An early pre-production poster.
|Directed by||S. Shankar|
|Produced by||M. S. Guhan
|Written by||S. Shankar
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Cinematography||K. V. Anand|
|Editing by||Anthony Gonsalves|
|Distributed by||AVM Productions
(India- except Andhra Pradesh)
Sri Sai Ganesh Productions
|Running time||185 minutes|
|Budget||60 crore (US$10 million)|
|Box office||128 crore (US$22 million) (2007 release)
75 lakh (3D format, 2012 release)
Sivaji is a 2007 Tamil action adventure drama thriller 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. It completed 175-day run at the box office. About 2 crore tickets were reportedly sold worldwide. This was the first Tamil film to beat the two-year record set by Chandramukhi.
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 June 15, 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 January 8, 2010. Satellite rights for Sivaji were sold for 4 crore to Kalaignar TV, ultimately enjoying success worldwide.
The film was converted into 3D and released on 12 December 2012 as Sivaji 3D, coinciding with the 63rd 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.
The film begins in medias res, with a masked person being brought to the Central Jail in Chennai, India. When asked by a fellow-inmate for the reason behind his imprisonment, the masked person replies that he is imprisoned for attempting to do good for the people. The masked person is revealed to be Sivaji (Rajinikanth).
The film then winds into a flashback that shows him returning to Chennai 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 the obstacles of a corrupt civil service. Sivaji pays the bribes demanded by the government officials for the greater good of the people, but at one stage, the bribes demanded become so high that he has to mortgage his house to pay them. He also faces another obstacle in the form of Adiseshan (Suman), an influential businessman and philanthropist, who sees Sivaji Foundation as competition, because he too runs educational institutions and hospitals which are profit-making centres for him. Using his political strings, he ensures the government repeals the permits they issued on the construction of Sivaji Foundation. Sivaji approaches a lawyer to fight his case, selling his own car to pay the lawyer's fee. However in court, he is forced to admit he bribed numerous officials. This undermines his case and the judge passes a stay order on the construction of Sivaji Foundation.
In parallel, Sivaji falls in love with an orthodox girl named Tamizhselvi (Shriya). Her family is initially scared and angered by the overbearing nature of Sivaji's family, though they eventually accede to Sivaji's request for Tamizhselvi's hand in marriage after a lot of persuasion. However upon asking for his horoscope, an astrologer predicts impeding doom leading up to Sivaji's death if the two are united. When Tamizhselvi refuses the proposal due to her concern for Sivaji, he calms her fears and manages to convince her to marry him.
Following Sivaji's loss in the court case, Adiseshan insults him and gives him a 1 coin, challenging him to try beggary for survival. Ironically, using this very coin, he turns the tables around and forms a plan. He uses the coin to make a phone call to Adiseshan, warning him about the next day's false income tax raid. Adiseshan packs up the black documents and shifts them to farm house. Sivaji blocks it, uses it in blackmailing Adiseshan to give him 1 billion (100 crore) and succeeds. Although sivaji is fulfilled with the money to continue producing Sivaji Foundation, he feels, If a single rich person has 2 billion rupees of black money then how much it would be in India. And plans to bring them out. He obtains details on people who have black money, and blackmails them to give him half of their illegal wealth. He then transfers the money to bank accounts (owned by friends and contacts) 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 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 arrested by the Income Tax department and brought to court. 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 to find out how he converted their illegal money to a usable form and for this they use the CBI. They take advantage of Tamizhselvi's innocence by threatening her with danger to Sivaji's life unless she reveals about how Sivaji converted the illegal money to an usable form. Fearing for him, she turns over his laptop with all the information regarding the various money transactions from people who had black money to his friends' bank accounts around the world. With presentable evidence, Sivaji is arrested by the CBI and the scene returns to the beginning of the film with Sivaji in the Central Jail.
In the jail, Adiseshan and the police force Sivaji to open his laptop as it has a voice recognition system. When Sivaji refuses, Adiseshan loses control and mercilessly assaults him, to the point that it seems that Sivaji had died 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 manage to cart away Sivaji's 'dead' body under the cover of a bus before the thugs could open fire. In Sivaji's stead they plant a dummy. 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, a blinded Adiseshan is killed in a stampede.
