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It’s Time  For Rajinikanth To Re-Invent Himself




I know  we are not  supposed to say  the ‘r’ word. Not about Rajinikanth. But truly he needs to retire or re-invent himself. He   has run out of  tricks, and that’s  a  catastrophic tragedy.  It’s  like saying God has taken a sabbatical. Or better still Kamal Haasan has decided to  do a  film where he won’t hog centrestage.

Some things are just not meant to end.  But then when we say this, we know  we are  fooling ourselves.  Even Rajinikanth  must hang up his boots.  Or his  sandalwood sandals, if you prefer. His  recent film starting with the  ill-fated  Kochadaiiyaan(which his  daughter directed) , then Lingaa,Kaala, 2: 0, Petta and Anaatthe have been  excruciatingly underwhelming .

Sure ,the fans are  still going berserk . But  hysteria for the Rajinikantics is  now  a knee-jerk response.Even they know  it’s  not the same  any more. That something is  amiss. Where is the real joy the  real ecstasy that was last felt when  Rajinikant stalked across the screen in Sivaji The  Boss?

After  a series of underwhelming  releases(and that’s an understatement)  Rajinikanth Sir is back with a sir-dard  of a film that’s Anaatthe.Sitting through the  lengthy loud loutish  torture chamber  of  a film with Tamilian fans  of  the Godstar shrieking  his name out, as  if HE can hear them, requires herculean  levels of self-loathing.

 Sorry to say,  Thalaiva can’t hear  the voice within which is telling  him to STOP. Right now! It isn’t only  because he  looks way too old to play  Keerthi Suresh’s sister and  Nayanthara’s boyfriend. That IS  a big problem,I admit. But the  bigger problem is, Rajini Sir insists on working with  directors who are too much in awe of him to direct him.Resultantly  in Annaatthe he keeps going off track with his  improvisations which once upon a time were so  spot-on they  drove the audience  wild. Now  it’s just embarrassing, nothing else, watching the mighty Rajinikanth  trying to look ….what?…45… when he is over 70 and spewing  lines that  spill out  in a wildspin  of senseless  gallery-wooing.

The  overall portrait is  that  of an  over-the-hill aged  superstar  trying  in vain to  preserve  the  illusion of  youth by working with  much younger co-stars.It  is painful to watch actresses as strong-willed as Keerthy Suresh(National award winner  for Mahanti) and Nayanthara (known in Tamil cinema as  ‘Lady Superstar) reduced to helpless props, nodding to every  whim and fancy of  their Lord, Master & Master Blaster.

As  a brother and  as  a  lover Rajinikanth  plays the autocratic patriarch who  “allows” his  dear kid-sister to study on Kolkata. GF Nayanthara  is a  lawyer by profession.She can barely open her mouth in the fear of being taken to task for contempt of  courtliness. I don’t know  if it’s a good thing. Annaatthe is the story of a man   who would  go to any lengths to protect his sister  from the evil eye. But what  about the  lurking imminent danger  of  self-caricatural redundancy which  has overtaken  Rajinikanth’s career? Who will protect him from the evil eye?

  Now the  time has come for  the  Thalaiva  to  re-assess his career. His attempts to stay  eternally  youthful  are  not  working. He needs  to act his  age. Play the  patriarch  of the family . not the son  wooing heroines suited to  play his grand daughter. It’s becoming embarrassing to watch an super-icon so frozen  in time he has begun to  look  like a  parody of his old self.

Just like my dear dear  friend Dev Anand. Dear Dear Dev Saab, all of us who loved him owe  him an  apology  for  not  telling  him like it was: that his last 16 films  which he  directed and starred in, were pathetic.

“Who tells that  to Dev Saab?” Jackie Shroff who  hero-worshipped Dev Saab once  confided in me. “Every one  quietly goes and does what he asks them to  , no questions asked.”

I wouldn’t want  Rajini Sir to fall into the same crap-trap as  Dev Saab. He must  re-invent  himself play the kind of authoritative  patriarchal  roles  that the great Sivaji Ganesan  played in his later years.

Shatrughan Sinha who prides himself for being Rajinikanth’s  inspiration feels the  time for re-invention is  far away.  “You didn’t like Annaatthe. But the fans went crazy. As  long as they  like what Rajini is doing, what’s the purpose of  a re-invention? Arrey bhai when the car is running smoothly on the  highway  why open the bonnet?”

 Shatrughan  Sinha and  Rajinkanth worked together in Asli Naqli  in 1986 “It was hard to say who was asli and who was naqli.Rajini  was copying me and I was doing my own stylized thing. Today so many years later he is a  force to reckon with. I am glad he didn’t  go into politics. He belongs on the  screen.Even at 80 he will have the audience ready to die for him.”

Agreed. But is Rajini is ready to die with films  like Annantthe to  showcase his spectacular  stardom?

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