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Movie Review: Sivaji the Boss (2007) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 88%%88%% 88% (356 votes)
Movie Still Sivaji delivers exactly what one expects from a combination of Rajnikanth and Shankar - a larger-than-life Rajnikanth improving society in a simplistic but dramatic manner while romancing Shreya, goofing around with Vivek and participating in rich, elaborate song sequences and graphics-filled fights. It is weak on logic but Rajnikanth's style, charisma and screen presence have been exploited to the fullest extent to make that easier to overlook.

Shankar's record at the box-office proves that he knows the pulse of the viewer well. Sivaji seems designed to prove that he knows the pulse of the Rajni fan just as well. An all-out, unapologetic tribute to Rajni's star power and solely intended to showcase his ability to carry a movie single-handedly, the film is the work of a director who fully understood Rajni's image and set out to depict it in the grandest way possible. In that, he has succeeded. For Rajni(and Rajni fans!), Sivaji is gonna be a tough act to follow.

Sivaji(Rajnikanth), a sofware engineer in the US, has returned home for good and is determined to do good for the people. He decides to open universities to provide free education and hospitals to provide free medical services but finds the process rooted in corruption every step of the way. Setting aside his own misgivings, he bribes the concerned people and finally gets the permission to set up his foundation. But problems arise in the form of Adiseshan(Suman), a powerful businessman who sees the foundation as competition to his own empire. Meanwhile, Sivaji falls for Tamilselvi(Shriya), a pious, timid girl but she and her family don't warm up to Sivaji and his family so easily.

The film is unabashedly aimed at Rajni fans. The one liners, the slo-mo shots, the multiple hair styles, costumes and get-ups(including dressing up like MGR, Sivaji and Kamalhassan) and the references to past movies(note the professions Suman asks Rajni to consider when he is down on his luck) are all designed to elicit cheers and whistles from the actor's huge fan base. Rajni ofcourse rises to the occasion, carrying it all off with elan. Looking young and dashing in some fantastic costumes, he plays to the gallery as only he can. The actor and comedian in him peeks out in the first half (he has some funny lines and he is very convincing when he is frustrated about the roadblocks to his plans) but it is all style in the second half. Starting off with the fantastic teakadai confrontation with Suman, it is a one-man show all the way. Armed with new gimmicks like the coin toss and the bubble-gum pop, he reminds us once again why is the real original as he takes on Suman and his cohorts.

For his part, Shankar picks his favorite 'social vigilante' theme but the whole thing seems very watered down here. The first half describes the problem(corruption) while the second half suggests a way out of it(use the black money hoarded by the rich to fight it). It is a topical issue sure but is handled in a superficial way that prevents it from making an impact. Sujatha helps lay out the issue in a short and crisp manner but the sequences where the plan is put into action are mostly outlandish. Creating sequences allowing Rajni to be bombastic and larger-than-life has obviously been Shankar's only consideration and so logic and realism take a big hit.

The movie doesn't start off strong. Rajni's introduction scene is pretty weak(inspite of a strong build-up). Ballekakka... kicks off rather abruptly and the song sequence itself, inspite of the grandeur and a slim and great-looking Nayantara, is disappointing. The technique of painted surroundings is a Shankar trademark by now and so fails to wow us and the fast steps for the song are a bit too much for Rajni to handle.

Inspite of the fabulous make-up that makes Rajni look almost half his age most of the time, we know that Shreya is way younger than him and any lovey-dovey sequences between them would have been quite uncomfortable. But Shankar cleverly sidesteps this by making the entire romance a comedy and that makes it easier to accept. Rajni's family wooing her family is different from the usual boy-girl routine and the entire sequence where they visit Shriya's house is hilarious. The comedy is definitely loud, juvenile and slapstick but it works. Vivek has some fantastic lines and Pattimanram Raja is an inspired pick for the role of the harassed, exasperated father. The segment where Rajni turns fair is also very funny(and clever since Shankar brings it in without making Shriya seem superficial) and the comic undertone makes the Style... song sequence work a lot better than the photos suggested. The location is great and Rajni has some great steps and moves(who else can make a simple move like taking off coolers to reveal plain glasses underneath, so stylish?!).

One of the big reasons for Chandramukhi's success was the flashback sequence that allowed Rajni to appear in a different get-up as Vettaiyan Raja. Shankar has learned well from that and tweaks the screenplay to allow the same here too. Rajni's look in the last segment is exhilarating and a good surprise (Oh, how I wish those pictures hadn't been leaked!). He gets to introduce a new style, utter some crowd-pleasing punchlines and participate in a stylish, good-looking fight sequence.

Shriya looks suitably mellow as Rajni's love interest. She looks gorgeous in the song sequences and is probably the only Tamil heroine among the current crop who deserves the description 'hot'! Considering the clean nature of the rest of the film, she could have been clothed a little more in the songs though. Suman plays a suave, sheep-in-wolf's-clothing kind of villain. He does a good job but his character is obviously very ineffectual and that affects our impression of him. Vivek has almost as much screen time as Rajni if you disregard the song sequences and has some hilarious lines.

Athiradee... should count as one of the best Rajni song sequences of all time. Lavishly mounted in a great setting with great ideas, bright costumes, superb choreography, it is one of the high points of the movie. Vaaji Vaaji... and Sahana... are more noticeable for their grand sets. As far as fight sequences go, Shankar spoils them by being too ambitious. The music store fight is nicely done but the comedy hurts its effectiveness. The car chase at the drive-in is plain ridiculous with SUVs flying off in all directions as they are swatted by Rajni's vehicle. But it does end on a nice note though. The climactic fight is saved by style with the billowing coat on Rajni adding to the atmosphere. The small fight at Suman's godown and the fight inside the rundown building end up being the best of the lost since they are more realistic and down-to-earth.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam