Sivaji (சிவாஜி) is a 2007 Tamil film, which was directed by S. Shankar and produced by AVM Productions. While Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran essayed the lead roles, Suman, Vivek and Raghuvaran play other significant roles in the film. A.R. Rahman composed the film's soundtrack and background music, while Thotta Tharani and K. V. Anand were the creative art director and cinematographer respectively.
The movie revolves around a well-established Software System Architect (Sivaji), who returns home to India after finishing work in America. 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 highly affluent and 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 not only released world-wide on June 15, 2007 in Tamil language, but also in Telugu as a dubbing version on the same date. The film, which released in many theaters worldwide, was set to be dubbed in Hindi and the release planned later that year. The industry estimates for the movie, which was the most expensive Indian film at the time of its release, ranged from Rs. 60 crores inclusive of Rajinikanth's salary of Rs. 20 crores. The film, which was Rajinikanth's 100th Tamil film, opened to a record breaking box-office reception across the globe despite a few controversies.
Meanwhile, Sivaji falls in love with a 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. However upon asking for his horoscope; the 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.
Adiseshan mocks Sivaji and gives him a one-rupee coin, challenging him to try and survive with just that. In an ironic plot twist using the very coin, Sivaji sets out to turn around his fortunes and ultimately exact his revenge on Adiseshan. Through just one phone call, payed for with the coin. He estimates that there is about INR Twenty Billion of illegal, untaxed money within the nation. He then uncovers details about people who have substantial quantities of illegal money and then blackmails each of them, obtaining half of their illegal wealth. Upon transferring the money to bank accounts (owned by friends and contacts) around the world, Sivaji informs the Income Tax Vigilance Department about the details of the illegal money held by the tax evaders (including Adiseshan). Sivaji's associates deposit the money sent across the world as donations to the Sivaji Foundation making the money legitimate and usable by the foundation. Sivaji begins to realize his dream of providing free, good quality education, services and employment to people in every district of Tamil Nadu. His adversaries seek to find out how he converted their illegal money to a usable form by threatening Tamizhselvi with danger to Sivaji's life. Fearing for him, she turns over his notebook PC with all the information regarding the various money transactions to the authorities. With presentable evidence, Sivaji is arrested and the scene returns to the beginning of the movie with Sivaji in central prison.
Adiseshan loses control when Sivaji refuses to open his laptop and assaults him in custody with a metal rod. In the process it seems Sivaji has died from the sustained injuries. To cover this up, Adiseshan organizes 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 electricutes himself. Dr. Chezhian (Raghuvaran) and Tamizhselvi intercept the police van (informed by Sivaji after he got the police man's own warning) and manage to cart away Sivaji's 'dead' body under the cover of a coach before the thugs could open fire. In Sivaji's stead they plant a dummy. While everyone believes that Sivaji is dead, Dr. Chezhian revives him using a defibrillator. After a few days when 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 Adhiseshan realizes that it is Sivaji himself, 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 Adhiseshan and challenge him. After their fight, Adiseshan is killed in a stampede. As a conclusion, the audience are informed of the foundation's success and fulfillment of Sivaji's dreams.
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. 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 (1980).
In early 2006, a magazine came out with a cast list that included mimicry artists, Cochin Haneefa, Chinni Jayanth and Mayilsaamy. The names of support cast for the movie 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.
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.
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 chose Wai for the song.
Worldwide, the movie was estimated to have been released in about 850-1000 screens and opened to near full opening. Sivaji was released in 16 theaters in Chennai and is reported to have collected 13.5 million INR within the first four days, a record of sorts for Tamil movies. In Tamil Nadu, the movie was released in 300 theaters while the dubbed version in Telugu was released in 340 theaters. The movie also debuted well in Kerala and in Bangalore. Despite protests from pro-Kannada groups, the movie debuted in 13 theatres. In the national capital, New Delhi, the movie 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 movie made a good debut in the nation's other metros as well such as Mumbai and Kolkata. Even in non-traditional markets for Tamil movies like Pune and Baroda, the movie made had a good opening. On July 15, 2007, AVM Studios, the producers of the movie, announced their decision to dub the film in Hindi because "the response has been phenomenal for the movie".
The movie has exaggerated and conflicting reports on the cumulative box-office collections worldwide. However according to Business today Nov 2007 edition the film gathered only about Rs.90 crores at the box-office, a record of sorts for south Indian films. Recently, a Silver Jubilee function was organized for the film which, in local parlance, symbolizes the box-office success of a film..
In the United Kingdom, 13 seconds of the film was cut as the original film showed the hero throwing a firework into his mouth, lighting it and then spitting it out at somebody else. 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 Ayngaran film to be released on Blu-Ray 1080p High Definition.
One review from Rediff.com summed the film by saying, "No logic, only Rajni's magic". About the story, it says, "Unfortunately, (the) message is lost in the maze of illogical and sometimes absurd sequences". The review, however, praises 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.
M. Satyamoorthy, on July 9, 2007, also 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 500 million INR in damages from the film's producer, director and lead actor to be paid to the Tamil Nadu section of the party.
A month and a half prior to the movie's release, three songs from the soundtrack got leaked into the internet.
2008 National Film Awards
|1||Balleilakka||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Reihana, Benny||6.08||Na. Muthukumar||An item song performed by Rajinikanth and Nayantara celebrating the return of Sivaji to Tamil Nadu.|
|2||Style||Blaaze, Tanvi, Rags, Suresh Peters||5.13||Pa. Vijay||Previously titled, Oru Koodai Sunlight. Another version was recorded without Suresh Peters. Shaggy was initially called in to sing the song.|
|3||Vaaji Vaaji||Hariharan, Madhushree||5.49||Vairamuthu|
|4||Athiradee||A. R. Rahman, Sayonara||5.47||Vaali|
|5||Sahana||Udit Narayan, Chinmayi||5.21||Vairamuthu||Another version was recorded with Sujatha in place of Chinmayi.|
|6||The Boss||Naresh Iyer, Blaaze, Raqueeb Alam||3.20||Na. Muthukumar, Blaaze|
|7||Sahara||Vijay Yesudas, Gomathishree||4.32||Vairamuthu|