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Sivaji (film)

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Sivaji
Sivaji The Boss.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by S. Shankar
Produced by M. S. Guhan
M. Saravanan
Written by Sujatha Rangarajan (dialogue)
Screenplay by S. Shankar
Starring Rajinikanth
Shriya Saran
Vivek
Suman
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography K. V. Anand
Edited by Anthony Gonsalves
Production
company
AVM Studios
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 INR600-780 million[a]
Box office INR1.28 billion[4]

Sivaji is a 2007 Indian Tamil action film directed by S. Shankar and produced by AVM Productions. Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran play the lead roles, with Suman, Vivek and Raghuvaran playing other significant roles in the film. A. R. Rahman composed the soundtrack and background music, while Thotta Tharani and K. V. Anand were the film's 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 was also dubbed in Hindi, which released on 8 January 2010. The film was a commercial success worldwide. The film was converted into 3D and released on 12 December 2012 as Sivaji 3D, coinciding with the 62nd birthday of Rajinikanth. 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]

Sivaji (Rajinikanth), an Indian software systems architect, returns from the United States to India. 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, Adiseshan (Suman), an influential businessman, sees Sivaji Foundation as competition, because he runs profit-making educational institutions and hospitals. Sivaji is forced to bribe the corrupt civil service, 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.

At the same time, Sivaji falls in love with a girl named Tamizhselvi (Shriya Saran). 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, Tamizhselvi breaks her promise to him. Sivaji is reduced to poverty. In revenge, Sivaji acquires evidence of INR 2 billion worth of illegal earnings in the possession of Adiseshan and uses the documents to blackmail him into giving him half the money. He further obtains details on people who have similar amounts of illegal earnings across 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 "hawala" forgery. They then deposit the money as donations to the Sivaji Foundation, making the money usable and legitimate.

Sivaji then informs the Income Tax Investigation and Vigilance Department about the details of the illegal money held by the tax evaders (including Adiseshan). He reopens the foundation, and soon is able to provide free, good quality education, infrastructure, services and employment to people in every district of Tamil Nadu. Led by Adiseshan, those who he blackmailed 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.

At the jail, Adiseshan and the police force Sivaji to unlock his laptop. When Sivaji refuses, Adiseshan assaults him, leaving him for dead. To cover this up, Adiseshan and the police organise for thugs to shoot at the police van that will carry Sivaji's corpse, making it look like murder by a third party. Sivaji, is faking; 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 trying to fool the voice-detection program; 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. Though Adiseshan immediately realises that Ravichandran is actually 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. Sivaji's foundation later becomes a major success, and India becomes economically and industrially successful.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Following the success of his film Jeans (1998), S. Shankar wrote a screenplay and a story suitable for a film, which later became Mudhalvan (1999), with Rajinikanth in the lead role.[7] However, Rajinikanth could not act in the film due to schedule conflicts with Padayappa (1999).[8]

In 2005, Rajinikanth signed up for his next film which was to be produced by Chennai's oldest operative studio, AVM Productions, which was run by M. S. Guhan and M. Saravanan.[9] Shankar was confirmed to be the film's director.[10] After consulting Sivaji Ganesan's family to avoid any issues with the film's name, the project was subsequently announced in August 2005.[11] The film was titled Sivaji,[11] after Rajinikanth's name at birth – Sivaji Rao Gaekwad.[12] A tagline, The Boss, which stands for "Bachelor Of Social Service", was suffixed to the title.[12]

Sivaji was also Rajinikanth's 154th film and his ninth film with AVM Productions.[10] Shankar was paid a salary of INR30 million for working in the film.[13] Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya worked as a graphic designer, creating the title for this film; she had earlier worked on Baba (2002) and Chandramukhi, both featuring her father.[14]

Casting[edit]

In October 2005, Shankar and Rajinikanth announced that Shriya Saran would play the female lead role of Rajinikanth's love interest.[15] The voice of Kanika, an actress, was used as a voice-over for Shriya.[16] 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.[17] Nayantara, who had earlier acted with Rajinikanth in Chandramukhi (2005), was also signed up later to do an item number in the film after attempts to sign Asin had failed.[18][19] Tha. Prabhu Raja Cholan, who would later direct the film Karuppampatti (2013), worked as an assistant director in Sivaji.[20]