The film ends with an epilogue which shows Sivaji tipping of the Income Tax Department,arrest of tax evaders,money card and the foundation's success, and India becoming so economically and industrially successful that it becomes a G10 country.
- Rajinikanth as Sivaji Arumugam
- Suman as Adiseshan
- Shriya Saran as Tamizhselvi Ramalingam
- Vivek as Arivu
- Solomon Pappayya as Thondaiman
- Raghuvaran as Dr. Chezhian
- Cochin Haneefa as Kuzhanthai Velu
- Manivannan as Arumugam
- Vadivukkarasi as Mrs. Arumugam
- Pattimandram Raja as Ramalingam
- Uma Padmanabhan as Mrs. Ramalingam
- Nayantara in an item number
- Kanal Kannan in a cameo appearance
- Mayilsamy in a cameo appearance
- Chinni Jayanth in a cameo appearance
- Dhamu in a cameo appearance
- S. Shankar in a cameo appearance
- K. V. Anand in a cameo appearance
- Thotta Tharani in a cameo appearance
The first filming schedule was at AVM Studios situated in Chennai, India on November 28, 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. Shooting began at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad and the first shot taken was the Vaaji Vaaji song.
About the leading lady for the film, there were initial speculations on who would essay the role. Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherji, Ayesha Takia, Trisha, Nayantara and Jyothika were rumored to bag the role. However, the air was cleared when Shankar and Rajinikanth announced that Shriya Saran would essay the role as Rajinikanth's love interest. The voice of Kanika, an actress, was used as a voice-over for Shriya. Actress Sunaina was signed up to make a special appearance in the film. The scene was later deleted and her role was left uncredited; the same occurred for Vinu Chakravarthy. Nayantara, who had earlier acted with Rajinikanth in Chandramukhi (2005), was also signed up later to do an item number in the film.
Names of Mohanlal, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Nana Patekar, and Prakash Raj cropped up for the portrayal of the antagonist's role in the film. Sathyaraj was also offered the role, but he declined it. In March 2006, Suman was confirmed as the person selected to play the role of Adiseshan. The director, Shankar, realized that Suman lacked the wry smile needed for his character. This conspicuous smile of Adiseshan was made possible with a denture. It was Shankar's idea again to adorn the character with spotless dhoti, shirt, shoes, a Rolex watch and Ray Ban sunglasses. Prior to this, Suman had acted with Rajinikanth in Thee (1981).
In early 2006, a magazine came out with a cast list that included mimicry artists, Cochin Haneefa, Chinni Jayanth and Mayilsamy. The names of support cast for the film was released in a phased manner. By mid-2006, Manivannan, M. S. Baskar, Livingston, Vadivukarasi, Pyramid Natarajan, Uma Padmanabhan, Pattimandram Raja, Vannakam Thamizhuzhagam Revathi, Solomon Pappayya, Muthukaalai, Nellai Siva, Bose Venkat and M'Sia Prabhu were selected for the film.
In 2005, Chennai's oldest operative studio, 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. The film was eventually named Sivaji, after Rajinikanth's name at birth - Sivaji Rao Gaekwad with a tagline, The Boss.
The art director, Thotta Tharani suggested the use of Ramoji Film City to the director. The Vaaji Vaaji song was picturized with an intention to showcase a Babylonian palace. 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 coordination 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 theater. Tharani's sketches and ideas came out in the form of a set of paintings titled, Unsung.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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 June 14, 2007. 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 and Jayalalitha, respectively, and that India's Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, was also keen to watch the film. A private screening was shown to Amitabh Bachchan, as well.
The film was supposed to be released on the Tamil New Year's day, April 14, 2007. With post-production delays, the film was released worldwide on June 15, 2007. The Indian censor board certified the film on May 17, 2007 with minor screen and dialogue cuts, although the exact details of these cuts were not officially revealed.
M. Satyamoorthy, on July 9, 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. Satyamoorthy also claimed 50 crore in damages from the film's producer, director and lead actor to be paid to the Tamil Nadu section of the party.
