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‘Rajini Murugan’ Review: Attack Of The Rajini Clones

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Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Keerthy Suresh, Soori, Rajkiran, Samuthirakani

Director: Ponram

Sivakarthikeyan in Rajini Murugan Movie Stills
Sivakarthikeyan in Rajini Murugan Movie Stills

In Tamil cinema, there is now a longer line than a Tirupati Devasthanam queue, for those aspiring to become the next ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth. No matter that every one in the queue knows that it’s a wild goose chase around every pitfall Tamil cinema has created for itself over the years. Take Sivakarthikeyan. A self-confessed Rajini fanboy, he now teams up with director Ponram once again (after the successful Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam), for the unabashedly titled Rajini Murugan.

So far, most actors in this business have only followed the function. Action heroes with save-the-day scenarios, loyal followers, and robust punchlines. But Sivakarthikeyan is the first to follow the form as well. He styles himself after Rajini. His has the swagger and the dancing skills of a superior Rajini double. When he stands in front of his beloved’s house, there’s a Rajini fan club board behind him. And he’s young enough to carry this off.

All through the performance, a tiny part of his tongue is firmly inside his cheek. In fact, he is dangerously close to parodying every trademark Rajini move. In one sequence, he becomes the owner of a company overnight. With shirt and tie, and a Macbook to boot. But nothing comes of this.

Watching Rajini Murugan is already an exercise steeped in misery. What’s worse, it’s impossible to decide when Sivakarthikeyan is paying homage to his icon, and when he’s just sarcastically chuckling.

*****

The story is routine now. The loafer and his sidekick (Soori in one of the most Soori roles) wreck havoc around town, one quarter at a time. Ponram used to be M Rajesh’s assistant. And it shows. Then there’s Rajkiran, playing the aged patriarch. Interestingly enough, he’s introduced making small-talk with a friend about the delay in getting a ticket to the heavens. At the same time, he’s showing off an iPad. By now, this is a a role he can perform in his sleep. It really should be converted into stock footage, New films can just buy it from him directly.

*****

Keerthi Suresh and Sivakarthikeyan in Rajini Murugan Movie Stills
Keerthi Suresh and Sivakarthikeyan in Rajini Murugan Movie Stills

Keerthy Suresh plays that (all-too familiar) woman who is initially visibly irritated with our protagonist. A little later, a tad subdued. And then you blink and she’s suddenly acting all coy in his arms.

A curious character in Rajini Murugan is her father, a family friend of Rajini Murugan’s family. He’s the real Rajini fan in the film. He keeps tossing his head to the right. When his daughter is out of line, he doesn’t directly reprimand her. To teach her about the unconditional love of parents, he plays a scene from Padaiyappa. To give her advice about choosing a life partner, he plays a scene from Annamalai.

Although currently at odds with Rajini Murugan’s father, the grudge between the two is more vocal than actual. Their love and friendship is secretly safeguarded and cherished. After all this ennui, Ponram still finds a way to gloriously bring this character back into the centre of things. Disappointingly, he then does nothing with it.

*****

Rajini Murugan is a classic idiot plot. A resolution is always around the corner, if only people would talk and behave less inanely. Things kick into gear only in the second half. The first half ambles along with a liberal dose of sexist jokes and objectification. There’s a palmist who reads feet instead of hands, because guys these days don’t have lines on their palm (overuse, you see). There’s an entire sequence in an Audi showroom, belabouring the old analogy about women and cars. There is even the “joke” about pressing a button to open the top view! And the one about buying an Audi, and the girl being the aadi thalubadi.

Now, these wouldn’t rankle as much (given how numb we have become, in the face of their abundance) if the film had something else going for it. Anything else. Take, for instance, Naanum Rowdy Dhan. Not only did it have sexist humor galore, but it was also another film where people behave stupidly. But in that setup and with those characters the audience always believed in their actions. And the plot kept you interested.

In contrast, Rajini Murugan is an assembly line. Formerly managed by M Rajesh, now run by Ponram. The saving grace might have been a competent antagonist. But, no. It’s almost an insult that one of our best actors today – Samuthirakani – is reduced to a joke. Rajini Murugan gives us a hero who seems to be a parody, and a spineless jokey riff for a villain.

*****

The Rajini Murugan review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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