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The Superstar strikes in style



Back to form: Chandramukhi, a treat for Rajini fans

The hiatus seems to have mattered little. Sporting the look of the `Annamalai' days, Rajnikant returns with Sivaji Productions' Chandramukhi' (U). The actor's charisma may be inexplicable but it clearly manifests itself in every frame of the film. In swift action and enjoyable comedy sense the Superstar shines bright, transporting you to the time when he thrilled filmgoers with many a clean humorous flick — `Thambikku Endha Ooru' to name one. Saravanan (Rajinikant) is a psychiatrist who returns from abroad to spend some time with his friend Senthil's (Prabhu) family. Senthil has just married Ganga (Jyotika) against the wishes of his mother (K. R. Vijaya). Meanwhile Senthil buys a palatial bungalow near the village and plans to live there. The place is said to be haunted. The mystery deepens and it lies in the hands of Saravanan to tackle all the eeriness that the folks in the house encounter.

Slightly frightening and definitely suspenseful, the enigmatic loose ends that you come across are tied into a cohesive whole in a fairly taut screenplay. It ought to be raining accolades for Vidyasagar, what with each number proving a gem. Ilaiyaraja and his own `Dhool' and `Ghilli' influence only enhance the aural impact. Great work!

The camera (Shekar V. Joseph) that roams on a large canvas is impressive. Nothing much happens in the first half.

The right looks

Rajinikant makes a marked deviation from the `Baba' look to adopt costume and hairstyle that will make his fans fall flat for him.

Pleasantly surprising is the fact that `Chandramukhi' has no trace of the Rajini brand of gimmicks or punch lines. Prabhu looks trimmer than he did in his recent films and his portrayal is flawless as always. But why does he have to treat Saravanan with such deference? You miss the camaraderie the two shared on screen in their two earlier films. Jyotika executes a neat show. As the psychologically traumatised Ganga, the role offers her scope, which she utilises appreciably. Nayantara's part as the heroine is limited in comparison but she acquits herself quite well. You expected much more humour from the Rajini-Vadivelu duo. Yesteryear actor Sheela's role is all fury and no fire. As you watch the film you cannot but admire the ingenuity of writer-director P. Vasu in choosing a story that is bound to sell and at the same time helping Rajini maintain his image of an invincible hero.Whether the inspiration comes from `Manichitrathaazhu' or whether the source is `Aaptamitra' is of little significance.

And whether it reminds you a little of one of Rajini's earliest films, `Aayiram Jenmangal,' is no contention at all. What matters is the Superstar's larger-than-life celluloid presence, and the euphoria it has created. The `Mannan' team proves a winner again.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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