Rajnikant’s Lingaa has come in for some serious flack from the viewers and critics alike who have for once shun the man who is a god to the masses. First Kochadaiiyan and now Lingaa, 2014 has turned out to be the most forgettable year for Rajni in recent times. However after sitting through this film, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question that was Lingaa really as bad as many might be sighting? Was it really that much different from some of Rajni’s earlier blockbusters? Surely the star has aged but none of it is felt onscreen as he still has the swagger and charm to carry forward two distinctly different characters with equal finesse.
Lingaa is the story of a man who crossed insurmountable odds to do good for the masses. The film starts off by taking us to the village of Solaiyur where a dam, built by the legendary king Lingeswaran (Rajni), is under the scanner for its durability. That very night the engineer entrusted with the task of the survey is murdered but not before he speaks his last words to the village headman asking him to open the temple built by the same king Lingeswaran immediately. A temple which was lying locked for 7 decades. The headman sends for the only surviving heir of Lingeswaran, his grandson Lingaa (Rajni). Lingaa is a petty thief who hates his grandfather for leaving nothing from his wealth for him or his father for that matter. Lakshmi (Anushka Shetty) a vivacious girl is sent in to bring him back to Solaiyur. Lakshmi succeeds after getting Lingaa entangled in a situation which needs him to go underground for some time.
Once in Solaiyur, Lingaa knows of the extreme riches hidden in the temple in the form of a Sivalinga and plans to steal it. It is during this his try that he comes face to face with the legend of Lingeswaran and what he did for the people. The story takes us to a point where Lingaa’s arrival at the village is justified and after his grandfather, he turns out to the next in his generation to save the people of Solaiyur from destruction. The rest of the story revolves around how Lingaa saves the day and becomes a darling of the masses like his grandfather.
Lingaa has all the ingredients that make up a Rajni-Film. The film has a decent enough story which does keep you guessing at a few junctures. The screenplay is heartwarming in the second half after Lingeswaran makes an entry. Rajni’s image suits the king’s persona perfectly and as he sets about achieving his goal, he gets stronger with every scene. The British bashing is also in place and it provides just enough patriotic sentimentality whenever it is required. The film also boasts of two very well done action sequences. The first takes place inside and above a moving train just before the half time. The second is the elaborately shot climax of the film involving Lingaa rushing against time to save the dam and his damsel in distress being blown off.
While the action set piece on the train is exhilarating and beautifully shot, the climax will extract more cheer and searing whistles. The film is abundant in scenes which will tag at your heart. One such scene which is of special mention is the one in which the villagers, looking for Lingeswaran after they had banished him from the village, find him living in poverty and yet feeding them to his utmost ability. The villagers are shown eating their food teary eyed with Lingeswaran feeding them with a smile. The background score in this scene also elevates the feel of the scene.
On the flip side, Lingaa’s first half drags. The petty thief act of Rajni doesn’t suit him as well as the King’s act. While it is fun to watch him as Lingaa for a while, the act gets repetitive and very soon starts hamming. Anushka is a pretty face but they hardly share any chemistry which further weakens the effects of the scenes. The heist sequence, which was suppose to be the highlight of the first half, is done in a haphazard manner with utter lack of any believability or finesse. This makes the sequence stick out like a sore thumb. But post the introduction of Lingeswaran, the film jumps to a whole new level. As is the case with all Rajni films, it is the “Thalaiva” who dictates the turn of things. The heroines and the comedians are there but they add nothing to the proceedings. Sonakshi Sinha has a meaty role in the second half but she is underutilized. The director seems to be in awe of Rajni and his character and I don’t blame him. Aren’t we all? The music by AR Rahman is a letdown sans a few pieces here and there.
Lingaa has a social message to deliver as is customary with all Rajni fares and the one here is right on our faces. The film does so in an entertaining way which not only effectively drives in the message but also leaves the audience entertained. The film is technically superb with the grand visuals and mounting accounting for almost a quarter of the film’s pull. The editing is top notch and the set designs elaborate. It is an out an out Rajni film and I believe that’s exactly what everyone was expecting. So Lingaa is for the fans of the Thalaiva. The others are welcome too provided they can accept the film for all the Rajni histrionics and jingoism. If not, steer clear.