Lessons from ‘Sivaji: The Boss’


SIVAJI: THE BOSS is a Tamil language film which first came out in 2007. It stars Indian megastar “Superstar” Rajnikanth, along with Shriya Saran in the lead actress role, Vivek in a supporting role and Suman as the primary antagonist.

I did not manage to catch the movie in the cinemas when it came out, but I did watch it when it was subsequently released on DVD.

Recently, on a long distance flight, I watched the movie again. It’s still very enjoyable even after all these years. Yes, the plot is predicable and does not stray from the winning formula of such movies. But one does not watch Rajnikanth movies for their plotlines. 

One watches them for the Superstar!


The film revolves around a well-established software systems architect, Sivaji, who returns home to India after years of working in the United States. On his return, he dreams of giving back to society by building a hospital and university for his community that will give free medical treatment and education to the people.

But the India he comes home to is rife with corruption. Sivaji had to bribe government officials in order to obtain the necessary approvals.

Despite this, he still could not stop businessman Adiseshan, played with villainous aplomb by Suman, from using his money and influence to ensure that politicians stop Sivaji’s projects, pushing our hero to the edge of ruin.

But Sivaji comes back from the brink. He flipped a coin and took “the path of the lion”. He decided to fight the system in his own way. He bent and sometimes broke the law in order to bring justice and do good for his people, since the system and the law hampered instead of facilitated justice and good. 

Through his efforts, he managed to transform his state and improved the lives of the many poor and downtrodden citizens.

Yet the system finally caught up with him. The government found evidence that he had used black money to finance his endeavours. 

They arrested Sivaji and imprisoned him. He was tortured in the lockup and almost lost his life his life in a nefarious plot to kill him while in police custody. Thankfully, the scheme was uncovered by another police officer who felt indebted to Sivaji.

But this is, at the end of the day, a Rajnikanth movie. And the Superstar will have the last laugh. Always. The movie ends with Adiseshan vanquished, and presumably, Sivaji continuing with his struggles for the common people.

In one memorable scene at the start of the movie, Sivaji was asked by his cellmate the crime which he committed to land him in lockup. He laughed and answered, “I did good for the people”.

Sivaji: The Boss is a fiction. But I do think that there are still things we can learn from the movie.

What will happen when the rule of law breaks down and becomes rule by law? What will happen when the organs of the State, when the institutions of government fail to carry out their duties independently, impartially and properly? What will happen when the system becomes so corrupted and broken, just like Sivaji’s India?

In Sivaji’s India, doing good will land you behind bars. In Sivaji’s India, good men and women are enemies of the law. In Sivaji’s India, one would need to walk outside the law to dispense justice and do good. In Sivaji’s India, it is not the State that fights for the people, but individuals like Sivaji and his friends.

In Sivaji’s India, people who want to change things and make things better must be willing to face the law and go to prison.

This is why citizens of any and every nation must strive to ensure that their country does not turn into a failed State like Sivaji’s India. And citizens must not let the state of affairs be such that we have to look for heroes such as Sivaji.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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