“Even with its faults, Lingaa is the Rajini entertainer you've been waiting for! ”
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Lingaa is how creativity would look like if creativity were the sketch of a famished dog drawn by a well-known political heir. Rajni jokes are fun, like the mega-size, nay Rajni-size, version of Chuck Norris jokes; but imagine dealing with those jokes on the screen, with an air of seriousness, like you were being forced to believe in the reality of those jokes at gun-point. The concept of the movie is based on Emperor's New Clothes, a story I read when I was a kid, about how everyone knows that the king is naked but no one dares to talk about it. Just kidding. I was referring to the fact that movies like these with superstars, far beyond their expiry date, portraying much-larger-than-life roles is not fun anymore.
Lingaa probably features the longest flashback in the history of cinema, so long it will test every ounce of patience that you have. It starts off with the present day Lingaa, a thief who manages to flick a 3 Cr worth necklace amidst sloppy security, using medieval age techniques; yes, magnet to get the keys, tea mixed with intoxicating stuff to put off the guy watching CCTV footage, fake fire and burglary alarms etc. By the time, the tedious robbery scene and entry song are over, you are already tired. We are the audience who watched Hrithik steal stuff in Dhoom 2 ages ago and still managed to scoff at it. Didn't we? KS Ravikumar has directed the movie and co-scripted it. Funnily, there is a plagiarism case on the script. Question is, where is the script? In fact, the case will be squashed once everyone realizes there is nothing new in the script, nothing that an 8 year old kid in school cannot cook up in a story-writing competition.
Lingaa now has to deal with a smart reporter (Anushka Shetty) who manages to bring him to her village, Singanoor, where Vishwanath garu plays the village headman and has a flashback to narrate about Lingaa's grandfather, from the time when the grand old man of Telugu cinema was just a kid. He manages to narrate the flashback from 1939 at the same pace as things were during those times. Lingaa(the grandson version), not wary of his ways, tries to steal the Shiva Linga in the village temple, made of precious stone and is punished with the long flashback about his grandfather's greatness, grandeur and largesse. By the end of it, he would want to just run away, tired of the flashback. But that would be so honestly real. This is a movie. So, he realizes how bad he has been all this while. There is a present day corrupt MP(Jagapathi Babu) to deal with, whose amazing master-plan involves.
The movie is all about one great man and his desire to do good to a village by giving up everything he has. See, not so original after all. Every modern super star (read aged heroes) have at least a dozen such stories to their credit. It is about an all-rounder who can fight dozen people in a moving train(who cannot with VFX and all), design the ultimate dam that can stand for a 1000 years, (yes, that is how it apparently got certified by the dam-inspector) and inspire the villagers to build it and leave without taking any credit for it. It is also probably the story of India's first live-in relationship, because the village girl (Sonakshi Sinha) who takes care of him, comes off with him so they could open a small-size dairy farm to feed more people. Of course their genes are powerful and enter the grandson version, who can jump from the top of a cliff onto a hot air balloon, like I jump out of bed in the morning, only with some amazing background score. The movie was meant to be an emotional saga, particularly when people realize the largesse of Raja Lingeshwara and shed tears as he feeds them and forgives them. That emotional scene with the villagers crying at their folly, is probably the most unintentionally funny scene in the history of cinema too.
The cinematography by R Rathnavelu was gaudy, a strange word to use for how things panned up on the screen, but that is close to describing it. The sets were lavish. A lot of effort probably went into the VFX, because there was too much of it. But, most of it will look amateurish to the eye that is bred on VFX-drilled popcorn movies from Hollywood.The Britishers in the flashback story looked comical, especially with their weird Telugu, bad costumes and funny make-up, which extends to other actors as well. It is not the Telugu that Britishers could ever speak. It is the Telugu that a person who has never spoken English all his life, would speak if he were asked to mimic the Britishers. You get my drift?
Had the one and half hour flashback been reduced to half hour and the rest of the movie reduced to another half hour, we could have probably survived the one hour long TV serial of sorts. But then, it went on forever. Years ago, Khuda Gawah was marketed as Big B's last movie as hero (he did break that promise through Sooryavansham). Khuda Gawah was cringe-worthy at most points. This is a similar movie of sorts, where everything from story to dialogues to fights and romance are outdated. Comedians like Santhanam and Karunakaran were utterly wasted, with nothing to do. The biggest surprise was AR Rahman's music. Probably, they did the mistake of telling Rahman the script of the movie, making him lose his mind. Only that could explain how pathetic the songs were. Lingaa would have been amazing if it were released 30 years back. In the present world, it could be called 'the best way to waste tons of money on a shirtless script'.