The big daddy of Tamil Cinema is back and that too with a bang. The last time two Rajni films got released in the same year was on 1995 (Baasha and Muthu) and we all know how those two films proceeded. Though we are seeing him in flesh after 4 years, thanks to Kochadaiyaan we already had a ‘dharisanam’ this year. While Rajni had a lot to fill up after his disheartening Kochadaiyaan, Ravikumar had to do the same but in many folds. His last successful film was Dasavatharam in 2008 which was followed by average hits such as Aadhavan and Manmadhan Anbu . Not to mention the disastrous Jaggubai and Policegiri (His first Hindi film which is a remake of Vikram’s Saami). And so a lot of things were put on the line when this project was announced. The technicians and a making period of just 6 months gave the hype this film needed and whether the hype was met seems to be the million dollar question.
The story revolves around a petty thief Lingaa (Rajni) who makes a living doing simple crimes. When Lingaa is called to a particular village that has a connection to his grandfather, he learns a lot about his grandfather Lingeswaran (Also Rajni) about whom he had a bad impression for years. What follows is the story of Lingaa and if Rajni stands up to the reputation his granddad had built forms the crux. More than half the film happens as a flashback narration and while mostly these flashback scenes are the speed breakers of a fast paced film, it’s not the case for Lingaa. These flashback scenes has the best parts of what this film has to offer and the present day scenes seem to struggle in matching up with its grandeur.
The film’s cast comprises of Anushka, Sonakshi (Making her Tamil debut), Santhanam, Karunakaran, Jagapati Babu, Vishwanath, Vijaykumar, Radha Ravi, Sundarrajan and etc. The talented list of technicians include A.R.Rahman, Rathnavelu (Cinematography), Pon Kumaran (Dialogues), Sabu Cyril and Lee Whittaker (Stunts). The performance of Sonakshi was the most speculated one and it has seemed to work. Though she has lip sync issues, she has definitely made a mark on her debut Tamil film. Anushka on the other hand is the usual arm candy who could have been used more. There is very little scope for humor and Santhanam provided those occasional chuckles. Karunakaran looked out of place and seems to be in the screen just because it’s a Rajni film. Apart from Lauren J. Irwin who comes in the flashback scenes, none of the foreign actors have done a commendable job. On the other hand, actors such as Radha Ravi and Vijaykumar who can do magic with their acting abilities are given very little opportunity. Rathnavelu has given his best from behind the lens and his hard work is evident in many scenes, especially the long shot ones. Sabu Cyril’s creation speaks for themself, notably the pre independence scenes and the palace decors are elegantly designed. Lingaa’s soundtrack will easily find its way in the top 5 worst works of A.R.R. Not sure if it’s because of the limited time given, both the songs and BGM failed to make an impact. Mona mona is the only track that seems to be hummable. The action scenes, especially the train top scene were proper entertainers. Dialogues have always played a key part in Rajni films and there is no deficient of awesome one liners and punches in Lingaa. These lines would definitely bring goosebumps and make us clap and whistle automatically.
There seems to be no estimable villain in this film, be it the flashback pre independence era or the current era. A mass hero like Rajni needs a villain who is strong enough to win a few scenes in the film beginnings only to fall down in the end. Jagapati Babu nor the British actor in the flashback scene had the demanding or dominating appearance to match that of Rajni. The best villain in this film is its screenplay. The last 15 minutes which was meant to be the climax showed how outdated Ravikumar has become. We are accustomed to see Rajni in a larger than life image but what happened in the last 15 minutes is something that’s not logically possible even in the weirdest/wildest of dreams. The visual effects look very unreal and phony. The pre independence scenes had a lot of good topics that were touched, like the take on British’s rule over India, casteism, ego, backstabbing, etc. Rajni’s amazing on screen presence, dialogue delivery and his usual charisma was the only wheel on which this huge project rolled.
Apart from the shocking climax stunt sequence, the incorrectly placed duets and the overall running time of almost 3 hours, Lingaa would definitely be a good entertainer fit for the family. It’s a tailor made film for Rajni and it rightfully delivers what his fans longed for. Even with all its cons, there wasn’t a single scene where the story lagged or made us feel bored. It’s a clean masala film that might entertain people who love Rajni.
LINGAA:- MULLUM MALARUM