Thursday, April 21, 2005

Review: Chandramukhi


The Rajini Magic will never die!
Posted by Hello

Chandramukhi is not a quintessential Rajini Movie. And, probably this is the only post 90's Rajini movie that any other actor could have starred in, minus the spectacular larger than life intro scene that is usually reserved for thalai. Maybe Baba, Ramadoss and all the critics who had written Rajini off might have been the reason why thalai opted for a safe movie that could reach the theatres sans any controversies. Nonetheless, the movie still had its share, the remake rights and distribution in Bangalore were a couple of contentious issues. However this movie is a fitting riposte to all the cynics out there: "The Rajini Magic will never die"

The reason why I say the magic will never die is because the most impulsive thing that I have done over the last 23 years of my life other than scratching my head, is to drive down for 7 hours to just watch the movie. Not surprising for a Rajini fan but I managed to convince non Rajini fans which goes to say a lot(when I mean non Rajini, there is this one guy who didn't seen Baasha....a cardinal sin). All my friends would swear that I am not the kind of person who does things out of the ordinary apart from wearing blue and yellow striped shorts to college (yeah, the senthil and goundamani types). Surprisingly my roomie an otherwise softspoken Phd. candidate joined in the shouting matches that ensued in the theatre. I seriously didn't know his vocal chords were capable of doing that till last week. I rest my case ladies and gentlemen, such is the power of The Rajini Magic.

Rajini plays Saravanan, a pyschiatrist living in America who is on a vacation to India. He is an orphan and was supported by Senthilnathan's (Prabhu) father (Late Sivaji Ganesan) . Saravanan is eternally indebted to Senthilnathan's family. Senthil has got a multi crore road contract in Vettayapuram, his ancestral village. This worries Senthil's mother (K.R Vijaya) a lot. Senthil's father had a love marriage which irked his relatives and Akhilandeshwari the lady whom he was originally supposed to marry. Therefore, Senthil's family has fallen out with their vettayapuram relatives for the last 30 years. Senthil's mother tries to bring the feuding families together by promising to marry Prabhu to Akhilandeshwari's niece Priya (Malavika). But, Senthil also follows his dad's footsteps by having a love marriage. His wife Ganga(Jyothika) plays the central character in the movie. Senthil buys the Vettayapuram palace so that he and his wife could live in it till his construction project gets completed. The Vettayapuram palace is considered to be haunted and Senthil's mother doesn't like the idea of them living there. Saravanan assures her that it is his responsibility to keep Senthil and Ganga safe for the duration of their stay in Vettayapuram. So Rajini, Prabhu and Ganga head to the Vettayapuram Palace. Akhilandeshwari is peeved to know that Senthil is married, nonetheless, she decides its her family's duty to ensure the safety of Senthil and Ganga. So she, her brothers (Nasser and Vadivelu) and their family's decide to stay with Senthil and Ganga in the palace for the duration of the project. As expected a lot of strange things happen once Senthil and family set their foot in the house. The latter part of the movie is how Rajini resolves the mystery behind the legend of the Vettayapuram Palace.

Some of the things that I liked about the movie:
The original story had been rehashed to give Rajini's character enough importance that requires him to have as much screen presence as possible. Eventhough the rehashed storyline as expected lost the originality which its predecessor had to offer but Thalaivar didn't let down the director and has given a sterling performance.Thalai's introduction scene followed by an amazing fight certainly set the theatre alight. A bunch of software engineers and graduate students is not saying much.I just cannot imagine the decibel levels that would have been generated in Abhirami, Albert and Udhayam in Chennai. I would doubt the film's chances of success at the box office if it was a faithful frame to frame remake of the original with anyone other than Rajini as the hero. A pei padam (ghost story) wouldn't be really on top of a movie goer's choices for the summer. Only Rajini's presence can bring people into the theatre. If one recalls there was a similar malayalam movie remade into tamil with Mamooty as the hero. The movie was titled Kili pecha ketkava. It was directed by the illustrious Fazil. But the movie grossed averagely and was definitely not anywhere near the malayalam original.

The director Vasu has done an exceptional job by trying to remain true to the story without compromising Rajini's fans. It was a tight balancing that eventually tilted towards having a sound story.As a fan I might have felt a little let down because of the lack of the characterstic Rajini dialogues but from a business perspective fans can ensure only a good opening, the rest is up to the family audiences. I guess someone as experienced as Vasu understood this perfectly and decided to provide a wholesome and clean fare by attracting no controversies whatsoever.

