Ok! So I finally got down to watching the Superstar's movie last night. You want my review? Read the first word. Would I watch it again? But of course. Anyway, I'm now joining the horde and writing my own impressions of the film.
Any communication has to follow the cardinal rule: a single message. The minute you try to focus on two or more things, it gets lost and confused. Shankar has made the cardinal mistake. He's given equal importance to Rajnikanth and to the issue of corruption and black money. Result: see-sawing movie. When I first came out of the hall, my initial reaction was negative. But on the ride home, as I ruminated on the film, I realised the bigger picture. Hence, I can now subscribe to the many reviews that have touted this as being a great film while simultaneously being a bad film.
Shriya was poor, to say the least. She looks mind-blowing and I can't recall a Bollywood heroine in the recent past who has been made to look quite as good. However, she has a wimpy whimpering character, and although Anuradha Sengupta has said that Rajnikanth was stuck in the 80s, I believe it's the potrayal of our Tamil heroines that's stuck in the 80s. An innocent girl who's forever scared and on the verge of tears. Very irritating. And as a result of this whiny character, Rajni himself appeared quite sad when it came to wooing the girl. Some poor comedy and wooing scenes that put Sivaji completely out of character. I mean, you can only really shine when there is something that reflects.
Suman was insipid as a villain. A lot of people have raved about his controlled performance, but seriously, there is more to being a villain than looking and walking dangerously with dangerous back-ground music and eyeing your minions threateningly. Confrontation scenes between Rajni and Suman were of poor quality, with Suman shifting while trying to appear angry and vengeful. Some of those scenes smacked of serials straight out of Tamizh television channels. Again, Rajni struggles to shine. For a serious lesson in villainy, look at these two stalwarts: Raghuvaran as Mark Anthony in Baasha, and Ramya Krishnan as Neelambari in Padayappa. They were absolutely brilliant, and as a result, Rajni was able to shine in all his splendour.
Rajni seems to have been under-played, with "Amma-Thambi" Mama Vivek even stealing a couple of punch-line moments. Then suddenly, it's classic Rajni in bursts, with some sweet lines and fight scenes. That fight scene in the music shop Royal Musicals was straight out of a Chinese movie (See House of Flying Daggers) and I thought it was brilliantly executed. And I don't know why people were complaining about Rajni's entry. I thought it was one of the greatest entries that Rajni has had in a very long time. My mouth was watering with anticipation with that entry. I thought I was going to be in for a superb film, quite unlike any other Rajni film. I think I was expecting a Rajni-ised version of Mani Ratnam's Thalapati, with class and typical Rajni style. I was let-down mostly.
However, the real class of the film comes through only when you look at it relatively. Compare it to films emanating from Boringwood (Mumbai) and Horriblewood (Los Angeles). Have you ever seen such grandeur in sets? Utter beauty. Have you witnessed such brilliance in computer animation technology that a dark Rajni is made to look white? And include the songs and the coin and fight scenes as well. Fantastic. I was blown away by the scale of the entire project and by how well the fantasy element was executed, even though I detest fantasy.
All in all, I've seen better. But hey, bring on the re-runs, I say. Cool!