Rakesh's movie talk

Maha Nadigan (2004)

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Written and directed by Shakti Chithambaram
Starring Sathyaraj, Ramesh Khanna and P. Vasu


Being a Sathyaraj fan, you will have a difficult task of having to face a lot of criticism.


True, Sathyaraj is no Kamal or Sivaji, and he can never be near Rajini in terms of charisma. But Sathyaraj is Sathyaraj, and there can be no other. To prove that, watch Maha Nadigan.


First the story. It takes familiar route Sathyaraj had taken in Amaithi Padai, except that this is in the film industry. Starting out as extra, he works his way, never straight, to become a full fledged star. Then, taking advantage of his stardom and his sharp wit, he becomes a politician, and finally the Chief Minister.


Think of Iruvar, add a little bit of Amaithi Padai, and, thanks to the director’s compatible writing skills, and mix it with Sathyaraj's own sarcastic sense of humour. This time, nobody is spared, even Sathyaraj himself. Everyone becomes victims of the director (and probably Sathyaraj's) jibe. Its part comedy, part spoof, part satire, and fortunately for Sathyaraj fans, a vehicle for him to show off his superb acting, dialogue delivery and mimicking skills.


And you want messages? How about loads of this: Stars should play their age (taking aim at himself there); TV Serials are special homes of pre/semi/post retired artistes; Politics and films are inseparable; respect the mass, especially the fan; there can never be an alternative to the original talents; there can rarely be a honest way of making it in films and politics; controversy sells; don't buy the publicity seeking I-Love-Tamil crap; etc.


I can go on, but I want to see the movie again, this time with the company of my brothers. In fact, it is best to view the movie that way. Never since the works of Crazy Mohan/Kamal Haasan, has dialogue been so crucial to the structure of a movie. Like those combination, you need to view this film again and again in order not to miss most of the jokes.


And there is an almost sadistic pleasure of watching Sathyaraj let the shit hit the fan. All our grouches, our criticism and our regrets about the Tamil film industry and politics generally are processed and spat out by Sathyaraj on our behalf. Throughout the film, he had his tongue firmly planed on his cheek. Humour is the best way to show finger, just ask comedian Vivek.


I read somewhere that Vijayakanth is going to bring certain issues pertaining to this movie up in their next Nadigar Sangam (Artistes Association, where Vijayakanth is the prez) meeting. He did not take to kindly of certain scenes where he had to take the potshots. Sathyaraj claimed that it was not him, but his character Vijayakanth should be questioning. Well, the chairman is not happy. Hey, the association’s election is coming up, and a bit of apology can get the boss back on the chair again, can't it?


The production value is as low as can be expected from most of Sathyaraj starrer these days. It is not exactly a low-budget movie, and it far from glossy glamorous piece of stale doughnuts reserved for the 'hot' young stars. This movie has meat in it, very tasty delicious, well-barbecued meat. Try it. You won't regret it.