Reviews

Lingaa: Drama minus the punch

Rajinikanth in Lingaa  

Cast: Rajinikanth, Anushka Shetty and Sonakshi Sinha

Direction: K.S. Ravikumar

Music: A.R. Rahman

Genre: Social drama

The arrival of a Rajinikanth film is like a festival. Hardcore fans expect a whistle-clap fest and even serious film buffs look past gaping loopholes in the script and soak in inimitable fun. K.S. Ravikumar, who directed Muthu and Padaiyappa (Narasimha in Telugu), aims to draw more than claps and whistles. He puts Rajinikanth in the centre of a social, period drama set in 1939 and offers some interesting view points.

The first one hour rolls by with some fun, as Lingaa (Rajinikanth) and his motley gang of friends that include Santhanam and Karunakaran are involved in petty thefts. Lakshmi (Anushka Shetty) is a television reporter who at first cajoles and later arm twists Lingaa into coming to Singanoor village, where a dam and a Shiva temple stand as proud reminders to the work done by Lingaa’s grandfather, Lingeshwara.

When the film slips into flashback mode, flaky fun takes a backseat and we are introduced to Lingeshwaraa (Rajinikanth), a Cambridge educated civil engineer, now posted as collector of Kurnool. He makes it clear that while Gandhi follows a non-violent path and Subhash Chandra Bose the armed method of fighting against the British, he is trying to implement welfare schemes for people by being part of the administration. This segment opens with a neatly choreographed stunt sequence on the train, has its share of stylish sunglasses and vintage cars but Ravikumar wants the audience to focus on the story of a Samaritan than the superfluities.

Lingeshwara wants to build a dam to benefit drought-stricken villages. When faced with a stumbling block, he reveals his true identity — Maharaja of Gadwal — and constructs the dam with his own money and puts his engineering skills to use. A huge supporting cast, from Radha Ravi to Nizalgal Ravi, Manobala to Vijay Kumar, come into the picture. Sonakshi Sinha is endearing as Bharati, the spirited young woman who is the most educated in the village — she studied up to standard IV!

As you soak in the period drama, relishing the little flourishes that establish the mood of the early 1940s, you realise it is not without errors. Rajinikanth is shown reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1939, whereas the book was first published in 1949.

The director narrates a tale of deceit, human spirit and triumph. The merits of the period drama come undone when the director, in a bid to emphasise the good nature of his hero, prolongs the flashback. It’s a template we’ve seen before, where Rajinikanth is maligned before getting his due.

Having spent far too much time in the 1940s, Lingaa returns to the present and hurtles towards a rushed end. The dam is now a political tool in the hands of Jagapati Babu. The climax is a huge disappointment. Suspension of disbelief in a Rajinikanth film is fun when the stunt packs in enough thrills. Here, mediocre visual effects play spoilsport.

Lingaa’s memorable moments lie in the social drama and the camaraderie between Rajinikanth and Santhanam. And there’s A.R. Rahman who makes a song with words like ‘Mona Gasolina’ sound edgy and good. Rathnavelu’s cinematography works in favour of the film. Though the romance between Rajinikanth and Anushka is flimsy, Anushka is appealing.

Lingaa is worth the watch for Rajinikanth but falls midway between being a gripping social drama and a full throttle entertainer. There are a few punchlines to take away too, for instance Rajinikanth says ‘I have not failed; I have only postponed my success’.

Bottom line: Thalaivaa doesn’t disappoint


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 3:05:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/lingaa-drama-minus-the-punch/article6686154.ece

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