Sivaji (film)

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Sivaji
Sivaji The Boss.jpg
An early pre-production poster.
Directed by S. Shankar
Produced by M. S. Guhan
M. Saravanan
Written by S. Shankar (screenplay)
Sujatha Rangarajan (dialogue)
Starring Rajinikanth
Suman
Shriya Saran
Vivek
Manivannan
Solomon Pappayya
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography K. V. Anand
Edited by Anthony Gonsalves
Production
company
Distributed by AVM Productions
(India- except Andhra Pradesh)
Pyramid Saimira
(Malaysia)
Ayngaran International
(Worldwide)
Sri Sai Ganesh Productions
(Andhra Pradesh)
Release dates
  • 14 June 2007 (2007-06-14) (premiere)
  • 15 June 2007 (2007-06-15) (India)
Running time 188 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget INR600 million (US$9.4 million)[1]
Box office INR1.75 billion (US$27 million)[2]

Sivaji is a 2007 Indian Tamil action film directed by Shankar and produced by AVM Productions. Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran played the lead roles, with Suman, Vivek and Raghuvaran playing other significant roles in the film. Actress Nayantara too made a special appearance. A. R. Rahman composed the film's successful soundtrack and background music, while Thotta Tharani and K. V. Anand were the creative art director and cinematographer respectively.

The film revolves around a well-established software systems architect, Sivaji, who returns home to India after finishing work in the United States. On his return, he dreams of giving back to society with free medical treatment and education. However his plans face a roadblock in the form of the influential businessman, Adiseshan. When corruption also arises, Sivaji is left with no option but to fight the system in his own way.

After post-production delays, it was released worldwide on 15 June 2007 in Tamil, and subsequently released in Telugu as a dubbed version on the same date. The film[3] was also dubbed in Hindi, which released on 8 January 2010.[4][5] Ultimately enjoying success worldwide.[6][7][8][9]

The film was converted into 3D and released on 12 December 2012 as Sivaji 3D, coinciding with the 62nd birthday of Rajinikanth.[10][11][12][13] The runtime of the 3D version was shorter than the original, cut to 155 minutes, and released amidst moderate fanfare and fared positively critically and commercially. It also became the first Indian film to use Dolby Atmos surround sound technology.

Plot[edit]

The film begins in medias res, with a masked Sivaji (Rajinikanth) being brought to prison. The film then winds into a flashback that shows him returning to India from the USA as a software systems architect. He establishes a non-profit trust called the Sivaji Foundation to build a network of hospitals and educational institutions to serve the poor free of cost. However, he faces an obstacle in the form of Adiseshan (Suman), an influential businessman, who sees Sivaji Foundation as competition, because he too runs educational institutions and hospitals which are profit-making centers for him. Sivaji is forced to bribe the corrupt civil service for the greater good of the people, but eventually, the bribes demanded become so high that he has to mortgage his house and sell his car to pay them. When he goes to court, his case his undermined by the fact that he bribed numerous government officials and he loses the case.

In parallel, Sivaji falls in love with an orthodox girl named Tamizhselvi (Shriya). However, upon asking for his horoscope, an astrologer warns that their union will result in Sivaji's death. When Tamizhselvi refuses the proposal due to her concern for Sivaji, he calms her fears and convinces her to marry him.

Following the loss in the court case, Thamizhselvi revokes her promise and Sivaji is reduced to a pauper. Vowing revenge on his enemies, Sivaji acquires evidence of INR 2 billion of black money in the possession of Adiseshan and uses the documents to successfully blackmail him into giving him half the money. Buoyed by his initial success, he obtains details on people who have black money across all of Tamil Nadu, and blackmails them to give him half of their illegal wealth. He then transfers the money to the bank accounts of friends around the world by means of hawala forgery, who deposit the money as donations to the Sivaji Foundation, making the money usable and legitimate. He then informs the Income Tax Investigation and Vigilance Department about the details of the illegal money held by the tax evaders (including Adiseshan) and they are brought to justice. Sivaji reopens the foundation, and soon begins to realise his dream of providing free, good quality education, infrastructure, services and employment to people in every district of Tamil Nadu. His adversaries, led by Adiseshan, seek a way to silence Sivaji and take advantage of Tamizhselvi's innocence. Fearing for Sivaji's life, she turns over his laptop with all the information regarding the illegal money transactions. With presentable evidence, Sivaji is arrested and the scene returns to the beginning of the film with Sivaji in jail.