The theatrical rights of the film were sold for 2.6 crore in Kerala and 8 crore in Andhra Pradesh. Worldwide, the film was estimated to have been released in about 750 screens and opened to near full opening. Sivaji was released in 16 theaters in Chennai and is reported to have collected 1.35 crore within the first four days, a record of sorts for Tamil films. 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. The film also debuted well in Kerala and in Bangalore. Despite protests from pro-Kannada groups, the film debuted in 13 theatres. In the national capital, New Delhi, the film debuted on 4 screens in PVR Cinemas. 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. The film made a good debut in the nation's other metros as well such as Mumbai and Kolkata. Even in non-traditional markets for Tamil films like Pune and Baroda, the film made had a decent opening. The film grossed 4.07 crore in two weeks; 8.5 crore in five weeks and 10 crore in seven weeks in Chennai. The film earned a record distributor share of 37 crore in its lifetime.
On July 15, 2007, AVM Productions, the producers of the film, announced their decision to dub the film in Hindi because "the response has been phenomenal for the movie". The dubbed version released in Hindi on January 8, 2010 in India, almost three years after the release of the original version named as "Shivaji the Boss"
Internationally, Sivaji had good screenings in Malaysia with reports of the film causing a riot to break out in three states due to delays and cancellations of the screenings. The film eventually was released in residential suburb by a local minister, it gross 8 million in Malaysia, Sivaji made a debut with 150 screenings of the film in Singapore. In Sri Lanka, the film debuted across 70 theatres with all 700 shows running at near 100% capacity. In the Persian Gulf that contains a sizeably large Indian diaspora, the film opened to a full house. Owing to the enthusiasm, a non-profit organization distributed 1,000 free tickets to laborers and domestic help across Dubai enabling them to watch the film.
In Canada, the film released in 10 screens in 3 major cities along with special screenings for the Tamil diaspora in the smaller cities. It also became the first Tamil film to be screened for over 100 consecutive days in Toronto at two Cineplex theatres. In United Kingdom, the film debuted on the box-office list at # 9 with earnings of about £14000 per screen - the highest screen average in 2007. It was the first South Indian film to enter UK Top 10. In United States, Sivaji was released in 24 theaters with subsequent additions of 19 and 21 theaters for the Tamil version and Telugu version respectively. 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. 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. Singapore Airlines bought a 3-month exclusive in-flight screening rights to the film, a first for the airline for any Tamil film.
In the United Kingdom, 13 seconds of the film was cut 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.
By the end of four weeks, Sivaji has reportedly collected US$9.25mn in all the overseas markets according to the official collection report from the overseas distributor Ayngaran International. The box office collection as per the report are as follows: US $2mn, Canada $0.5mn, UK $0.75mn, Europe and Gulf: $1.5mn, Malaysia: $2mn, Singapore:$0.75mn, Sri Lanka: $1.25mn, Australia, New Zealand & Thailand: $0.25mn. 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. It grossed $101,779 in its full run in South Africa. The film is estimated to have collected a little over US$10 million from all the overseas markets by the end of its run.
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. Sivaji 3D is the first Indian film to be launched with Dolby Atmos, a new audio platform. The trailer of 3D version was launched in August 13, 2012 at Prasad Labs along with Rajinikanth. The 3D version released on 12 December 2012 coinciding with Rajinikanth's birthday.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Another such portal thoroughly praised the plot, performances and other departments but ended snubbing the crude graphics at times. 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. 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." A. R. Rahman's score and Shankar's directorial abilities were also lauded in the review.
- 2008 National Film Awards
- Won — Silver Lotus Award for Best Special Effects - M.S. Indian Artists, Chennai
- Won — Filmfare Award for Best Music Director — A.R. Rahman
- Won — Filmfare Award for Best Cinematographer — K. V. Anand
- Won — Filmfare Award for Best Comedian — Vivek
- Won — Filmfare Award for Best Villain — Suman
- Won — Filmfare Best Art Director Award (South) — Thotta Tharani
- Nominated — Filmfare Award for Best Actor — Rajnikanth
- Nominated — Filmfare Award for Best Film — Sivaji
- Nominated - Filmfare Award for Best Playback Singer Female - Chinmayi
- 2007 Vijay Awards
- Won — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero — Rajnikanth
- Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Heroine — Shriya Saran
- Won — Vijay Award for Best Music Director — A.R. Rahman
- Nominated - Best Playback Singer Female - Chinmayi
- Nominated - Best Playback Singer Male -
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.
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