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Chandramukhi (The moon-faced) is Tamil superstar Rajnikanth’s much-awaited magnum opus. Slated for an April 14 release this year, the film marks return of Rajni to the reel after a gap of more than three years.

The aging superstar decided on the making of Chandramukhi after spending an agonizingly long time scouting for a script that would click. Having been ‘bitten’ badly by his last flick “Baba”, which bombed at the box office, Rajnikanth was extra-cautious to get it right. The story and script of Chandramukhi got his nod of assent.

Incidentally, Chandramukhi is based on a Malayalam movie Manichitrathazhu, which was a super duper hit in Kerala. Its Kannada version, Aapthamitra, was a runaway success, too.

However, the film has had its share of controversies. A copyright controversy rocked it right away when Malayalam director Fazil, who directed Manichitrathazhu and producer-distributor “Swargachitra” Appachan filed a complaint against P. Vasu, director of Chandramukhi, with the Kerala Film Federation (KFF). Their charge was: “Chandramukhi” is based on their film “Manichitrathazhu”. Following the complaint, the KFF warned against distribution and exhibition of Chandramukhi in Kerala. So, unwittingly, the new Rajni film has got caught in a protracted legal battle.

The copyright controversy deepened with the original author of Manichitrathazhu, Madhu Muttom moving court against Fazil, Appachan and P. Vasu. His grouse was that he had not been paid for the right to remake the film in Tamil. Director P Vasu countered the argument, saying that “Chandramukhi” was no scene-by-scene remake of “Manichitrathazhu” and the plot has undergone marked changes.

In between, the original leading lady Simran found herself out of the prestigious project, leaving a trail of bitterness. The buzz was that since the script required the heroine to do some vigorous dance numbers, Simran, who was allegedly pregnant, would not stand the strain. So out went Simran, and in came Jyothika.

Despite these hiccups, shooting schedules of Chandramukhi went on apace in Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

Chandramukhi features another heroine as well in the form of upcoming Nayanthara, who made a superb debut in Tamil with Ayya.

It’s a dream break for Thara in Tamil, who made her debut in Malayalam filmdom. The grapevine has it that she even refused films against the likes of Mammootty and Jayaram to focus on her work in Chandramukhi.

Manichitrathazhu featured Mohanlal as a US-returned psychiatrist, who is drafted to investigate the unusual happenings in his friend’s (Suresh Gopi)'s house and treat his wife (Shobana) out of a mental illness with dangerous portents. Shobhana won the National Award for best actress for her stunning portrayal of the girl who empathizes with a murdered dancer, becoming in the process victim of a mental disorder that could have ruined her life.

Rajnikanth plays the psychiatrist’s role in Chandramukhi, which also has Prabhu and Jyothika doing important roles.

Chandramukhi is produced under the banner of Sivaji Productions. P Vasu wields the megaphone. He has also written the story, screenplay and dialogues. Vidyasagar is the music director.

Others in the supporting cast are Nasser, Sheela, Vadivelu, Vinaya Prasad, Swarna, Malavika, Vijayakumar, Avinash, Vineeth and K.R Vijaya.

Meanwhile, innumerable fans and admirers of ‘Rajni Sir’ are eagerly looking forward to the release of Chandramukhi. The touch of controversy has only added to the mystique and allure of the film, which will undoubtedly be a momentous milestone in the ‘hitful’ career of Rajnikanth. May be his swan song.

[Chandramukhi microsite]   [Chandramukhi review]   [Chandramukhi picture gallery]   [Chandramukhi cast & crew]

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