The worst thing about becoming a superstar must be the unbecoming. It's 5 years and counting now, that Rajinikant's been perfecting the art of being wistful about hits. Will Basha happen again? Will Arunachalam happen again? Will Padiyappa happen again? And after Chandramukhi, it might not be entirely aiming too low to ask, heck, will Baba
Yes, like that
. Chandramukhi looks like a film made by someone who collects discount coupons. I mean, this is a Rajini film, man! Where's the grandeur, the vivacity, the flamboyance? Where's the roaring pandering to our capability for Rajini-worship? Where's the sheer joie de vivre
of a delightfully nonsensical Rajini flick that makes you clap, squeal and bounce around in ecstasy?
What meet the eye instead are cheesy graphics, frames bereft of the throbbing animation that characterizes each scene of superstar fare, and the pace of a thermometer that is not keen on doing anything. And at the end of the film, the preceding Films Division news reel appears to have a better moral: that the only way to make people watch some things is by government writ.
Anyway, Ishwar (Rajinikant) is a psychiatrist who sees fun in everything. That normally can't be a great thing, since it's never encouraging if even your psychiatrist thinks you are funny. To add to that, Ishwar can also read minds pretty accurately. The big problem with that is that most people have horrible grammar, and you can end up spending your whole life trying to correct the grammar in other people's thoughts. The film doesn't dwell upon this aspect of Ishwar's life, and, in retrospect, it would've been more interesting if it did. Anything
would've been more interesting.
Anyway, Ishwar is great friends with the super-rich Kailash (Prabhu), who's just bought a certified haunted mansion. Now this is a good idea if you don't want income-tax raids, or at least want to have a proper explanation for who the unaccounted wealth belongs to, but the full-time resident of this particular edifice, a certain Ms. Chandramukhi, likes her privacy.
So when Ganga (Jyothika), the wife of Kailash, in a spurt of ill-considered bravado, opens the room where Chandramukhi was locked 150 years back with the help of some mantras, the latter decides to make up for lost time and do whatever it is that ghosts normally do in 150 years. It starts with people seeing and hearing vague things, and running away frantically. And it is still just the first half.
The rest of the film deals with how Ishwar uses his psychiatric, scientific reasoning to brilliantly identify the root of the problem - that there is a ghost around. They have to save the family, and they have to do it very fast, since most of the audience is already leaving.
Even if the film were a standard-issue horror flick, it would've been tolerable. But the whole of the first half of the film is as blah as any first half can get, with poor cinematographic values, a plodding script and insipid comedy. There simply is no life - Rajinikant is far from a hoot, and doesn't have the kind of dialogues or mannerisms that we grew up thinking was the normal way humans behave. There isn't enough color, the thrills are too few, and the story doesn't revolve around Rajinikant, which is the absolute wrong way to make movies casting him.
There is no heroine as such, no romance, and no one character stands out. Jyothika, as Prabhu's wife and as the possessed one (there, the suspense!), plays a good part - there's a talented actress for you. All performances are fine, and the music is good. Yet, nothing makes this worth a watch.