Names of Mohanlal,[21][22] Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Nana Patekar,[23] and Prakash Raj[24] cropped up for the portrayal of the antagonist's role in the film. Sathyaraj was also offered the role, but he declined it.[25] In March 2006, Suman was confirmed to play the role of the antagonist Adiseshan.[26] He removed his moustache for the role, and Shankar instructed designer Nandini to give the character a spotless dhoti, shirt, shoes, a Rolex watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses.[27] Prior to this, Suman had acted with Rajinikanth in Thee (1981).[28] A popular film distributor, Subbu Arunachalam dubbed for Suman's character.[29] Debate speakers Solomon Pappaiah and Pattimandram Raja were selected to play supporting roles making their cinematic acting debut, with the latter portraying the role of the father of Shriya Saran's character.[30] Vadivukkarasi and Manivannan were selected to play Rajinikanth's parents.[31][32] Raghuvaran appeared in a small role as a doctor.[33]

Filming[edit]

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.[34] Shooting began at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad and the first shot taken was the Vaaji Vaaji song.[35][36]

The art director, Thotta Tharani suggested the use of Ramoji Film City to the director. The song "Vaaji Vaaji" was picturised with an intention to showcase a Babylonian palace, the song was shot in eight days with 50 feet sets.[35][36] The song "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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[36] Tharani's sketches and ideas came out in the form of a set of paintings titled, Unsung.[38]

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 Shankar, among others, the screening of the film was not stopped.[39]

The Guggenheim Museum, symbol of modern Bilbao seen in the song "Style"

The fair look of Rajinikanth's character in the film was through a year's effort using computer-generated imagery which was performed by the Chennai-based firm Indian Arts. The colour tone of one of the British dancers in the background of the "Style" song was used by these technicians.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42][43]

Brinda choreographed the song "Balleilakka" in Wai, a hill station near Pune with hundreds of people for eight days. Shooting problems due to Rajinikanth's following in Tamil Nadu prompted them to choose Wai for the song.[44] In February 2006, the Sivaji team headed out to Bilbao, Spain to shoot the song titled, "Style". However Prabhu Deva, the choreographer could not make the journey as he was busy directing in his directorial debut venture, Pokkiri. Replacing Prabhu Deva, was his brother, Raju Sundaram, who unlike Deva stopped directing his film, Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram, and joined the crew only to be later fired by the other film's producers.[45]

In August 2006, shooting took place in Binny Mills, in the outskirts of Chennai.[46] At Binny Mills, key fight sequences and a song was filmed, the sets were made to look like Venice in Italy.[47] However, Kannal Kannan left the project controversially citing differences with the director, he was eventually replaced by Peter Hein, a former member of Kannan's fight troupe.[48]

Themes and influences[edit]

Many critics stated that the theme of the film has been inspired from director's previous films Gentleman (1993) and Mudhalvan (1999).[49] The film deals with the concept of corruption and money laundering and how the film's protagonist employs methods to get rid of those elements.[50]

Sivaji, who is a software engineer is frustrated with the corruption in India which is shown in the scene where he watches the pitiable condition of poor people stating that: "The rich get richer, the poor get poorer".[51] Sivaji's love for his country is also illustrated in a scene where he is advised by his uncle to go back to abroad but he says "Where else will I go? This is home ?"[52]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Sivaji (soundtrack)

After some re-recording of the background score in Paraguay,[53] A.R. Rahman had been to London for additional re-recording.[53][54]

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.[55][56][57]

Release[edit]

The television rights of the film were sold to Kalaignar TV for INR 40 million.[58] The film's distribution rights, as distributed by AVM Productions to various companies are INR3.5 crore (US$550,000) for the selling of rights to Kerala, INR14 crore (US$2.2 million) for Andhra Pradesh and INR13.95 crore (US$2.2 million) for the rights to Ayngaran, an international Tamil film distributor. Sivaji was awarded a "U" (Universal) rating by the Central Board of Film Certification, only cutting three scenes — a suggestive dialogue by Vivek and two scenes of close up views of Shriya Saran's navel and cleavage.[59] The trailer was released by CNN-IBN on 30 May 2007 lasting for three minutes.[60] The official trailer was released by AVM to Galatta.com, the official online sponsor and Ayngaran International.[61] The film was supposed to be released on the Tamil New Year's day, 14 April 2007,[62] but due to post-production delays, the film was released worldwide on 15 June 2007.[63] On 15 July 2007, AVM Productions, the producers of the film, announced their decision to dub the film into Hindi.[64][65]

M. Satyamoorthy, on 9 July 2007, sought to stop the film being screened, claiming 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 that he was a member of the Indian National Congress.[66] 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.[67]

