“Don’t try this one Archu, this is not your sector, you will do no good here”, I could hear my inner self constantly discouraging me as I was evilly plotting a movie review. It puzzles me myself as to why I should always take this satirical attitude of a critic when it comes to movies. If the first 15 minutes fail to captivate my interest, I brew up some story of my own as the one to follow, convince myself so and walk off or doze off. So much for the patience of Taurus that I brag about! Unfortunately, my taste lies somewhere near the award winning types, I mean those ones that bag lots of shields and applauses but not last in the theatre for more than a week. If a movie has appealed to me once, it would appeal again and again and again and again and I end up watching it every time it is cast on any of the television networks. If it failed to appeal the first time, it’s as good as not made! As for heroes and heroines, none of them ever seemed to fantasize me longer than their market value. Having said that, the one thing that still draws me to the theatres is songs, music!
With this kind of a profile on movie front, I should be the last person on earth to do a review. But temptation spared whom? Great pious rishies of our ancient history have succumbed to momentary desires themselves, how much resistance could I possibly have? Not a single ounce! Much to the plight and hatred of die-hard fans, here I venture to make what I call a so-called analysis of ‘Shivaji - The BOSS’.
Expectation was thrust in from all corners. Shivaji fever was high (it still is), particularly in Tamil Nadu where it was fatally high. Rajni by himself has a persona that lures people to the theatre in mobs. Director Shankar is known for his painstaking efforts in bringing out a movie big and grand. Legendry A.R.Rehman needs no introduction around the world. He can rock you, shake you, soothe you, and hypnotize you with his music which is more potent than the strongest drugs. When three such forces join hands into making of ‘Shivaji’, it’s no wonder that expectation exceeded all escape velocities.
All the energy built up during the wait was released along with the release of the movie on June 15th, 2007. How many theatres and how many shows worldwide! The great mathematician, Ramanujam himself would have difficulties in trying to estimate the number of pairs of eyes that watched the movie on the first day, let alone the number of times they did. It was a cursed day for the traffic constables who had postings in junctions close to the theatres, contemplating riot at any moment. Shivaji was unleashed!
I wanted to see the movie, I knew I will but wasn’t desperate or craving. One can never hear the dialogues in Rajni’s movie on the first day for it’s always deafened by the screams and whistles at every punch dialogue by the superstar. I decided to wait a month or two when the hype subsides a little, when getting a ticket at a nominal price is somewhere close to remotely possible. As days went by, not having seen Shivaji became a prestige issue. Every old buddy who phoned up re-iterated the same question “Haven’t seen Shivaji yet? Shame! Shame!” My cousin (heaven bless her) saved my dignity by reserving tickets for our family last weekend through a childhood pal whose dad happened to own the theatre. And thus I found myself seated in a balcony seat at an unbelievable price of 40 bucks on a Sunday evening ready for the show to begin.
The first 15 minutes came and went and I didn’t find myself drawn in. But my 7 year old cousin was already clapping hard at Rajni’s entry. He claims to be a fan of Rajni and I wonder how many works of Rajni could he have possibly seen at such a young age. Well, there must really be something about superstar apart from his acting, style and luck which keeps him superstar always and I wish I could just discover that. This being “Shivaji”, I allowed myself an allowance of 30 min more and I did place the story as one that was tailored for the hero, the typical Rajni movie! Shankar is visible only in the song sequences wherein grandeur was pushed in for the sake of it and expenditure was made as if it should be. Rehman, I am sorry, has disappointed me except for ‘Sahana Pookal’. The first half of the movie is all about Rajni pursuing his lady love thru various comical attempts alternatively having the villain brush him on the wrong side in his vision of constructing an university for the poor and needy (that reminds me of earlier ‘Gentleman’ by Shankar). Vivek has played the second hero as he tags along with Rajni in most of the scenes, except in between the duets ;). Our heroine, Shreya, who remains clad in half-sari with protective parents to emphasize that she is a typical Tamil girl that the hero seeks, somehow willingly flaunts her curves in the song sequences. She speaks of astrology going against the hero and he dismisses it and yet the predictions nearly materialize at the climax (‘Baba?’)
The hero loses all his money and is left with one rupee (nearly ‘Arunachalam’). He then works out a way to earn it back from the pockets of the villain and grows mighty rich, nobly using his wealth for the welfare of the public (there there ‘Padayappa’). The movie is complete with the hero-going-to-jail-and-getting-tortured (‘Gentleman’ + ‘Kaadalan’) and finally he is resuscitated from near death, and triumphs over the villian and all that is wrong in the world. My parents who have been doctors for years admitted that until ‘Shivaji’ they never realized that a dead heart could be made to pump again by CPR after all the time from when the hero dies to when he is transported, shifted and stuff. Thanks to ‘Shivaji’ for the enlightening!
On the positive side, Rajni for one looks younger in this movie. Make-up man has done a very good job. Software folks have proved their techy skills in making Rajni appear ‘fair’ in ‘Oru koodai sunlight’ song. Fights and gimmicks keeps our eyes wide open throughout the movie but once the movie is over and screens are down, we tend to scratch our heads trying remember what we were wondering at. I would say that this is not one of the best efforts of Shankar or Rehman but atleast Rajni’s fans wouldn’t be disappointed. In short, Shivaji - a feast to the eyes that gets vanished before digestion -a bright colorful mirage!!!!