Opened: August 1 in India

CHENNAI, India -- Tamil actor Rajnikanth has grown uncomfortably large on the screen, but the attempt in "Kuselan" to cut that size down and picture him as a humble human despite his celebrity status, fails due to a shoddily written script. A remake of a popular Keralam movie, the Tamil version is inspired by a segment in the great Indian epic, Mahabharata, though set in modern times. "Kuselan" will immensely appeal to Rajnikanth's extraordinarily large number of fans, who treat him like demi-god.

The story is not quite about the demi-god though. Rather it's about a village barber, Balakrishnan (Pasupathy), who helps his poor childhood school mate, Kumar (Rajnikanth), achieve stardom. The friends later lose track of each other. While Kumar becomes a superstar selling dreams and sailing on clouds, Balakrishnan ends up styling men's hair, struggling to support his wife and three children. He never approaches Kumar, but when the star arrives at Balakrishnan's village for a shoot, the two meet.

Unfortunately, the hairdresser gets eclipsed by the star in a plot coated with gloss and exaggerations, including comic by-play bordering on idiocy. Pasupathy is as good, but the script, given its obsession for Rajnikanth, stops short of building his character into something remarkable.

Meena as Balakrishnan's wife, appears silly and standoffish in crisp costumes that are absolutely ill suited for her role. Nayanthara plays herself, a seductively glamorous star, but often her scenes appear quite out place in the narrative. Production values are superb .

Production companies: Kavithalaya and Seven Arts Films. Cast: Rajnikanth, Pasupathy, Meena and Nayanthara. Director: P. Vasu. Story: Sreenivasan. Producers: G.P. Vijaykumar and Pushpa Kandaswamy. Director of photography: Arvind Krishna. Music: G.V. Prakash Kumar. Costume designer: Nalini Sreeram. Production designer: Thotta Tharani. Editor: Saravanan. International Sales Agent: Pyramid Saimira Entertainment. No MPAA rating, 158 minutes.