You go into a theatre playing a Shankar's movie expecting a good storyline, wonderful acting from the cast, extravagant picturisations, telling action sequences and most importantly, moments of directorial brilliance which he comes up with very often that makes you sit up and take notice. Shivaji manages to capture all minus Shankar's genius, and that's where I feel it is a let down. Shivaji is Rajni all the way. Logic behind the story seems to be the last concern to the director.
Dealing with societal ills has been Shankar's themes in most of his movies. It's no different here. The handling of the story could have been much better. It did seem that Shankar ran out of ideas and so decided to cover them up using the superstar's machoisms and his demi-god image.
Shankar's earlier creations like Gentleman, Indian, Mudhalvan and also Anniyan were in more ways practicable, had many intelligent scenes showcasing reality and means to improve upon the existing situation. Sadly in Shivaji, that’s not to be seen. I am not looking for a very perfect screenplay to steer the movie. But some scenes were lacking fundamental logic.
- Mortaging his house and car for setting up the university that offers free education is a blunder. Where would Shivaji even get the money to run the institution later?
- Beating up auditors and their resulting disclosure of their clients' hidden black money details is ridiculous. If everything can achieved through force, then why not take on the villain directly by force?
- Swindling all the black money form big shots all over India in such a short time. Do police and CBI do any work at all?
- Generating employments for all graduate and post graduate students. Where does he generate employment from? Where will they work?
- Shivaji back as MGR. Settin up driving licenses, passports somewhere from hiding? Gimme a BREAK!!!
- The concept of the hero beating up thugs double in size than him and two dozen in number is nothing new in Indian cinema, but I am not dwelling too much on it here because it's already very cliched.
Shankar has done a commendable job in knitting so many characters together. You have from the Pattimandram fame - Solomon Pappiah and Raja playing their parts. Vivek manages to evoke laughter as does Rajni. The song picturisations take you to the dream world, with outstanding work done on the sets, the songs could have been better from Rahman though. Yet, 'Vaaji vaaji' and 'Sahana' stand out, song wise and also the picturisation.
Rajni giving his best shot at dancing, sporting braided hairstyles, wooing his lady love, dispensing innumerable henchmen - typical Rajni that you get to see. If you are a fan of his, then you cannot ask for more. He carries the film all through. Shriya looks beautiful and has a significant role, a rarity these days for the heroines, which she has done justice to. Rest of the cast have performed well too.
An example of Shankar's touch in the movie was the part where Rajni's laptop has an access control program designed by him which self destructs when someone enters a wrong password. Rajni being a software architect designs this by himself.If only the movie had more such thinking scenes.
My rating - Rajni - pass, Shankar - fail