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Chandramukhi - Movie Review

There is something called as 'The Rajini Formula'. If you're from Mars, this is it: a larger-than-life hero, his ideal parents, a well defined villain, a group of good friends, a cute heroine, an evil project, four fights, six songs, Rajini single-handedly smashing the villain and his men at the end, a unique blend of humour, emphasis on family values, climbing up in life, advice to younsters, and last but not the least: an extraordinary style. A Rajini movie is simply a combination, or a variation of the combination of these elements. 'Chandramukhi' makes the cardinal mistake: It violates the Rajini formula.

Rajini has always played a character where the common man finds himself in Rajini and goes on to project Rajini's feats as his own. The success of Rajini is attributed to the fact that even a cycle rikshaw driver dreams of challenging the biggest man in town, falling in love with his beautiful daughter, fighting evil, and still live happily joking around. This is what Rajini did - what you dreamt of doing, but the practical world denied opportunities, Rajini did all that for you and you happily wallowed in Rajini's world.

In 'Chandramukhi', Rajini is a psychiatrist who was educated and practices in the U.S. Think of the poor riskshawwallah. There is no well defined villain. Which means no challenges for Rajini!! Only two fights sequences, that too contrived. Hmmm. No climax fights. What? His exquisite style is missing. That's too much. Wait. Well, I don't mean it's a bad movie. The movie is a good commercial entertainer. It stands very well on its own. But what it lacks is the typical Rajini flavour. 'Chandramukhi' might have as well starred a Karthik or a Prabhu or any lesser actor in the lead and would've still made money.

Now, the story. Saravanan (Rajini) accompanies his friend Senthilnath (Prabhu), his wife Ganga (Jyothika) to their new Vettayapuram palace, which was not used for the past 50 years because of fear/rumour that a woman named Chandramukhi's spirit is still active in the palace. About 200 years back, a king/zamindar who lived in that palace had brought Chandramukhi, a dancer from Andhra Pradesh to his palace against her wish. Chandramukhi, brings her lover along with her to the palace and secretly continues her affair with him. When this is brought to the king's attention, he sets the couple ablaze. <Spoiler> Ganga, who is inquisitive by her nature, delves into the room where Chandramukhi's paraphernalia is stored and somehow the spirit rents her body. Chandramukhi's spirit won't leave until it kills the king. Saravanan, a psychiatrist, understands this and presents himself as the king to the spirit. The movie ends with a ploy that convinces Chandramukhi of the death of the king, while Saravanan remains unscathed. </Spoiler>

The last 30 minutes is what makes up the movie. The climactic scenes where Rajini along with a namboodiri drive away the spirits of Chandramukhi is where we see the much beloved hero. The song 'rara sarasaku', completely written in Telugu is destined to be the song of the movie. Not only is the song good, it also features Rajini as a womanizer trying to seduce and drive away Chandramukhi at the same time. What a treat those 5 minutes are. I was reminded of his roles in '16 Vayadhinile' and 'Avargal', where he defined the performance for forth coming sadists.

Vadivelu and Rajini offer some funny moments. Still I feel that the director did not extract the best out of either Vadivelu or Rajini. There is a romantic sub-plot between Rajini and Nayanthara, which is as deep as pond water. Most of the conversations seem like they were written for Mammotty - they are explanatory, hardly any punch dialogues for the audience to applaud. The stunts, choreographed by 'Thalapathi' Dinesh leaves much to be desired. Most of the stunt sequences employ invisible cables to give a flying notion and age seems to have caught with Rajini when he flies, sorry, fights. Songs are a definite plus. Kudos to Vidyasagar. Photography and visual effects are average. Direction is incompetent, as always with P.Vasu.

If you're a die-hard Rajini fan, you will be happy for Rajini who has bounced back from a flopshow and be a little sad for not seeing the man in full flow. This is a movie where his charisma and style is put to rest. If you're no fan of Rajini but want to spend some time watching a decent entertainer, I recommend it.

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