When King Lingeswaran is introduced in Lingaa, he is shown reading a book titled “The Hero of Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell (it’s historically wrong because the book was first published in 1949 and Lingaa’s story happens in 1939 – that’s a different story). This book is regarded as a seminal thesis on how the heroes are made in different cultures. Philosophers, sociologists, marketers, movie makers and film students revere this book. I was recently stunned when I read this book as it was prescribed by my lecturer to understand the story of brands.
The curious juxtaposition with respect to Rajini and the book is that his real life story follows the path of monomyth as proposed by Joseph Campbell. In fact, most of his post superstardom movies can be shown as an example of hero’s life as depicted by Campbell. There is one part which most of us wouldn’t want to happen to Rajini, the superstar – the end of the superstar. We want this super star to live forever with his superstardom. His movies are immortalised, but we want to immortalise this persona too.
Kochadaiyaan for instance is an attempt to revive his youthful exuberance through animation that failed miserably. Lingaa on the other hand proves why should we allow him to age gracefully and let him give up his superstar status. Lingaa is a typical Rajinikanth movie in which we see a fictional (or alternative history) take on Mullaiperiyar dam. King Lingeswaran, a collector and a small king give up everything to build a dam for Solaiyur to help the village during the British rule. His grandson (Lingaa) comes back to the same village after 70 years to fulfil a duty and what happens is shown in a usual Rajini way but sans the enthusiasm that we usually see in a Rajini movie.
There can be multiple reasons why Lingaa doesn’t work. The screenplay (KS Ravikumar) doesn’t engage you like the usual superstar movies. It doesn’t allow you to root for Rajini like you usually do in all of his movies. The lack of formidable antagonists, tired musical score by AR Rahman and lacklustre acting pile up the woes.
But above all, Lingaa is a feeble attempt to manifest every superstar fan’s dream. A dream where he does everything what his fans expect him to do. Over the past few years, these dreams have become a burden over his head. A handcuff made of adulations that he is not in a position to leave. This happened to superstars like Dev Anand and Amitabh. Dev couldn’t manage it while Amitabh moved and started taking graceful roles to suit his age and acting prowess.
Rajinikanth is an impeccable actor. His earlier movies and few scenes that you see in his later movies are testimonies to his brilliance. Nevertheless, as fans we don’t want him to leave his superstar status. I think its time we allow him to move on. Allow him to do roles that will make him enjoy his acting. We should allow him exit gracefully. Trust me, we will still love him the way we do now. We need to give him his space. A space where he can get back to doing roles like Chakravarthy (Netrikann) or Santhanam (6il irundhu 60 Varai). Why not a romantic comedy like Cheeni Kum or a complete villain role or something that will excite him as an actor. Why are we constraining him to do be a super star while he can do plethora of roles? Why are we still killing the actor in him?
There is a scene in Lingaa (the one scene I like the most) where the people from Solaiyur plead him to come back. They want to make him a king again and give back his wealth as he is living as a simpleton. He replies “I have seen that life and enjoyed it. I want to enjoy this as well”.
I believe there is a larger message for his fans too. We have to let go “Super Star” and bring back Rajinikanth. Let’s permit him to move on.
P.S: Ok Ok, I can hear the mind voice -‘Should we see the movie or not?” – To be honest, it’s slipshod effort to hold the superstar status of Rajinikanth in which KS Ravikumar miserably fails. A 1.5/5 and not a worthy watch.