In the jail, Adiseshan and the police force Sivaji to unlock his laptop. When Sivaji refuses, Adiseshan mercilessly assaults him, to the point that Sivaji is presumed dead due to the injuries sustained in the assault. To cover this up, Adiseshan and the police organise for thugs to shoot up the police van that will carry Sivaji's dead body, making it look like murder by a third party. Sivaji however was merely faking his death; he was informed of the plans to kill him by a sympathetic police officer prior to the interrogation. Left alone in the room, he electrocutes himself. Sivaji's friend Dr. Chezhian (Raghuvaran) and Tamizhselvi intercept the police van (informed by Sivaji after he got the police officer's warning) and replace the dead body with a dummy before the thugs open fire. While everyone thinks that Sivaji is dead, Dr. Chezhian revives him using a defibrillator. Following Sivaji's 'death', Adiseshan and the CBI still try to open Sivaji's laptop by using people who talk like Sivaji; however this fails and all the data in the laptop is erased.

A few days later, while everyone wonders about the future of Sivaji Foundation, the revived Sivaji returns to take control over the foundation in a disguise of a friend, M.G. Ravichandran (N.T. Ranga Rao in Telugu, A. Bachchan in Hindi). Though Adiseshan immediately realises that Ravichandran is none other than Sivaji, he is unable to prove this to the police due to the tangible evidence of Sivaji's 'death'. Ravichandran promises to avenge Sivaji's 'death' and eventually manages to corner Adiseshan in the terrace of his medical college and fights him. After their fight, Adiseshan is killed in a stampede.

The film ends with an epilogue which shows Sivaji's foundation's success, and India becoming economically and industrially successful.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The key people involved with the film – (from left to right) Actress Shriya Saran, director Shanker, producer AVM Saravanan, actor Rajinikanth and producer M.S. Guhan at the film's beginning.

The first filming schedule was at AVM Studios situated in Chennai, India on 28 November 2005. The film's launch was a secret event, with only pivotal members of the cast and crew being called for attendance for the event.[14] Shooting began at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad and the first shot taken was the Vaaji Vaaji song.[15]

Casting[edit]

Director Shankar was paid a record salary of INR 30 million for this project.[16] Music composer A.R.Rahman was paid a record salary of INR 20 million.[17] Actress Shreya was paid record salary of INR 3 million. About the leading lady for the film, there were initial speculations on who would essay the role. Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherji, Ayesha Takia,[18] Trisha, Nayantara and Jyothika were rumoured to bag the role.[19] However, the air was cleared when Shankar and Rajinikanth announced that Shriya Saran would essay the role as Rajinikanth's love interest.[20] The voice of Kanika, an actress, was used as a voice-over for Shriya.[21] Actress Sunaina was signed up to make a special appearance in the film, however the scene was later deleted and her role was left uncredited.[22] Nayantara, who had earlier acted with Rajinikanth in Chandramukhi (2005), was also signed up later to do an item number in the film.[23]

Names of Mohanlal,[24] Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Nana Patekar,[25] and Prakash Raj[26] cropped up for the portrayal of the antagonist's role in the film. Sathyaraj was also offered the role, but he declined it.[27] In March 2006, Suman was confirmed as the person selected to play the role of Adiseshan.[28] It was Shankar's idea again to adorn the character with spotless dhoti, shirt, shoes, a Rolex watch and Ray Ban sunglasses.[29] Prior to this, Suman had acted with Rajinikanth in Thee (1981).[30] In early 2006, the Tamil magazine Kumudam came out with a cast list that included mimicry artists, Cochin Haneefa, Chinni Jayanth and Mayilsamy.[31]

