Friday, April 15, 2005

Chandramukhi : Totally Unexpected!

Watch the intro scene here and bits of Devuda Devuda here. Don't be bothered about the audio, that's the fans screaming. Unbelievable! :-)
Clips courtesy : Maverick

Watching a thalaivar movie on the first day was just unthinkable for me until today. Thanks to my friend Prashanth I managed to get tickets to 7 o'clock show on the first day. This has been the longest April 14th for me. I was waiting for the sun to set soon, I need to watch thalaivar in action. I was just praying that Chandramukhi do better in the box-office against Mumbai Express and Sachin. In the meanwhile good news started pouring in. Hearing good reviews for Chandramukhi just made the day longer. Finally, I found myself roaring in the cinema hall when the trademark Super Star Rajni card flashed on the screen with ear-deafening Annamalai music. Super Star rocks!!

Before I proceed, I assure you that there are no spoilers in this review :-)

As always every Rajni fan awaits his intro with bated breath. Baba was disappointing in this regard : a fifteen minute wait to get a close up of a totally screwed up face. Things are much quicker in Chandramukhi. To tell you honestly, this is one of the most awesome intros ever in Rajni films. Thalaivar flips a bubble gum into his mouth with panache, in a manner only he can. A typical Super Star walk to follow it up and there you go...thalaivar kicks bad ass!

And you know what? That's the end of the stereo-typical Rajni we all know of, but still enjoy. No style. No cigarettes. No punch dialogues. No political remarks. A film which relies purely on the story and the performers is what people are in store for. That is Chandramukhi for you, neatly done.

Rajni plays the role of a psychiatrist called Saravanan. His best friend Prabhu and his wife Jothika movie into a supposedly haunted house. Disturbing things start happening. How Saravanan solves the mystery is the story. And yeah, this is a Rajni film :-)

Rajni looks amazingly young in this movie. He looks rocking young, to an extent that even the close up shots do not bother you! It is a total make-over. Baba was a complete let down in this aspect. A walking stick would have suited Rajni better in Baba than a funky knife! But it remains a mystery how they managed to give thalaivar this refreshing look. Some scenes, yeah, the patches are kinda visible. But on the whole Rajni is awesome!

There are just two stunts in the entire movie. They have tried their best to maintain the larger-than-life image of Super Star in these stunts. The popular wired stunts ala Matrix. Timeslice shots have been avoided. Instead they just freeze the frame to give an impact. Works out effectively at times and not so effectively at others. Some moves are a little bit overdone. But when Rajni is in action, who cares?!

Special effects. Hmm.. again positives and negatives. Certain scenes are boosted up with beautiful effects. A small portion looks like animations in Toy Story. Always happens in Tamil films, the inefficient usage of graphics. So I feel they did a decent job on this one.

The songs fit amazingly into the movie. Cannot be better woven. Vidyasagar, I now feel, has done full justice and played his part effectively. Good BGMs are an essential part of a suspense film. The re-recording is very good too. But as always, ARR is ARR. Baba BGMs rocked completely! I miss ARR!!

Picturisation of songs is also brilliant. Devuda Devuda being the intro song and shot in an expected manner to the complete satisfaction of Rajni fans. Athinthom is simple and sweet. Konja Neram has been shot in astonishing places of Istanbul. As expected, Annanoda Paattu is what got that fans dancing. One wondered how Rajni was going to shake his legs for such a fast song. Infact, I was just hoping somebody like Prabhu Deva did not make life miserable for Rajni with dance steps ala Baba Kichu Tha. It turned out to be a mockery then! But glad here that Rajni has not tried too much. Just his trademark steps. Nothing that would cause too much strain and trouble Rajni. Some dance formations resembled the drill/march past formations though which could have been avoided! Honestly, I would have loved a Maya Maya kinda dance for this one, but that was missing.

I believed this was a full length comedy film before I saw it. But this one was more of a different genre. Comedy has been wisely sprinkled throughout the movie. No hilarious stuff to get you roll on the floor and laugh. All timely jokes which you possibly cannot share with others. Gotta be done with it then and there. Next moment its poof! Vadivelu is brilliant. There was a period I just fumed at the mere mention of his name. That was during the Kovai Sarala adi thadi days. After that, he has really grown to be a great performer and I love him now. There is infact a scene where Rajni narrates a ghost story to Vadivelu. Reminded of Nagesh Balliah in Kathalikka Neramillai? So was I. Obviously, that was sheer class. But this evoked good laughter too. Rajni as a comedian needs no special introduction.

A commendable perfomace by Jothika. She was brilliant with her acting. A bit over at times, but I can't think of any other current actress who would have done it better. A person whom I found irritating in the movie was Nasser. I have a feeling he over did things. Too much of shouting spoilt it. Some jokes have literally been killed bu this man. The timing was remarkably poor! What happened to you Mr. Nasser? Mookku mattum dhaan valarutha?

Another good thing about the movie was that everybody had a small part to play. It is not a Rajni centric movie which often people (non-Rajni fans) complain about. Infact, Rajni is missing for a good 15 minutes in the movie, at one stretch that is, which is very much unheard of and unimaginable. Nayantara is not gorgeous, but she is ok, probably good. She has done justice to her role too.

I did not like Rajni doing one thing - he spokes bits and pieces in English. It seemed very odd. Probably director's way of saying he is practising in America, but he could have done away woth it. Afterall this is not an important part to stress on. Nobody would have actually bothered about such logic, especially in a Rajni movie :-)

I have a little disappointment too which I do not wish to conceal. Being a hardcore thalaivar fan I so desperately wanted punch dialogues and Rajni styles. I mean that's what I love. I spent the first half of the movie re-assuring myself : "Ok, Rajni will do it somehow", I kept saying to myself. Afterall a hardcore fan like Vinod specifically messaged me and told me the film rocked, so there has got to be something in it. It was only after the interval that I made up my mind to stop expecting stupid stuff. It was very clear that they were going to treat Rajni only the way the role demanded.

But there was lot of scope in the movie to get things in. Chewing gums replacing cigarettes would have got the fans screaming mad. A few dialogues here and there would have been amazing too. That way the film would have satisfied the front bench audience a lot better. Having a clear winner in hand, such things would have spiced up things catering to the taste of every single person. They could have probably capitalised on that one to make it really big especially when Mumbai Express doesn't seem to be pleasing its passengers.

But, but, but...there will be no end to ifs and buts! I appreciate this new effort from Vasu. Not often do people rely on story when they have the charismatic Super Star on their side, but he did. Forget the larger-than-life image people........Chandramukhi Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

Update : No superstar ingredients. But you know what, I want to watch the film again! Something seems to be missing today. I am missing thalaivars screen presence already! Gawd, what a fanatic I am! :-)

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