What was it like to watch Sivaji once again and in 3D format on the Superstar’s birthday?
Nobody would have believed that 12/12/12 was a weekday going by the decibel levels inside Sathyam Cinemas at noon when the name Superstar Rajni appeared on screen.
Nobody would have believed this was a film that released five years ago.
But then, nobody is that unfamiliar with Superstar mania on a day that is increasingly being celebrated on par with Deepavali or Christmas by his fans — with crackers and confetti.
There are many reasons why Sivaji still works. The fact that it has been converted into 3D is just the excuse we needed to watch it again.
It was perhaps the last of the classic Rajinikanth’s zero to hero challenge format... something we had last seen only in Padayappa. In Chandramukhi and Enthiran or in Baba, we saw very little of the Superstar who we worshipped at his peak in the nineties — Baasha, Annamalai or Padayappa.
Sivaji was a return to form — the form of Rajinikanth cinema designed to be watched screaming, whistling, clapping and cheering. The punchlines kept coming: ‘Parasakti hero da, ‘Chumma adhurruthile,’ ‘Singham single-a thaan varum,’ ‘Kanna bajji sappudu,’ ‘MGRum naan thaan, Sivajiyum naan thaan,’ and then, catchphrases in English too... ‘Kool’ and ‘Finish’.
It is a celebration of all things Rajinikanth — colour (“Why am I dark, ma,” he asks his mother and she replies, “If you were fair, you would get dirty”), style (at least two songs — ‘Style’ and ‘Athiradee’ showcase it), his love for Tamil and Tamil Nadu (When his friend advises him to “Go back to America,” he says, “Where else will I go? This is home.”) and his ideals (to do good in the times when “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer”).
And it is also the quintessential Shankar film about an idealistic hero who decides to take matters into his own hands to bring social change. Done so spectacularly on an epic scale with sets so grand that they evoke memories of the classics of yore.
Sivaji is as relevant today as it was five years ago. The issues it raises remain and still need to be addressed. We still yearn to get rid of corruption, black money and social inequalities.
But more than all of this, we feel a vacuum. Nobody has been able to replicate such magic on screen. We have only seen him in three films over the last decade. The first (Baba) wasn’t his best, the last (Enthiran) featured Rajinikanth the actor and not the Superstar.
He was 58 when Sivaji released five years ago. That did not stop him from dancing for us. When he danced to “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu”, we all were twenty years younger. Watching Superstar do what he does best is emotional because it is nostalgic.
Sivaji, thus, is a trip down memory lane, a time machine that helps you reclaim a part of your childhood, and your latent love for Superstar.