Movie Review: Sivaji – The Boss

Title: Sivaji -The Boss
Starring: Rajnikanth, Shreya, Suman, Vivek
Language: Tamil (there is a Telugu version of the film too)
Music: AR Rahman
Director: K. Shankar

If you are a nerd who writes software (like many desis) this film gives you some reasons to feel “cool”. In this film, Sivaji (played by Rajnikanth, of course) is a US-returned, (hold your breath!) computer system software architect!! He returns to India to use his wealth to build free educational institutions and hospitals. He is concerned about the fact that “Rich get richer and poor get poorer”. The local goon (played by yester-year hero Suman) who is very corrupt runs hospitals and schools and uses his political clout and “goonda-giri” to stop Sivaji. The film is about how Sivaji goes about achieving his goals despite seemingly insurmountable odds. The film highlights corruption that occurs at various levels of government.

Hats off to Shankar and team for a hot, contemporary theme. The rest is “masala” all the way, enjoyable nevertheless. Shankar who is also known for lavish sets and technical finesse continues to experiment in Sivaji. The stunt sequences are a combination of fights scenes straight out of Jackie Chan and Matrix-like films. Rajnikanth sports so many different hair-dos throughout the film until he finally settles for a bald look! At 57, the man still remains slim and trim and with makeup he is still able to pull it off.

The songs are picturized in lavish (often garish) sets. There is one song (in hip-hop style!) picturized in front of the beautiful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain which features Rajnikanth in a blond wig, an African wig, among others! This song apparently involved some “skin grafting” computer graphics special effects which make Rajnikanth appear white!

The customary intro’ song that is a characteristic of all Rajnikanth films is a complete disaster in this film. “Balleilakka” as the song goes is cacophony to say the least. The hordes of extras in the sequence further accentuates cacophony, a “whipped up to shape” Nayantara not withstanding. The film crew completely went over-board with this song. Of all the songs in the film, the duet “Sahana” (despite Udit Narayan) is easily the best. Rahman seems to be at his best composing such duets. The other song that is catchy is “Vaaji Vaaji”, a nice blend of standard dance music and a Khawali-type beat. Hariharan whose style of singing is more suited to melody, does a great job of this song.

The first half of the film is focused entirely on comedy. Vivek is brilliant as the hero’s side-kick (uncle actually!). Punch lines that are a characteristic of all Rajnikanth films is this time given a nice twist — Vivek delivers a few instead of the hero. The second half is action packed and the climax is a little too long.

Rajnikanth is in his elements when he appears with the bald look. The script gives plenty of opportunity for his trademark histrionics. Cigarettes are out, bubble gum is in. After some gimmicks with a one-rupee coin, it lands in his shirt pocket! It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t grown up on his films why these gimmicks work so well with the audience.

Indian “masala” cinema is all about make-believe. Rajnikanth takes make-believe to an altogether different plane. In many ways his films are like a desi incarnation of James Bond. A hero whose looks common man can identify with, one who constantly epitomizes the victory of good over evil, thrown in with unique mannerisms and distinctive style, and a flair for comedy, together has earned Rajnikanth a larger than life screen persona — a powerful combination that the box office can’t seem to get enough off. Sivaji is one more example of this.

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