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?