Rajinikanth starring Lingaa (லிங்கா) got released yesterday on the superstar’s birthday. Rajni’s fans had been waiting for the superstar’s next movie for the last 4 years, with Endhiran (2010) being his previous movie. Rajni appears in two characters, one as a British-era collector and Raja Lingeswaran with Sonakshi Sinha as his pair, second as a present-day common thief Lingaa with Anusha Shetty as his love. Santhanam provides comedy relief. The movie is about how Raja Lingeswaran builds on his own funds a dam for the welfare of Solaiyur, he succeeds in his mission even with stiff opposition from a British collector but ends up losing all his royal wealth. After 70 years, in the present time, the dam is in danger of being demolished by a local MP for his greed to get a commission if a new one is built.
I went to the movie today in Mayajaal multiple. Almost all screens were showing Lingaa and all of them were running full, I had booked my ticket 4 days back. Driving on a Saturday to ECR and returning to the city is a pain due to the traffic. Added to that trouble, the multiplex was in bad condition with poor maintenance. This will be my last visit to Mayajaal.
Coming back to the movie. The movie fails to leave you with any impression, unlike typical Rajni movies. There is not even any Punch dialogue!!!. The first thing you feel when you come out of the theatre is how long the movie has been running at 3 hours, easily 30-40 minutes could have been cut without any loss.
Sonakshi and Anushka appear beautiful, with Anushka less attractive than she was in Singam 2. Both of them appear too young to be romancing an old Rajni, Anushka’s character had a bit of chemistry with Rajni, but Sonakshi character’s setting felt like a father & daughter relationship. The songs have been pictured very well, and the sets and costumes were enchanting. I saw in the title card A.R.Rahman‘s name as Music Director, the background score was good but I didn’t hear Rahman in any of the songs. Generally in Rajni‘s movies, actors playing his friends’ circle are remembered for a long. Think of Y.G.Mahendran and gang in Veera (1994), Senthil in Arunachalam (1997), Goundamani in Baba (2002) or Vivek in Sivaji (2007). Unfortunately in this movie, Santhanam and the gang fail to make any impression.
Regarding the Raja Lingeswaran character, it seems to be an attempt by Director K.S.Ravikumar to tick every possible superlative – British Collector, tick; Maharaja with boundless riches, tick; Civil Engineer, tick; Patriotic Indian, tick; Socialist, tick. As a result, we are unable to identify with the character, he becomes an imagination, a mythical figure. So when the Raja loses all his wealth to the treachery of a British collector, we are unable to feel for his loss. In contrast this to Muthu (1995), when the Rajni character walks out singing Vidu Kathaiya, a whole generation watching the film cried with the song. Regarding the present-day Lingaa character of a common thief, for me, a con man Rajni can be Johnny (1980) or a master criminal like Billa (1979) or even the comical stealer in Ninaithale Inikkum (1979). With that impression in mind, to see Rajni playing a young common thief and stealing a jewel from a five-star hotel looks so amateurish and tasteless.
Finally, I felt this film is a wasted storyline and opportunity by the Director. Had he taken only the story of the Raja Lingeswaran (with inspiration from rumoured Mullaperiyar dam by John Pennycuick) as a period film, the film could have been smaller, focused and provided enough to feed Rajni fan’s hunger for action!