Coming straight to the point, the movie was good. It was definitely not horrible. But, it was nowhere close to being great. Unfortunately, that is the minimum standard one expects from a Rajni flick. So, for all the hype that was created and for all the big names that the movie was made up of, Sivaji was more buss than Boss.
There were many things that I didnt like in the movie to varying degrees.
a.) Stalking - I hate movies that glorify stalking. This was a big turn off for me. The fact that every movie has its share of stalking is no justification. They are all wrong too and so is this (I still remember absolutely hating 7G rainbow colony while it seemed the whole world liked it). Stereotypical of stalking, the heroine falls for the hero after he spends significant time and money on stalking her. That was just too ridiculous for me to accept. To me, any possibility for this movie to have been great was dashed straight away.
b.) Comedy / seriousness mix - One major attraction in Rajni movies is the supposed power he wields and his dominance over his adversaries. Mixing comedy with such scenes is pretty stupid and robs the Rajni movie of the element that makes them the Rajni movie. For e.g., the scene were Rajni moves the villains documents in and out of the income tax office.
c.) Dance - Please Rajni, please. Please do not attempt to dance any more. While Shriya/Nayantara (Nayantara was surprisingly slim. Took a few seconds to recognize her) were elegance personified in their movements, Rajni had his foot rooted to the ground and made some ridiculous movements of his other body parts. It was horrible.
d.) Shriyas cleavage - For some reason, Sankar decided to have Shriyas cleavage displayed in almost every other scene she was there. Its nice and hot a few times but felt it was a bit of a overkill. The human anatomy is public knowledge and everyone knows how every part of her body will look like. Also, with skinflicks being the norm these days, these things are just a distraction for a Rajni movie.
e.) Too artificial settings - For some reason, I found the song backgrounds to be too artificial. I almost felt that the mountain and the grass were painted. I think this totally screwed the 'Ballelaika' song. I had great expectations for it after hearing to the audio.
f.) Contrived fight sequences - Some fight scenes were very contrived and I seriously got bored.
g.) Stupid ideas - Ideas like... 'ippudi irukura unga ooru, ippudi aayidum'.. & 'tamil nadum america'... are just downright stupid. Pouring tonnes of asphalt and concrete on our surroundings does not imply 'growth and development'. They also come with a tremendous environmental cost. Its not enough just for us to live happily here. Our sons/daughters, grandsons/granddaughters etc... should also be able to live reasonably here. While, I appreciate the intention of the director, I dont quite agree on his notion of development (which incidentally is the notion of a vast majority of people).
h.) Dumbed down finances - Mr. Shankar - you are no P.Chidambaram. Don't dumb down things in order to make it palatable to the masses. Black money is not as simple as you say and a plan displayed over the course of a few frames during the credits at the end is not gonna work in a country with a population more than 1 billion. Still, the desire of the director could be noted and appreciated.
While, the above list seems long enough to call the movie a junk, thats definitely NOT the case. There are quite a few nice things also. The Rajni charisma and persona saved the day in the second half while the Vivek one liners were amazing in the first half. Shriya was HOTTTTTTT. Some of the dialogues were pretty good. For e.g., 'Panni thaan da kootama varum, Singam thaniya thaan varum' was awesome. The delivery was also amazing. Imitation of many past/present co-artists was also pretty good. 'Billa Ranga Basha thaan' songs' visual sequences were pretty nice. Lastly, I especially liked the last fight sequence. Yes, it was a copy of Matrix but it was not a cheap imitation. Rajni could impose his persona and style on it and was able to pull it off in style. It was quite elegant and nice to watch.
Guess, the idea of taking the middle path between a Shankar movie and a Rajni movie backfired a little. It was like going to a very costly restaurant where out of fear that absolutely nothing should go wrong, the chef cooks it in a fashion that leaves you wondering why it doesnt taste as good as some way more cheaper restaurant even though almost everything in the food seem right.
Overall, it was good but not great.
* Idea from KG. (not from his post but obtained while talking to him)