story is good, cast is bad
Christmas is still a fortnight away, but the release of superstar Rajini's "Lingaa" meant that the celebrations at the box office got off to a roaring start from now itself. It's been about 4 years since "Endhiran" had hit the screens & though "Kochadaiiyaan" hogged the headlines for a brief period, that couldn't quite match upto the Thalaiva in flesh & blood. So will his latest release satiate the expectations of millions of his fans like me not to mention it's his first film on his birthday???
Solayur's dam has been in the public eye with reports surfacing in the media that questions were raised regarding the stability of the structure. On the behest of the court, a team of experts inspects the dam & comes to the conclusion that all the fears about the dam's stability were misplaced. However, the chief engineer gets murdered on the orders of the MP Nagabooshan (Jagapati Babu) who had some vested interests; but it was not before the former informs the village head (K. Viswanath) that the dam could be saved only by reopening the temple located adjacent to it. Both the dam & the temple was built by Raja Lingeshwaran (Rajinikanth) about 70 years back and as per the village head, the temple should be reopened by someone who belonged to the lineage of the Raja. The village head's grand-daughter Lakshmi (Anushka Shetty) takes up the search which eventually leads her to the Raja's grandson, Lingaa (Rajinikanth); a petty thief who detested even the name of his grandfather being mentioned. So what actually coaxes Lingaa to go to Solayur & how he thwarts the MP's plans forms the crux of the movie.
K.S Ravikumar is one who needs no introduction as he had helmed some of the biggest blockbusters of the Tamil film industry like "Muthu", "Padayappa", "Dasavatharam" etc. For his latest venture, Ravikumar employed the services of Cheyyar Arun & Pon Kumaran to provide him with a compelling tale which would have the fans asking for more. Well the script focuses on two periods, the present & the late 1930s with the latter period being the only one which makes the viewing experience worthwhile. The first half was more or less lack-lustered with the present day, Rajini's intro which is usually the highlight being pretty lame. However, the moment the pre-independence period kicks in...the film does utmost justice to Rajini's style with a bombastic intro & punch dialogues. Once that portion concludes in the latter half, it culminates in a lackadaisical & nonsensical climax with an outrageous stunt sequence which makes us cringe & laugh at the same time.
One of the major drawbacks of "Lingaa"is the length of the movie which runs close to 3 hours as there are numerous instances where Samjith could have effectively used his editing skills. Both Ratnavelu & Sabu Cyril have done a fantastic job with the visuals and art direction respectively, of the pre-independence era. I was however surprised with A.R Rahman's music as it bordered from mediocre to average at best with the track voiced by him being the best among the lot. The make-up & styling crew also deserves praise for making Rajini look both stylish & not an age beyond the 40s.
Rajini once again delivers a brilliant performance in his own inimitable style with his nonchalant attitude, dialogue delivery & as expected he wins over the audience hands down. Sonakshi Sinha didn't seem odd being paired with the superstar & she has done a decent job for sure. Anushka Shetty barely had much to do except for jive to a couple of songs. Santhanam does manage to crack up a couple of hilarious one-liners while the rest of the cast like K Vishwanath, Radha Ravi, Vijaykumar did their parts aptly. Both the villains of the different eras be it Jagapathi Babu or the English actor barely had the screen space or the impact that would have been expected especially when standing up to Rajini.
Verdict: Rajini films rarely fails to make an impression at the box-office & this is definitely not one of them. With a release in close to 6000 screens, it will be a blockbuster for sure but will it break the records of "Endhiran"...very much possible but I wont be surprised if it doesnt. There is no doubt it would cater to the fans & even for others as well, the pre-independence era will definitely be engrossing. However, how did Raja Lingeshwara read Joseph Campbell's "The Man with a Thousand faces" in 1939, when the book was published only in 1949...I guess only Rajini can read a book even before it is conceived !!!