pain and agony of failure when ‘Aadhiseshan‘ hands over ‘Sivaji‘ a coin n asks him to beg alms for a living, sorry aunties as there is no unwanted sentiment like a death(which is turning point in most shankar movies). Shankar’s forte is attacking daily problems like corruption and he sticks to that formula again. Right from ‘Indian’ to ‘Sivaji‘, all Shankar movies show the hero unable to bear the atrocities around him and either a death or an incident act as a catalyst for the hero to fight against the system. There is no death in ‘Sivaji‘ however when he looses all his money and is left with a Re.1 coin, Rajini turns to ‘Simha padam‘ and its non-stop action thereafter. The fights are very well choreographed and the background score blends with every scene. Shankar has taken utmost care to maintain the larger than life image of Rajini with a message oriented opening song, Rajinisms, punch dialogs and tomfoolery while not wading too far away from his subject of how black money, bribes and corrupt officials are feeding of the system like parasites. Like all Shankar movies, Sivaji also finds an innovative way to fight the system which is obviously not in tandem with the law.
Rajini’s last movie was ‘Chandramukhi‘ and that was Rajini in a very mellowed down performance in a non-title role. After the debacle of ‘Baba‘, Rajini probably decided to do this movie with no hype, no image and more important no punch dialogs. Sivaji marks the return of the superstar in a title role and hogs 70% of screen time, Rajini has given up on-screen smoking and therefore he tosses a bubblegum into the air instead. Manish Malhotra has done a fantastic job on the costumes and the looks of ‘Thalaivar‘ as he is fondly called. Rajini sports over 50 differents looks and each of them is equally stunning, be it in the songs(king in ‘Vaaji Vaaji‘, villager in ‘Ballelaka‘, funky in ‘Oru Koodai‘, rockstar in ‘Athiradee‘ ) or in the scenes where he goes from riches to rags and back to riches. I’ve always maintained that what makes a great actor standout from a good actor is the ability to set aside an image and get low on comedy as well as emotion with style. Good actors can dance, fight and mouth a few good dialogues and probably end up with an award. Great actors are the ones who can do heavy emotional scenes by getting absorbed in the character, or tomfoolery and have the moviegoers in splits. This is what separates SRK, Amir Khan, Rajini, Big B, Chiru from the rest like Hrithik, Abhishek, Nag, Mahesh, Vijay, Ajith etc. In the first half Rajini almost emulates Vivek as the comedian trying to woo Shriya and it’s a treat to watch that. The scene wherein he mimics actors like MGR, Kamal Hassan is rib tickling and he performs them with utmost ease. It gets even better as this particular scene is re-shot in telugu where he mimics NTR, ANR and Chiru. The second half is pure style and substance as he bends the rules to achieve his goal. The bald headed ‘Mottai Boss‘ entry was a total shocker and had everyone completly blown away, Rajini is undoubtedly a super-style-star.
- Tossing the bubblegum
- Rotating his sunglasses
- Signing employment papers with both hands
- Playing with the coin before it lands in his pocket
- Rapping his fingers on his bald head
- Guitar fight and the Samurai sword fight
Shriya looks a million dollars as a pucca orthodox tamil girl and suits the role to perfection. A lot has gone into developing that look and it paid off as well. She looks stunning in the songs and Shankar has done his homework to highlight her huge eyes. Vivek is a complete package and at times in the first half seems like Rajini plays second fiddle to him. He has more punch dialogues than Rajini and literally comands screen presence in the first half as he helps Sivaji woo Tamilselvi. He is the more loyal sidekick in the second half but has the best lines. Suman is probably the most underrated actor in the South Indian Industry, but his ray-ban look as ‘Aadhiseshan‘ is a killer. Tall and burly he fits the role of a goonda turned businessman who owns colleges and hospitals that charge exorbitant fees.
- “Sivaji pera ketale chumma adhurudhulla” – “Hearing Sivaji’s name makes you feel the tremors”
- “Kanna panninga dhaan kootama varum, singam single-a dhaan varum” – “Only pigs come in groups, lion comes single”
- “Boss” – “Bachelor of Social Service”
- “Sixkku appuram seven da, Sivajikku appuram yevenda” – “After six there is seven, after Sivaji there is no one.”
- “Kuzhanthaigal paakurathu pogo, sivajikita vendaam go go” – “Kids watch pogo, don’t mess with Sivaji just go go”
- “Chittoor Thaandina Kaatpaadi, Sivajiya cheendinaa Dead Body!” – “If you cross Chittoor you will reach Kaatpaadi, If you tease Sivaji you will become a Deadbody!”
Now there will be balcony rants bout how foolish some scenes were and that was always expected in a Shankar-Rajini film. The songs though shot brilliantly at magnificent locales and sets have no baring with the story line and seem like a separate track. Shankar never believes in using the songs to tell stories and therefore always has larger than life settings for them. Shankar loves technology and prefers using the latest equipment when it comes to film-making, the CGI visuals may seem a tad overdone. The fights also seem to be unwarranted for, but just to keep up with the image of Rajini and all the high flying action may not go well with the so-called posh audiences. The song and fight sequences are purely plug and play like other Shankar and can fit anywhere in the movie, we’re least bothered as they are a visual treat and bear no connection to the story. The scene where Sivaji electrocutes himself and Raghuvaran playing a guest role as a doctor performs CPR on him after 10-15 mins may seem a bit too much.
Frag everything that isn’t right and just sit back to experience the magic of Sivaji, forget the rants, forget that there exists something called logic, watch the movie for what it is, the screaming, dancing, the rejoicing in the aisles, buckets of paper at your feet and a sore throat three hours later. This is what sums up the whole Sivaji experience.