Crackers were burst and laddoos distributed as Rajinikanth starrer
2.0 finally hit Assembly Rooms in Ooty on Thursday. Khaki mixed with the white, as policemen, and even more unusually, politicians were present to the usher in the crowd that easily filled the hall. By 11:00 am, the gathering had swelled to an improbable hundred in number and was growing thick and fast. The drizzle was causing the temperature to rise marginally in the scenic hill station as people mobbed around the box office patiently waiting for their tickets to the next show.
A policeman on duty said that his department was erring on the cautious side for avoiding ugly scenes. “We don’t come here for every movie, obviously. But sir (Rajinikanth) has now entered politics. That is also a reason for our presence,” a middle-aged policeman said. The crowd was largely well-behaved though the tension was palpable. A man got annoyed with being pushed and pulled in the long and winding queue and began arguing loudly with the police. He was taken aside and told, “not to talk too much”. Lathi sticks were waved over people’s heads, but no one was harmed.
Obviously, this was an event movie and, for many fans present, this was Diwali and ‘Thalaivar’s’ birthday put together, though neither of those days are on the November 29. Predictably, most of the reserved tickets were given away to the Rajnikanth fan association.
Also Read: Rajinikanth's 2.0 review: One big angry bird and one cool mini me
2.0 has been a long time in the making; the first sets of announcements were made at least three years ago. After huge delays that can potentially be a turnoff for audiences, the project took off under the stewardship of director Shankar.
This is the third collaboration between the ace director and superstar. And as usual with any Shankar film, the director has pulled out all stops in impressing us with special effects that were conceived by the filmmaker himself (he also takes a credit this time around). The plot is razor thin, and if the trailer is seen before the movie (as people are supposed to), there is not much that will surprise anyone. Over the last few months, the lyrics to the songs have also provided enough clues as to how the plot will unfold. In short, bringing people to the theatre has been successful and now the onerous task of keeping the movie in it begins.
There are only three major players in the movie -- Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson. The action mostly happens around the characters of these three actors. Shankar references movies ranging from our homegrown
Nayakan to Iron Man and Ant-Man. The punch lines from hero, robots and villain are more corny than brilliant, but given this is a Rajni movie, the writers may yet get away with cold-blooded murder (Writer Jayamohan co-writes the movie along with Shankar).
There was stillness in the seated crowd and reactions were overall muted. Perhaps, the lips remained pursed as people struggled to make sense of the scientific ‘mumbo-jumbo’. There is a bit of that around the evolution of the villain Pakshiraja, portrayed by Akshay Kumar. The jargon continues to unsettle us even as Vaseegaran (Rajni) tries to finds a way to kill the “Bird Man”.
For millennial, with their supposedly short attention spans,
2.0 can be a gift . But by the yardstick used to measure sci-fi movies, 2.0 is an absurd failure as Shankar dins in the harmful effects of mobiles and this can get smarmy. And, no matter how tasty the caviar is, our hunger is unlikely to be satiated.
But Vinod Kumar, who was sitting next to me in the theatre, begs to disagree. He sees Rajinikanth as both a great actor and an honest politician. “He is a good person. I support his entry into politics,” he told me. Is this a landmark film in the actor’s career? “All of Rajinikanth’s are milestones for me. Merely seeing his name in the credit sequence is enough to make my day,” Vinod said.
Audience members also told me they were most impressed with the second avatar of Indian celluloid’s most famous robot, Chitti, who is nearly as villainous (delightfully so) as the villain himself. There is quite a lot of innuendo, but Shankar keeps the political propaganda to a bare minimum. He also doesn’t want us to think that he is taking a potboiler too seriously. Therefore, the picture is dotted with quips from most cast members and this happens almost as much as Vaseegaran says the word ‘dot’.
Ever since Shankar began using graphics extensively (people still remember his hit film
Jeans), he has been a darling of the masses for supposedly elevating Tamil cinema to the level of Hollywood. But at the same time, he is been rapped for “leading a movement” in favour of magnificent movies. Critics have pointed out that a dozen profound and simple films can be made on Shankar’s budget for a single graphic-laden extravaganza. 2.0 is in the race to become the highest grossing movie ever in Tamil, and perhaps, the whole country itself. Rajinikanth’s future and Shankar’s standing have never been so sorely tested. Will 2.0 pass muster in movie-crazy Tamil Nadu even as other sequels crash all around? The answer to that question is clearly not restricted to the fate of Tamil cinema, but to the more important electoral politics in the state as well.
Nandhu Sundaram is a journalist based in Ooty.