Special screenings[edit]

Rajinikanth used his political affiliations to screen the film for several politicians. He went to Hyderabad to showcase the film for the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, on 14 June 2007.[68] 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[69] and Jayalalitha,[70] respectively, and that India's Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, was also keen to watch the film.[69] A private screening was also shown to Amitabh Bachchan.[71]

3D re-release[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 cutting half an hour of running time.[72] Sivaji 3D is the first Indian film to be launched with the new Dolby Atmos platform.[73] The trailer of 3D version was launched in 13 August 2012 at Prasad Labs along with Rajinikanth.[74] The 3D version released on 12 December 2012, coinciding with Rajinikanth's birthday.[75]

Box office[edit]

The theatrical rights of the film were sold for INR26 million (US$410,000)[76] 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.[77] The film opened to virtually full cinemas.[78] Sivaji 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.[77][79] It was released in 16 screens in Chennai and grossed INR13.5 million (US$210,000) within the first four days, at that point a new record for Tamil cinema. The film also debuted well in Kerala and in Bangalore. Despite protests from pro-Kannada groups, the film debuted in 13 screens.[80] In the national capital, New Delhi, the film debuted on 4 screens in PVR Cinemas.[81] 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.[82] The film made a good debut in the nation's other metros as well such as Mumbai[80] and Kolkata,[83] as well as in other non-traditional markets for Tamil films such as Pune[84] and Baroda,.[85] The film grossed INR 40.7 million[86] in two weeks; INR 85 million in five weeks,[87] and INR 100 million in seven weeks in Chennai.[88]

Sivaji was also successful in 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, one of the widest release for an Indian film in the international markets. Internationally, Sivaji had good screenings in Malaysia[89][90] grossing over US$2 million in Malaysia,[91] Sivaji made a debut with 150 shows in Singapore.[92] In Sri Lanka, the film debuted across 70 screens with all 700 shows virtually sold out.[93] In the Persian Gulf that contains a sizeably large Indian diaspora, the film opened to a good response.[94] The film has collected over $8.5 Million from the overseas markets.

In Canada, the film released in 10 screens in 3 major cities along with special screenings for the Tamil diaspora in the smaller cities.[95] In United Kingdom, the film debuted on the box-office list at No.9 with earnings of about £14,000 per screen and 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.[96] 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.[64] 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.[97] Singapore Airlines bought a 3-month exclusive in-flight screening rights to the film, a first for the airline for any Tamil film.[98]

In the UK, 13 seconds of the film was cut.[99] The original film showed Rajinikanth throwing a firecracker into his mouth, lighting it and then spitting it out at Pattimanram Raja, which was removed to give the film a 12A rating, The Ayngaran UK DVD release was uncut and given an 18 rating by the BBFC. It was also the first Tamil film to be officially released on a 1080p High Definition Blu-ray disc.[100]

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.[101] 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.[102][103]

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, appreciated the performances of the prominent actors, the soundtrack, art direction, photography and the animation.[104] 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.[105] T. S. V. 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.[106] 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.[107]

R G Vijayasarathy of Rediff.com 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.[108] Arun Gopinath of Behindwoods.com, 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.[109] 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."[109] A. R. Rahman's score and Shankar's directorial abilities were also lauded in the review.[109] Sify wrote: "There is only one hero here, [..] - Rajni himself. Such is the overpowering screen presence of his cinematic charisma in every frame of the film. The film works big time as Shankar has made the film on a grand scale, [..] which is a visual treat with superbly choreographed action scenes. All this comes with top-of-the line techno-finesse, perhaps the best ever in Tamil cinema" and also wrote that "Technically, [..] a revelation [..] there are stunning visuals, which is paisa vasool. K.V.Anand's cinematography is top class. Art director Thotta Tharani work is enticing, especially the sets in songs".[49]

Accolades[edit]

2008 National Film Awards[110]
2008 Filmfare Awards South[111]
2007 Vijay Awards[112]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Economic Times claims the budget to be 600 million.[1] The Telegraph estimated it to be 700 million,[2] while India Today claimed it to be 780 million.[3]
  2. ^ The Kanjira, Khanjira or Ganjira, a South Indian frame drum, is an instrument of the tambourine family.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) - 7days - Starry starry might". Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
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  4. ^ "Rajinikanth's overseas market doubles from Sivaji". Economic Times. 23 October 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Sivaji (DVD): clip from 2.06 to 2.23
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Sivaji (DVD): clip from 3.05.45 to 3.05.58
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