Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chandramukhi - A Post-mortem

[Pic Courtesy Kumudham]

Its official. Chandramukhi is a mega blockbuster. It recently crossed 50 days at all 170 theatres it was released in and is well on its way to being the biggest Tamil hit of all time. It is breaking records(in most cases set by Rajni's previous hit Padaiyappa) several times over and has come as a boost to a film industry starved of megahits (Yes, I did have a wide grin on my face as I typed this paragraph!).

In recent interviews to both Kumudham[registration required] and The Hindu, a visibly(and obviously) happy Rajnikanth talked briefly about Chandramukhi's unprecedented success. With characteristic humility, he attributed the success to P.Vasu, his co-stars and the script. But since he controlled almost every aspect of the film, Rajni deserves to claim a major part of its success. IMO, the film's success is as much a testimony to his business sense as it is to his staying power and charisma.

After rejecting several stories, Rajni zeroed in on one that was very different from the stories in his recent movies. It had a hint of the supernatural, which is always a popular subject. And it had been well-tested since it had spawned hit movies in two languages. His primary reason in selecting the story was that it held broad appeal for all sections of the audience.

His choice of the director was even more surprising. P.Vasu has been out of the limelight recently and has not given a hit in a long time. The fact that even Suresh Krissna, who had directed three of his biggest hits, could not deliver a hit with Baba pointed to Rajni going with one of the new crop of directors. But Rajni's choice of P.Vasu was based on the fact that he had been behind the camera for the superhit Kannada version and they shared a good rapport, having given three hits before.

But he did not do the same with respect to the cast. He has always had a soft corner for comedians Koundamani and Senthil and usually went with one of them in his movies. P.Vasu's success with Koundamani also pointed to him being in CM. But Rajni selected Vadivelu, who is easily the most popular comedian at the moment.

Rajni's lack of attention to his appearance was commented upon very critically in Baba. He made sure he didn't repeat the same mistake again. He gave everyone what they expected from him with a youthful look and designer clothes in every scene in CM.

While hype is unavoidable for a Rajnikanth film, he made sure that the hype surrounding CM did not reach the insane levels it did for Baba. A major reason for this was the lack of secrecy surrounding the production. Apart from an official website, stills from the film were freely available and stars associated with the film were candid in their numerous interviews.

Politically, Rajni staved off all controversies by making sure that no one would be offended by CM. Though it would deprive him of some trademark styles, he did not smoke in the entire film. This warmed PMK's heart, avoiding the incidents(snatching of the film rolls, protests at theaters, etc.) that marked Baba's release. Politically-tinged dialogs, a staple of all his recent films, were completely dispensed with too. There were no thinly veiled dialogs about whats gonna happen tomorrow nor were there pointed dialogs that left no one in doubt as to who they were aimed at! This was an actor who was at peace with everyone, whatever their political leanings.

Rajnikanth had a lot, including his very relevance in today's cinema that is dominated by much younger stars, at stake with CM. In the end, all his calculations and planning seem to have paid off richly (Kootti Kazhichu Paathaa Kanakku Ellaam Sariya Vandhiduchu :-) Now he can sit back, relax and enjoy the accolades!


At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edhir Kakshila Irundhaalum, I have to say that your article made a lot of sense...and the reasons behind the success of Chandramukhi were analyzed well...

meanwhile, looks like K. Hassan needs to perform a real post-mortem, given the 'death' of Mumbai Express :( I was fully expecting a reference to the Tamil New Year's "race" in your article...quite a diplomat you are :)

At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yelaame seri. But still you gotta admit that the superstar Rajini himself had to resort to remaking a movie that was superhit in 2 languages. Isnt that itself a bit of conservative thinking as result of insecurity after BABA collapse? He just chose this story which was a well-crafted one and has the elements of a BO hit and slightly customise only for the scenes in which he appears.

Having read all those points that you said, I thought I'll play devil's advocate and say this. I hope Rajini's next movie is not another remake (like 'Waqt' as some sources say). Let the superstar come up with an original plot and deliver a BO hit entirely on his own shoulders.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger IBH said...

Nicely Maverick told ritely that he had to resort to remaking one of the best Malayalam movies (for which Shobhana won a national award as 'Nagavalli')...but i am not sure if u guys really felt it...but 'some'of his movies are in one way or the other a remake of 'Amitabh Bachchan' movie...but he always made it a point that those movies appeal to Tamil audience...and he defly was catapulted to a greater success!
* Baasha -take off 'Hum'
* Velaikaran - Namak halaal
to name a few..

but otherwise CM is defly an enjoyable version...for me..

At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article, Balaji.. But the title "Post Mortem" surprised me, since it is USUALLY conducted after the death.. CM is very much alive and kicking.. :-)

I had this one question about CM: I was quite confused when the main secret was unveiled in CM.. Was it just a split personality, which has 100% scientific backing, or the soul of Chandramukhi? Rajni puts forward the forward theory, citing the turbulent childhood of Jo..

But, Jo's behavior, such as talking and singing in Telugu, dancing well and the 'lakalakalaka' part, combined with the tricks of Ramachandrachar suggested the latter theory.

I understand that Rajni was quite sceptical about suggesting the latter theory, since, as you had suggested, it would be like one of his mistakes of Baba. So, what is it anyway?

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Vee Cee said...

I agree with gp's funda - if it was supposed to be split personality, how come Jo speaks in Telugu.
Can someone here enlighten me if this contradiction was there in Manichithrathazhu?

IMO, another primary reason for this being a hit, sorry, megahit, is that Rajini is generally regarded as a nice person without any airs (this is my opinion as a rank outsider to the film industry). And after the Baba debacle everyone was kind of rooting for his success.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger IBH said...

It is almost entirely taken off from Manichitratazhu...except with a small the original Suresh Gopi,husband of Shobana, will be considered as the Raja...

now coming to Split personality partof it, in Mal movie too it is claimed as Split i dont see any difference in that Shobana speaks Tamil...

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, specifically didnt want to talk about kamal in this one :)

mav, as ibh pointed out, rajni has never been averse to acting in remakes of big hits in other languages. i think this would've been a conservative or even scared move only if he had never done it before.
and i did read somewhere that he didnt wanna do another remake and wanted an original story for his next. so your wish may come true :)

ibh, the list is even longer if u consider other languages...
muthu - thenmavin kombathu
veera - mohanbabu's telugu movie
and yes... so many of his movies have come from amitabh's movies

imo, it was a combination of both split personality and something supernatural(spirit, ghost, etc.). things like the clock glass smashing definitely wouldn't happen with just a split personality :)
and i recently saw manichithrathazhu and the same confusion exists there too...

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

KSR is too busy trying to make Ajith a superstar *gag*

He also gets hogged by mr. holier than thou Sarathkumar

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Rajni is still around!...Just kidding :) Looking forward to his next movie! Speaking of Sarathkumar, I started watching his movie Dosth yesterday on SunTV. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was "inspired" by Hollywood's Double Jeopardy...then again, perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. Also heard a tidbit of news that the PMK praised Rajni for not smoking in CM.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

gopi, does this mean u didnt read/remember my 'dhosth' review?! i do mention the 'double jeopardy' inspiration there :)
and yeah, i think it was anbumani ramadoss, the man behind the 'no smoking' ban, who praised rajni for not smoking in CM.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh!! Andha 'no smoking' ban in movies yen nyabaga padhuthreenga? pora poakkula, yelaarume vikraman maadhiri dhaan yedkkanum yelaame. avaru padathula dhaan yelaarume nallavanga, villains kooda easy aa thirunthiduvaanga, naai kooda kadikaadhu.


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