At the age of 64, Rajinikanth has decided to get out of his comfort zone. After the lukewarm responses to his last two films — the animated 'Kochadaiyaan' and the formulaic 'Lingaa', both released last year — the superstar is doing his next film with up-and-coming young director Pa. Ranjith, who is only two films old.
What's more, according to an article written by Sreedhar Pillai on FirstPost, Rajinikanth will, for the first time in years, play his age. His role is reportedly that of a senior don and rumours say that he "may not even have the regular conventional heroine in the film".
This is a first for the actor in over 15 years, who, during this period, has only done seven, largely formula-driven films with a coterie of his favourite directors that includes experienced filmmakers such as Shankar, KS Ravikumar, P Vasu, and Suresh Krishna. His successful films have usually relied on similar ingredients: his age-defying 'superstar' image, nubile young actresses who have acted as his love interests (despite being less than half his age), and over-the-top action sequences. While most of these films were wildly successful, his recent failures can be attributed partially — according to Pillai — to a failure to evolve according to the tastes and expectations of "new restless audiences".
"It's a significant move," says Sudhish Kamath, filmmaker and former film critic for The Hindu, in a phone conversation with HuffPost India. "Ranjith is an interesting young director who straddles both worlds: commercial as well as 'artistic' cinema. In Bollywood terms, you could call him, say, a younger version of a Tigmanshu Dhulia."
Ranjith has previously made the college romance 'Attakathi' (2012) and 'Madras' (2014). "His cinema is very rooted in Tamil culture," says Kamath. "He is particularly good at establishing credible milieus and bringing out the flavour of the region."
Trailer for Pa. Ranjith's 'Madras' (2014)
This time around, even the technicians involved in the film will be younger, fresher talents — including music director Santosh Narayan, cinematographer Murali G, and editor Praveen KL — and this is reportedly a sea change from what he has been doing for the past 15 years.
Pillai quotes an unnamed "veteran producer" who has worked with the star in the past as saying, "Rajini sir always first looks at his comfort level with the director, whether they would be able to deliver his larger than life image packaged to suit the mass taste." This 'larger-than-life' image, said the producer, was sustained with the help of the technical crews he would collaborate with, some of whom worked with him for years.
Hindi cinema has been witnessing what seems to be a revolution of sorts this year, what with atypical films like 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns' and 'Piku' scoring big at the box-office. Is this the beginning of a similar one in Kollywood?