Development[edit]

Sketches by Thotta Tharani for the Sahana song

In 2005, Chennai's oldest operative studio,[32] AVM Productions, which was run by M. S. Guhan and M. Saravanan, approached Shankar in making a film under their production house. Utilizing the budget available from AVM, Rajinikanth was signed for the film. After consulting Sivaji Ganesan's family to avoid any issues with the film's name, the project was subsequently announced in August 2005.[33] The film was eventually named Sivaji, after Rajinikanth's name at birthSivaji Rao Gaekwad with a tagline, The Boss.[34]

The art director, Thotta Tharani suggested the use of Ramoji Film City to the director. The Vaaji Vaaji song was picturised with an intention to showcase a Babylonian palace.[15] The Sahana song was sort of a challenge to Tharani. After listening to the lyrics of the song which speaks of the four seasons, Tharani thought of using the idea he used in Japan. He made use of acrylic and glass with the former on the floor to allow dance movements. K. V. Anand, the cinematographer, seemed to have a tough time in lighting up these sets made of glass. Once he had the sketches and the idea ready, the technicians at the Film City created the sets. Tharani believed that the co-ordination with Anand was important. Tharani contributed to similar creations for the music shop where Tamizhselvi worked as a saleswoman, and the scene here being followed up with a fight sequence in an open-air theatre. Tharani's sketches and ideas came out in the form of a set of paintings titled, Unsung.[35]

Jaya Rajadevan, one of the film's assistant directors, sought an injunction in civil court to stop screening of the film for alleged plagiarism. Rajadevan claimed that he had written the film's story and had discussed it with Shankar's manager in 2005. Although the court sent notices to S. Shankar, among others, the screening of the film was not stopped.[36]

The fair look of Rajinikanth's character in the film was through a year's effort using computer-generated imagery which was performed by a Chennai-based firm. The color tone of one of the British dancers in the background of the Style song was used by these technicians.[37] French hair-stylist Sandrin Veriar Seth designed two different and distinct hair-styles for the regular film and 13 hair-styles for one of the songs.[38] Shankar had already completed filming one song when Manish Malhotra was approached for designing Rajinikanth's wardrobe. He was responsible for not just the regular costumes but also accessories such as shoes and jackets.[39]

Brinda choreographed the Balleilakka song in Wai, a hill station near Pune with hundreds of people for eight days. Shooting problems due to Rajinikanth's following in his native Tamil Nadu prompted them to choose Wai for the song.[40]

Release[edit]

The satellite rights of the film were bagged by Kalaignar TV for INR40 million (US$630,000)[41] The film was given a "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board.The film released in 800+ theaters worldwide.

Special screenings[edit]

Rajinikanth used his political affiliations to screen the film for several politicians. Rajinikanth flew to Hyderabad to showcase the film for the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, on 14 June 2007.[42] At the screening, Rajinikanth told the media that he would invite the Chief Minister, Rajasekhara Reddy, for a special viewing as well. Rajinikanth said that he had screened the film to current and former Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers, Dr. Karunanidhi[43] and Jayalalitha,[44] respectively, and that India's Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, was also keen to watch the film.[43] A private screening was shown to Amitabh Bachchan, as well.[45]

Box office[edit]

India[edit]

The film was supposed to be released on the Tamil New Year's day, 14 April 2007.[46] With post-production delays, the film was released worldwide on 15 June 2007. The Indian censor board certified the film on 17 May 2007 with a "U" certificate.[47]

M. Satyamoorthy, on 9 July 2007, sought to stop screening of the film, alleging that it defamed the Indian National Congress, a political party, as well as its President, Sonia Gandhi, and the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh. Satyamoorthy cited a scene in which portraits of Gandhi and Singh are visible behind Adiseshan's (the villain's) chair, implying he was a member of the Indian National Congress.[48] Satyamoorthy also claimed INR500 million (US$7.9 million) in damages from the film's producer, director and lead actor to be paid to the Tamil Nadu section of the party.[49]

