August 19, 2002 
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Madhavan might take on Rajni's might
Run expected to revive Tamil industry

Subhash K Jha

Rajnikanth's latest film Baba is one of the most talked-about Tamil film in recent years. But the audiences' mixed response to the film seems to make it clear that Baba --- touted in Chennai's trade circles as the 'Devdas of Tamil cinema' --- might be a much smaller success than it was expected to be.

Rajnikanth's fans complain about the lack of finesse in the Rs 50 million film.

Though fans love Rajni's covert comments on Tamil Nadu's politics and his self-glorifying heroism, critics and the more discerning viewers feel Baba just does not have the raw material to live up to inflated expectations. Some cinegoers claim that Rajni's political ambitions shine through in the character of the reluctant sage. Others state that he is testing Tamil Nadu's political waters by playing a character with conspicuous political overtones.

For now, Rajni has no plans of going into politics. In fact, belying reports that he is retiring from films, the actor will do another film shortly to counter the Baba factor.

Though it is too early to say whether Baba is a disaster, there is gloom in the Tamil film industry as their 'saviour' did not deliver the expected results.

    All about Baba
Chennai wants Baba
There is no Rajni in Baba
To Rajni with love
The review
Rajni is back!


The primary outcome of this unexpected setback is that the Madhavan starrer Run will release earlier than scheduled. Though director Linguswamy had scheduled his film for a late September release, Chennai reports indicate that Rajnikanth's Baba --- his first film in three years --- is no longer perceived as a threat to other releases.

Run, which could be the dark horse of the season, has been rescheduled to release August 30 or September 6. The taut thriller about a small town boy (Madhavan), who takes on an underworld don (National Award-winner Atul Kulkarni) for the sake of love, is now being looked on as the potential blockbuster of the year in Tamil cinema.

Manisha Koirala, Rajnikant in Baba Along with Run, Madhavan also awaits the release of his second Hindi film, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar (which opens late September). The film involves two leading men, besides Madhavan --- Sanjay Suri and Jimmy Shergil. Madhavan's Hindi debut film, Vashu Bhagnani's Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein flopped at the box-office.

Madhavan's producers in Tamil Nadu feel that the actor will bring his box-office ratings by co-starring with second-row Mumbai actors. But Madhavan stands by his film. "I do not see Jimmy Shergil and Sanjay Suri as second-rankers," he says. "They are brilliant actors and I enjoyed working with them. Yes, the Tamil market is a bit, shall we say, humbled that I am not treated as a superstar in Mumbai. But even Kamal [Haasan] Sir and Rajni Sir couldn't get a grip on Hindi cinema. So who am I to break the Dravidian embargo?"

"I have worked with some brilliant actors and technicians, including director Anant Mahadevan with whom I did my biggest television serial, Ghar Jamai. What more could I ask for? It's a privilege to be in a film like Dil Vil Pyar Vyar. I enjoyed doing it far more than Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, which was a remake of my Tamil hit Minnale and, therefore, quite repetitive. Dil Vil Pyar Pyar is original and therefore, much more challenging."

Designed as a tribute to R D Burman's music, the soundtrack of Dil Vil Pyar Vyar has earned Rs 250,000 in the first three days. It has revived the slumping fortunes of the music company Sa Re Ga Ma (HMV), which recently lost heavily with expensive soundtracks like Yash Chopra's Mujhse Dosti Karoge.

Rajnikant [left] in Baba Will Madhavan rejuvenate the ailing Tamil film industry, with Run and the Hindi music industry with Dil Vil Pyar Pyar? The actor laughs. "No such thing. But I loved singing R D Burman classics like Yeh jo mohabbat hai and Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa. What a privilege! We three actors would fight about who would get to sing which R D number."

The affable actor praises his female costar, Namrata Shirodkar, too. "I've never worked with a better costar," he confesses. "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is up there with my two favourite Mani Ratnam films, Alai Payuthey and Kannathil Muthamittaal. By the way, I feel Simran deserved the National Award for the latter."


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