April 25, 2005
Chandramukhi: A review from someone who isn't a Rajini 'rasigan'
Statutory warning: If you are a Rajini rasigan, you may not like what follows.
Ok here's the first disclaimer: I am not, by any stretch of imagination, a fan of Rajinikanth. Well at least not the Rajinikanth we've been seeing in the movies for the last fifteen-twenty years. I admit that I liked his characters and his portrayal of those characters when he was new into the industry.
The second disclaimer is that I've watched neither Manichitrathaazhu or Apta Mitra. Chandramukhi is based on both these movies, apparently.
In case you have no clue about what this movies is about, I suggest you search around. I wont go too much into the gory details. Rajini (Saravanan) and Prabhu (Senthilnathan) are childhood friends. We get to understand sometime during the movie, thankfully sans a flashback, that Rajini was brought up and sent to the US by Prabhu's parents. Rajini is a psychiatrist, apparently one of the leading ones of his ilk worldwide. Prabhu has purchased a huge palace to please his wife Jyothika (Ganga). He has however heard stories of some spirits (not of the bottled kind) associated with that mansion. So he gives Rajini a buzz to see if he could help out. Rajini comes and checks out the place and is convinced that something is wrong.
Meanwhile Jyothika becomes too curious when she hears about the ghost of 'Chandramukhi' haunting the place. A local priest tells them all about Chandramukhi, a dancer from what is now Andhra Pradesh, and how she was abducted by the local king. She had already been in love with a dancer and she manages to get that dancer to move into a plot right next to the king's palace so that they could enjoy each other's company. Very convenient, that. The king comes to know of this and kills both of them. Her ghost haunts the palace, determined to seek revenge. Jyothika's curiousity gets the better of her and she provides rent-free accomodation for Chandramukhi's spirit. Strange things start happening and Prabhu is concerned. A long-moustached ghost buster wearing regal robes also tries to drive away the ghost but fails. Rajini steps in and applies his superior intellect and figures out that Jyothika is suffering from schizophrenia. He devises a plan to rescue Jyothika and to ensure that Chandramukhi's spirit is killed forever.
There're two redeeming factors in this movie: the comedy and the climax. Rajini and Vadivelu have a few nice scenes. The least they could have done was to not directly copy the famous horror story-telling scene between Nagesh and Balayya in Kadhalikka Neramillai. While the combination does raise a few laughs, it does have its fair share of unnecessary double-entendre. The climax is quite interesting and gripping.
The first three-quarters of the movie is pretty much junk. There're a few totally needless songs where Nayantara flits in and flits out, as Rajini's lover. Of course, there is the mandatory "thatthuvam" song where Rajini extolls the virtues of how no occupation is undignified etc. The other songs shamelessly praise Rajini, one of them even has kites formed to say "SUPERSTAR"! Thankfully he spares us of his sermonizing dialogues he has given us over the last few years where he often talks about how a woman should be modest, be true to her culture, not become too greedy and general sh!t like that. Rajini's young look in the movie is credited to his make-up. However the enormous number of white patches makes the make-up look so bloody obvious.
I have no idea why Rajini is playing such a role. It does not suit him at all. He certainly appears like a fish out of water. I would rather see him wear glasses without frames and slug it out with Raghuvaran, even if that was 10 years ago. At least he would look more comfortable doing that kind of role. You could have picked any one of around 300 actors in Tamil cinema and they could have played the role. The movie is bound to be a hit, after all Rajini's fans will ensure it. But that does not mean the movie is good. I think the best performance in the movie came from the chap who stands next to Akilandeswari and shows off his six-pack abs. The second best performance came from the huge snake which makes its appearance ever so often.
Including this one, Rajini's last two or three movies have all had a sort of sequence in them. They have either been based on the occult (Baba) or they have involved him controlling and overpowering a female character with a name bearing a lot of mystique, such as umm ... Neelambari and Chandramukhi. Besides, the names of female characters in his movies are also really strange: Chamundeswari (Manisha Koirala) and Akilandeswari (some relative of Prabhu in 'Chandramukhi').
Perhaps there's a pattern in there. Perhaps Rajini movies only do well when there's a strong female character in them and he shows his manhood in overpowering it ...
Labels: movies, review