Its been a while since I have seen Vadivelu consciously taking an effort to make you laugh. Off late all his sequences usually resort to a rehash of all his previously tried and tested tracks with a generous sprinkling of his trademark words "Vandhutanya Vandhutaan, Chinna pula thanama irukka and give respect take respect". But, in this movie the Rajini-Vadivelu combo has really brought the best out of both of them. Vadivelu plays the character of a doubtful husband married to a very beautiful wife. Watch out for the 'Sothulayum adi vangiyachu Setthulayum adi vangiyachu' bit. Its rib tickling.

***spoiler alert***
Jyothika has given a superlative performance. Some of my friends thought it was plain overacting. But I cannot agree with them. She certainly sent shivers done my spine by just rolling her eyes and letting out that blood churling Lakka Lakka. Very simple lighting effects have been used in the movie to make the viewer scared and the results are of garangutan proportions. Five full grown men (of which I was the youngest and probably the most scared) were a little shaken after the movie.

The makeup man must be commended for making Rajini as close to how he was in Baasha. Though there were a few frames where you could make out some patches.

I loved the music in the movie. I initially thought the music album to be a big let down. But the audio-visula experience lent a whole new dimension to the songs. Well done Vidyasagar.

The things that I didn't like:
A lot of unnecessary scenes where random characters glorify thalai on screen. I personally didnt see the necessity of those scenes at that juncture where the need of the hour was a crisp lead up to the climax. The Editor could have generously used the scissors.

Nasser's performance I thought went a little overboard. It wasn't like he was unbearable to watch. But one generally associates him with fluid and measured enactments, like the hilarious Bhai cook in Avvai Shanmugi and the astute police cop in Nayagan. Probably the role didn't have enough scope for him to perform.

Choreography was sometimes a little too nursery like. Every dance had some variation of the ring a ring of rose's routine. Maybe thalai isn't young enough to dance the way he used to.

Nayantara didn't have anything to do in the film. Probably the whole romance track could have been just scrapped from the movie. You just can't help but notice the glaring age difference between the lead pair.

Overall it was an amazing trip plus a good movie. I enjoyed every bit of it. I think this could well be the last movie for Thalai, as it is most certainly going to be the biggest blockbuster for the year 2005. I would be surprised if Rajini decides to do another film.

Verdict: The pheonix rises

7 Comments:

Blogger Kumari said...

Good review. Thanks :)

I love Rajini movies just for the noise factor and the way one can get away with utter nonsense in the theatre:) The Last time my friends and I did a ruckus in a hall was for Muthu in Udhayam. Sitting in the last row, we behaved as bad if not worse than a bunch of 'Thalai-crazy' guys that a middle aged lady screamed at us to behave 'lady-like' :p

Now i am all eager to rush to the theatres for the next show...coz all tickets were booked till Apr 21 :(

11:05 PM  
Anonymous partha said...

A reasonably fine line treaded so as to satisfy both the maniacal fans and the 'want a story' audiences. Its got more story than the 'for rajni' stuff. The update from chennai is that most theatres are running full houses and are booked for a long time.

Dog, you only have a couple of lines for vadivelu...machchan, he is the actual hero...really makes you laugh (with a lot of double entendres of course...atypical of rajni movies)...rajni and vadivelu together formed a great comedy pair...

and prabhu was a pathetic actor in the movie...hardly did anything and when he got a chance to act (by crying) he made everyone laugh...

one more point is that rajnis last movie baba was really crucified by people for a 15 minute sequence with a kite (which was really boring - yuk...)...just to avenge that there is a song full of kites... unnecessary stuff...

2:57 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

:D @partha
I guess only Rajni can provoke people to comment on my blog. Especially busy people like you.

Yeah people laughed at Prabhu here too. Poor guy...produces the movie and gets laughed at.

Hmmm yeah the Kite song didn't look or sound too good but at the end all the kites formed superstar so it was worth watching ;)

11:59 AM  
Blogger PS said...

Can't wait to see the picture!

12:16 PM  
Anonymous partha said...

its not the fact that it is rajni machchi...typically most of your erudite discussions go over my head and for the first time there was something that i could comment on...and hence the blabber from my end... :)

12:00 AM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

Till 2 days back, I could't imagine anyone wasting their time on discussing F grade movies meant for a mentally deficient audience. I guess, I have to thank you, kumar, for expanding my horizons along those lines.

8:55 PM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

Thanks for joining the "F grade movie discussion club" Karthik. Looks like you are the 5th member.The rule of the club is that once inducted, every member has to bring in another person to join the club. So I expect you to bring fraulin or some other turkey into the club to spice things up ;).

1:27 AM  

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