Its been a long time since we had a Rajni movie hit the screen in two successive years. After the Sivaji
euphoria, just as we were resigning ourselves to settle in for a long wait till Robot
released, came the news that Rajni would star in the remake of the superhit Malayalam film, Katha Parayumbol
. Sure it was only a guest role but considering the rarity with which we get to see Rajni on the big screen, a little goes a long way. Titled Kuselan
, the film was wrapped up pretty fast and is set to hit screens this Friday(Thursday night if you're in the US :)Katha Parayumbol
is a movie about friendship and fame. It is the story of a barber in a village and the changes his life undergoes when the village learns that the actor who is in the village shooting for a film, was a childhood friend of the barber. Srinivasan, who also wrote the script, acted as the barber, Meena played his wife and Mammooty played the actor. I have not seen the film but have read that the actor's role was a cameo and that Mammooty was onscreen for about 10 minutes. All reviews unanimously praised the script and the emotional climax and the film was a blockbuster. Its universal appeal is clear from the fact that it is being remade in no less than 4 languages - while the Tamil and Telugu versions have Rajnikanth andPasupathy as the actor and his friend, the Hindi version, Billo Barber
, has Shah Rukh Khan and Irfan Khan essaying those roles.
The record of Tamil remakes of Malayalam films isn't very inspiring. The latest, Kireedam
, was a faithful remake of the original and didn't pander much to Ajith's image. But films like Manichithrathazhu
and Engirundho Vandhaan
were stripped of what made the originals work as they were transformed into hero-centric Tamil films. The worst offender in this regard is P.Vasu himself, as he, along with Karthik, massacred Mohanlal's classic Bharatham
. But inspite of all these fears, it is a fact that P.Vasu gave Rajni his biggest hit in Chandramukhi
, a Malayalam remake. So I have my fingers crossed, hoping that Vasu manages to capture whatever it was that made Katha Parayumbol
so universally loved.
It comes as no surprise that in Tamil, the film has become a Rajni film. P.Vasu has proudly claimed that Rajni's role has been greatly expanded and its common knowledge that it now includes songs and stunts. And all marketing material like posters and audio CDs feature Rajni, with all others, including Pasupathy, pushed to the sidelines. This was inevitable, I guess. After Sivaji
and its massive pan-Indian hype and success, brand Rajni is now bigger than ever. So having Rajni in a film and not marketing the film on his name, however small his role in it may be, is now unthinkable. Movies with strong stories still do work but it is Rajni who is going to bring the crowds in, atleast for the first few weeks.
As a Rajni fan, I'm approaching the movie with mixed emotions and I think most fans will be in the same boat. Seeing thalaivar
on the big screen within a year of Sivaji
is ofcourse a fantastic treat. He looks even younger and more stylish in the stills and the trailer. And while I enjoyed his larger-than-life image and commercial movies, there was a small wish in the corner of my heart that he'd do a 'regular' movie sometime and Kuselan
looks like the best bet for that wish to come true. At the same time, this isn't a real Rajni film. So all those punch dialogs and stunts and songs are going to be presented as part of a 'movie within a movie' and I'm not sure if that's gonna be as effective as seeing them as part of a full movie. But one thing for sure is that this is one movie where the rest of the cast matters! Nayanthara is Rajni's on-screen jodi
, making it her third consecutive appearance in a Rajni film. She even has a solo song, illustrating her current popularity. Pasupathy has shown himself to be a solid actor(though I feel he has a tendency to overdo his expressions in the emotional scenes) and should fit the role while Meena reprises her role as the barber's wife. Vadivelu and Santhanam are there for the laughs.
In these days of financial problems and production delays, the speed with which Kuselan
has been made has brought cheer to Rajni fans. Lets hope the film increases the cheer and proves that as far as the box-office goes, the Superstar is always Kuberan...