Last night, Vidya and I went to see Jothika roll her eyes.
For a Rajinikanth fan, there is just one scene in the movie that is to be seen – the one where he makes a grand entrance. He kicks a man so hard that he (the kicked man, not Rajinikanth) goes flying, crashes into the windscreen of a parked Qualis, and crashes out of the rear windshield. This is the highest point of the movie. From here on, it is all downhill.
The first impression we had of the movie was that it was loud. Way too loud. Maybe this is how loud all Tamil movies are played – we really wouldn’t know. The last Tamil movie we saw was Kaaka Kaaka, and I do not recollect it being so noisy. Our last movie outing was to see Revenge of the Sith – and that, though it had a lot of explosions and noisy battle scenes, was nowhere near Chandramukhi in its loudness.
Though I am quite a fan of Rajinikanth, or the Superstar, as we fans like to refer to him, this is only the third of his movies that I have watched in a theatre. The first one was Ninaithaalay inikkum, which I watched as a little child at Maniam theatre in Coimbatore. The second one was Panakkaran, whic I watched in Jaishanthi theatre, also in Coimbatore. All other movies were watched on video or television. So, my experience of Superstar movies in theatres is severely limited.
There is a scene, somewhere towards the end of the movie, where Prabhu cries out aloud, “Why this torture?” This aptly reflected the sentiments of the audience at this point. This emotional outburst provoked sharp laughter from most of the audience, and that sums up the Chandramukhi experience.
The character played by Rajinikanth, Saravanan, is about as crass and boorish as it can get. There is an entirely avoidable so-called comical sub-plot involving Saravanan, comedian Vadivel and his wife. It is tiresome and insulting to watch. This, combined with the none-too-impressive portrayal of a stern and authoritarian dowager played by Sheela and her mute (really!) and muscular assistant, and the attendant sub-plotting, drags the movie on and on to the point where everyone is just whiling away to time waiting for the “impressive last half-hour peformance by Jothika” of which we have read so much in various media.
When it comes, the denouement is comic and powerless. In spite of a truly desperate attempt by Jothika, the direction is so lacklustre and confused that it falls flat. Yes, Jothika’s performance is fantastic. Admitted. But, it is like Rahul Dravid scoring thirty six runs in the last over, when what is required is three hundred and sixty. It is much too little, much too late. And it is somewhat diluted by the almost comical make-up. It is that of a stage-style mad-woman, rather than that of a dishevelled dancer.
In all, Chandramukhi was a monumental waste of time, even to a Superstar fan like me. It makes one of the strongest possible cases in favour of pirated VCDs.