The bus conductor who became an actor.
The actor who started off as a villain.
A Villain who became a hero.
A Hero who became a star.
A Star who became the superstar.
A Superstar who became the Robot.
The Robot that helped us rediscover the actor Rajni again.
Here is one person, the very epitome of simplicity in real life, who becomes larger than life in reel life, a fact that successive directors and producers have milked away to glory, in the process burying the actor within Rajni and giving him roles that kind of enhanced his superstar-dom. On the other hand, you had Shankar with his patented one-man-against-the-world, corruption, evil etc. The Shankar- Rajni combo had previously come together to give us Shivaji – The Boss, a movie whose message was lost in the attempt to try to live up to Rajni’s image. This time however, the combination hits the jackpot giving us the most enjoyable as well as the most technically advanced movie while at the same time
When was the last time a Rajni movie opened without someone like singing his praises or people asking who he is and Rajni responding with a “punch” dialog. This movie opens very sedately, Rajni being presented as a scientist, Dr. Vaseegaran, hard at work, creating a robot, ignoring everything else including his girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. The robot duly created, can do anything and everything, but cannot make the distinction between right and wrong, pointed out by Rajni’s resentful and jealous mentor, Danny Denzongpa, who then refuses to authorize the robot. The robot, Chitti, which also resembles Rajni, is then taught to feel, so that he can be more human like and as Danny says, the movie starts off then. Chitti 2.0, now develops feelings for Aish and after being corrupted by Danny, kidnaps her culminating in a fantastic finale that is a blast literally and figuratively.
Rajni carries off the most challenging role he has had to face over the last 10 years, with an ease that ought to teach a lesson or two to those who proclaim that they are the next superstar (Yes, I am looking at you Vijay & Simbu). He has to play 3 roles, each as far removed from one another. An everyday man, a simple man, Dr. Vasi, an innocent, robotic Chitti and a menacing, overpowering, condescending, sneering, haughty, Chitti 2.0. Needless to say, Rajni steals the show as the baddie. His every action, dialog delivery, dialogs itself, convey a sense of menace combined with owerpowering arrogance. He jokes around, looks playful but once he laughs that menacing laugh, everyone knows that nothing good can come out of it. As the scientist, he is very believable, conveying frustration, pride, and angst in equal measure at his own creation. And Rajni’s comedic sense and timing have never really been in question ever since Thillu Mullu. The Maari Aatha scene is like total awesomely hilarific
Shankar. Wattay man. A master of producing larger than life spectacle on the big screen, his dream project really comes to life. No expense has been spared. With the best technicians from all around the world involved in it, its a movie that is comparable to any Hollywood movie (on the technical aspect, Rajni’s presence alone ensures that it leaves Hollywood movies way behind). The screenplay is fairly cracking and the story hardly ever sags (except for the 10 mins mosquito hunting period). Shankar deserves all the credit for the movie. Convincing someone to part with 170 crores on a sci-fi movie is no joke and the expectations are superman level huge. In fact, this is more of a Shankar movie than a typical Rajni movie and yet, no one minds. There are the typical Shankar touches throughout the movie, particularly noticeable during the songs. Bombastic sets, colorful props, a whole techno feel are some of the aspects of it and Sabu Cyril would have had a ball constructing the sets. Similarly, the song locations are simply astouding. Kaadhal Annukkal, shot in the middle of a desert, that also has a river running by it is fantastic while Kilimanjaro song shot overlooking Machu Picchu is so awesome that you want to get onto the next plane to Peru to visit the place.
Ash looks gorgeous as usual and that is her primary purpose in the movie. (In the initial scenes tho, a heavily made-up Rajni looked younger than a heavily made-up Ash and that really is something). Danny plays a small though crucial role. Santhanam & Karunas can kindly go and stick their head in the nearest public lavatory. That pretty much describes their role. But who needs the other artistes, when you have over 100 Rajnis on screen kicking ass, brought to life, with the best special effects ever seen in an Indian movie. The Rajni snake, power-drill, expanding-reducing ball, giant robot are all way indescribable. (I am running short of adjectives here)
A lot of criticism has been directed towards ARR’s music, a fact that amazes me. Pudhiya Manidha is so brilliantly composed and sung, it literally leaps off the screen. Kadhal Annukkal and Arima are other highlights. The background music, while not among ARR’s best, is still awesome. (Did someone notice that he has basically used a fast version of the Gendha Phool song from Delhi 6, in multiple locations).
The fact that one faces huge crowds, for what is essentially a film in a language spoken by 6.5 crore people, in a part of the western world speaks for the star power and charisma of India’s greatest entertainers. Rajni, total respect.
PS: Surely, one Rajni movie where he plays the baddie throughout is the least one can dream and hope for
PPS: Rajni’s costumes looked absolutely gorgeous in the movie. Worth mentioning.