The theatrical rights of the film were sold for INR26 million (US$410,000)[50] in Kerala and INR80 million (US$1.3 million) in Andhra Pradesh. Worldwide, the film was estimated to have been released in about 750 screens[51] and opened to near full opening.[52] Sivaji released in 16 screens in Chennai and grossed INR13.5 million (US$210,000) within the first four days, a new record then for Tamil cinema. The film was released in 303 screens in Tamil Nadu, 300 screens in Andhra Pradesh; 12 screens in North India and 145 screens across the rest of the world.[51][53] The film also debuted well in Kerala and in Bangalore. Despite protests from pro-Kannada groups, the film debuted in 13 screens.[54] In the national capital, New Delhi, the film debuted on 4 screens in PVR Cinemas.[55] Based on what the distributors claim, there was "overwhelming response to the film", with the number of screens increasing to 12 by the second week.[56] The film made a good debut in the nation's other metros as well such as Mumbai[54] and Kolkata.[57] Even in non-traditional markets for Tamil films like Pune[58] and Baroda,[59] the film made had a decent opening. The film grossed INR 40.7 million[60] in two weeks; INR 85 million[61] in five weeks and INR 100 million[62] in seven weeks in Chennai. The film earned a record distributor share of INR240 million (US$3.8 million) in its lifetime.

On 15 July 2007, AVM Productions, the producers of the film, announced their decision to dub the film in Hindi.[63] The dubbed version released in Hindi on 8 January 2010 in India, almost three years after the release of the original version named as "Shivaji the Boss".[citation needed]

International[edit]

Sivaji enjoyed huge success in the international markets. The film had a wide release with over 145 prints and in 200 theatres (Tamil Version alone) in over 20 countries across South East Asia, Europe, North America, GCC and Australia and others. This was one of the widest release for an Indian film in the international markets. The film has collected over $8.5 Million from the overseas markets. Internationally, Sivaji had good screenings in Malaysia[64][65] grossing over US$2 million in Malaysia,[66] Sivaji made a debut with 150 shows in Singapore.[67] In Sri Lanka, the film debuted across 70 screens with all 700 shows running at near 100% capacity.[68] In the Persian Gulf that contains a sizeably large Indian diaspora, the film opened to a good response.[69]

In Canada, the film released in 10 screens in 3 major cities along with special screenings for the Tamil diaspora in the smaller cities.[70] In United Kingdom, the film debuted on the box-office list at No.9 with earnings of about £14,000 per screen. It was the first Tamil film to enter UK Top 10. In United States, Sivaji was released in 24 screens with subsequent additions of 19 and 21 screens for the Tamil version and Telugu version respectively.[71] The producers of the film claimed that the film was going to be dubbed in Chinese and Japanese by Ayngaran International, the holder of international rights of the film.[63] The response in Cape Town was disappointing, while the box-office collections in Johannesburg and Durban allowed it to become the first Tamil film to feature in the South African box-office top 10.[72] Singapore Airlines bought a 3-month exclusive in-flight screening rights to the film, a first for the airline for any Tamil film.[73]

In the United Kingdom, 13 seconds of the film was cut[74] as the original film showed Rajinikanth throwing a firecracker into his mouth, lighting it and then spitting it out at Pattimanram Raja. This was done to enable the film to have a 12A rating, while the Ayngaran UK DVD release was uncut and was given an 18 rating by the BBFC. It was also the first Tamil film to be genuinely released on a 1080p High Definition Blu-ray disc.[75]

The overseas distributor Ayngaran International reported collections as follows: US$2,000,000, Canada $500,000, UK$750,000, Europe and Gulf $750,000, Malaysia $2,000,000, Singapore $750,000, Sri Lanka $1,250,000, Australia, New Zealand & Thailand $250,000.[76] Sivaji was released in South Africa in late July 2007 after six weeks of its release by the leading South African distributor Ster Kinekor with four prints and released in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.[77][78] It grossed $101,779 in its full run in South Africa.

