Saturday, June 16, 2007


Shankar is called a socially conscious director. After witnessing one more time his penchant for spending insane amounts of money on his spectacles (they no longer remain movies), I doubt it seriously. Sivaji, for instance, is a movie about black money in India and how it is widening the gap between rich and poor in India. Seeing the amount of money that was spent to make the movie and the amount of business it did, I wonder how much of the much maligned black money went into the whole business of shooting and selling the movie. If Shankar is such a socially conscious person as he wants us to believe through his movies, let him cut down the budget of his movies by a tiny fraction and put it to some better purpose, like the affordable education that all his protagonists go on endlessly about.

Coming to Sivaji, Shankar makes sure that the 65 Crore Rupees spent on the movie is seen on screen. Every scene is staged with a lot of grandeur and the songs are obscenely lavish. In this all consuming desire to be grand, Shankar misses the most important thing, richness of emotion in the movie. Result: this is a movie that leaves you cold. You love The Superstar's eccentricities, his mannerisms (tossing the coin, the chewing gum rebounding off various surfaces and the superb drumming on his bald pate), laugh at his efforts to become fair etc etc etc, but you dont feel bad when he loses everything. Post interval, 40 odd minutes are devoted to Rajni getting back to a Prado from the local bus, but this is told in such a documentary fashion, that you are waiting for it to finish and the movie to get back to its masala mode.

Screenplay was a strong point in some of Shankar's early movies and so was emotion. There was a strong reason for his earlier protagonists to do what they did, let that be murder or robbery and you end up sympathising with them instead of treating them as murderers or robbers. Here, the strong motivation is lost, Sivaji is shown as a man who has it all and gains everything back within minutes of losing it - show me some hardships and then show me the ride back to luxury - and I will love it. The screenplay moved between one grand scene to one grand song to one grand fight and then back to a grander scene to a grander song to a grander fight and then onto.....

All that apart, Sivaji is a funtastic treat for Rajni fans, he plays out his role with elan, wears all the weird getups that Shankar planned for him and does wonderfully well in the songs where he pays tribute to other stalwarts. Shreya looks like a dream, someone who suits Shankar's grandiose dreams. Vivek is good and gels well with Rajni. Suman was good, though his role limited him to mostly being someone who flashes his yellowed teeth. The songs were brilliantly shot, Manish Malhotra's costumes and Thota Tharani's sets and KV Anand's cinematography were fantastic and elevated the songs to an different high altogether. Rahman's music was great, but did not fit in completely with the movie. The superstar is not my ideal candidate to do hip-hop or latina songs probably.

Shankar seems to be losing it...his stories getting thinner and thinner, his protaognists geting weirder and more superhuman with every outing and worse, his penchant for richness and grandeur overshadowing everything. I will however be ready for Shankar's next, no expectations of a strong script or a satisfying movie, just three hours of grandiose sets, fantastically staged action sequences and 5-6 music videos each with a different setting...

1 comment:

Renu said...

Your review kinda says it all!! I am not sure if the movie was worth a second watch ( excluding shriya) but your review is worth a second reading