3D conversion[edit]

A 2012 re-release, also known as Sivaji 3D, was created by re-mastering the original to Dolby Atmos and post-converting to 3D format and trimming down half an hour running time.[79] Sivaji 3D is the first Indian film to be launched with Dolby Atmos, a new audio platform.[80] The trailer of 3D version was launched in 13 August 2012 at Prasad Labs along with Rajinikanth.[81] The 3D version released on 12 December 2012 coinciding with Rajinikanth's birthday.[82]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Malathi Rangarajan of the The Hindu, in a review about the story, said that the lead character carrying out a rebellion against corruption was something "not be true to life". She concluded by saying that "the story sags towards the end". She, however, went on to appreciate the performances of the prominent actors, the soundtrack, art direction, photography and the animation from the film.[83] Ananth Krishnan, another review from The Hindu, a month after the film's release, said that the film "... presents an effective diagnosis of entrenched corruption but the rather disturbing remedy it offers is, good old vigilantism." It concluded by saying that, though the film did well at the box-office, the message of rejecting the corrupt system instead of reforming it was troubling.[84] TSV Hari of Hindustan Times said that the director, Shankar, was not creative enough for the film and added this by saying "Sivaji turns out to be a rehash of all his previous jingoistic claptrap efforts". It appreciated the other technical departments and suggested a good response at the box office.[85] The Times of India had a similar review about the story saying that "it had nothing new to offer" but promised it to be entertaining and gave it four stars.[86]

R G Vijayasarathy of Rediff summed the film by saying, "No logic, only Rajni's magic". About the story, he said, "Unfortunately, (the) message is lost in the maze of illogical and sometimes absurd sequences". The review, however, praised the performances of Rajinikanth, Shriya and Vivek and the technical crew.[87] A review from an entertainment portal appreciated the performances of the prominent actors and ingenuity of certain portions of the script. It, however, pointed out a couple of unconvincing instances in the script with the review eventually suggesting better screenplay and a complaint on the length of the film.[88] Another such portal thoroughly praised the plot, performances and other departments but ended snubbing the crude graphics at times.[89] A vernacular entertainment portal, referring to Rajinikanth, says that the film is "... an absolute celebration of one man who can make millions feel good about life just by walking in elegance, by stroking his hair, or just by being there on screen.[90] It goes to praise Vivek's comical interludes and adds by saying "though defying superhuman powers, the fights choreographed by Peter Heinz, and the extremely lavish sets created by Thotta Tharani stand out. Camera work of K. V. Anand is first rate throughout, Antony's editing crisp and Sujatha's dialogues are rock solid."[90] A. R. Rahman's score and Shankar's directorial abilities were also lauded in the review.[90]

Accolades[edit]

2008 National Film Awards
2008 Filmfare Awards South
2007 Vijay Awards

Legacy[edit]

In Telugu film Eega (2012), Sudeep is seen watching Sivaji in Television.[92] In a comedy scene from Guru En Aalu (2009), Vivek and M. S. Bhaskar imitates Rajni and Shriya respectively and did a spoof on song "Oru Koodai Sunlight".[93] Scenes were spoofed in Thamizh Padam (2010). Similar to scene from Sivaji, Siva meets a minister to report about the lack of water, he gives away his cycle to him. His unique way of signing documents is also based on Sivaji. A lady's laptop and its codeword is similar to Rajini's laptop from the film.[94]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Sivaji (soundtrack)

After some re-recording of the background score in Paraguay,[95] A.R. Rahman had been to London for additional re-recording.[95][96]

A month and a half prior to the film's official soundtrack release, three songs from the soundtrack were leaked into the Internet. The songs, however, were only unofficial with low quality, where the official versions were composed slightly different and sung by different artists.[97][98][99]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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