In a way Endhiran still works like a Rajini-fan list:
Rajini in multiple getups. Check.
Rajini in uptodate chic costume. Check.
Rajini in awesome fight sequence. Check.
Rajini in beautifully shot song sequences. Check.
Rajini with gorgeous, but actress half his age. Well…check.
Rajini in Baba (film) look. Check. Okay, this is my wish, so be it.
Rajini doing verbal spar with bad guy. Check.
Last and not the least of recent times….
Rajini as bad guy. Awesome check. But more to that later.
So, there you go. With one exeption. Some of wishes fulfilled are not don(e) by a human character.
Here’s a checklist not fulfilled at all
Rajini spitting out punch dialogues.
Rajini eulogised by supporting characters.
Rajini (human) doing extraordinarily superhuman feats.
And you still have most Rajini fans coming back for second round of helping, because there are lots and lots of Rajini in this film. Mind you, not the heavy duty Rajini that I am fond of, the Rajini of Mullum Malarum, Johnny, Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai, Dharmadurai or Talabathi, but much simpler but effective Rajini of Netrikann, Mundru Mugam, Muthu, and to an extend, to me, Baba. But more on him later.
The film picks up straight inside scientist Vaseegaran’s (Rajini) lab where we see him constructing a robot (refered to as Robo in Tamizh, maybe adhereing to silent “T’, those damned influential French). We see the robot turning out to be more refined version of Vaseegaran himself, a herculian efforts by no means because according to Shankar hardworking brilliant scientists not only neglects his family members and girlfriend but also neglects appointment with barber. By the time Vaseegaran is done building the robot, he looks like brunette Captain Caveman. Oh, the neglect girlfriend part and making the robot looking like him sort of points to the certain psychological complex, but Shankar is lot more simpler-minded than that. (Re: Anniyan and juvenile theory of split personality).
So, you have a Robot, a machine, which is later compelled to pick up human qualities, you know, to love, to cry, like many bleeding hearts of Hollywood computers and machines aspired to be since the time Kubrick introduced us to HAL, a red light thingy with irritiating voice. And so the robot acquires heart and immediately falls in love with the scientists girlfriend. I suppose he is basically getting back at his creator because the scientist’s mom gave him one of the silliest names in this side of hemisphere, Chitti…short for Chitti Babu. It’s like calling a
And so begins unfortunate love triangle which is too weird to begin with because it’s the scientist, his lover, and his creation which is based on himself in the first place. It’s like love triangle between a single man, his girlfriend and his self-persuasive nocturnal habits. Oh well…anyway, all hell breaks loose when Vaseegaran had to get rid of Chitti by totally melting him in a extreme heat till everything is melted.
Who am I kidding.
He throws it in a dumpster. The one that get picked up by garbage men and thrown on mountainous pile screaming for assembly of dismantled parts joined by acidic garbage juice where the robot rises…hahaha. What a juvenile imagination this review has. Oh wait, that actually happens and the risen re-asssembled robot ends up in the bad guys’ car. The rest is good machine end up in bad guys’ hand and goes beserk formula that
But wait, does it mean the film sucks big time. Truth to be told the script is predictable as many Shankar films would remind you. You have seen these scenes in other films by Bay/West/Emmerich, but thanks to Shankars’ own association with writer Sujatha, there is something very south Indian about this film in terms of clash of culture, the need for the machines to understand this side of ethics, morals, question of spirituality vs science. All south Indian. This is chunky piece of juicy lamb chop served on banana leaf with Sambar and coconut chutney. Do your maths.
So, are there really crappy scenes as it is synonymous with Shankar films? Sure, this is science fiction and it’s okay to have idiotic scenes in a sci-fi flick, but usually they are done knowing well that fast forward they would not be laughed because it has been done already. But some scenes in Endhiran like the one involving mosquitoes and its immediate brethren, the monstrously moronic climax are insults to an otherwise what could have been an explosive start of the genre to the Tamizh film industry.
Is there a message that Shankar is trying to ram down our throats like his previous films? Well, maybe, but fortunately, in this film, Shankar is not condoning murdering corrupt file clerk or deep frying greedy caterer. He is basically saying that science, if not used responsibly, can ruin your breakfast, destroy your lunch and practically take you to the cleaners before your tea time. It’s one thing we can agree with having had dealt with faulty toasters, self deluding TV sets and of course, can you remember how many time you had to reboot your computer? The lesson learned is, keep on/off or reboot button nearby and deal with it in a jiffy. Unfortunately, this lesson, which
You maybe wondering why I keep bringing
…Rajini….yes it’s Rajini’s show all the way, but more on him later.
How does the visual effects measure up since it’s the most hyped about thing after Shankar, Aiswarya Rai, A.R. Rahman and Rajini. Well, let’s say it ranged from really fantastic to Cartoon Network standard, right down to Mom & Pop store sketch book level. Choose your pick. Some parts look really effective like the scenes involving Rajini & Rajini, but that is because the actor knows his stuff. More to that later. Visual effects (VFX), though is part of Shankar’s bread and butter, is not exactly his forte. Indeed, I must admit, this is perhaps the most impressive in his resume, considering his past achievement as far as VFX or Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI) is concerned Shankar is always the kind of customer who would immediately want to chow down his cake before it is fully baked.
Another attraction to this film would certainly be Aishwarya Rai for those who don’t mind great looks and talents of a hamster on wheel. Grudges aside, I admit she did her part well, considering she has to look good, do lots of catwalk poses, dance and model for, borrowing my wife’s words, “gorgeous costumes”. Another thing that surprised me was her chemistry with Rajini. It was good, in fact. As a matter of fact (can you take more facts? Let me know) this is the best chemistry Rajini had with a pair since, maybe, Meena in Muthu.
ARR did a fine job as usual, though I suspect the songs here would not be as iconic as the ones in Muthu and Padaiyappa, but certainly more memorable than Sivaji the Boss. Don’t touch Baba, that’s my personal weakness. He is fine when dealing with small recurring sound, the only one who’s good at it after Ilayaraja and have certainly lived up to that reputation. If you call that a reputation.
Now, the man of the (3) hour, Rajinikanth.
It’s heartening to note that he actually put on lots of effort behind his roles here. His enthusiasm, if onscreen performance is an indicator, and they usually are, has been lesser and lesser since, maybe, after Baba. He looked tired in Chandramukhi, not helped by poor direction, and though seemed a bit chirpy in Sivaji the Boss, he was not giving his 60%, let alone 100%. Here, it may not be 100%, but certainly more than 60%. Oh man, how convincing he was whenever Vasee berates Chitti, losing his head the only way Rajini can being the only actor, next to Kamal, who can hit the rage-ometer as high as Sivaji Ganesan. When Chitti becomes evil, he totally leaves behind the subtle persona and you can see he is having a ball of a time, being such total badass that I think this is the best villain I had the pleasure enjoy watching since Amaithi Padai. Plus the funny scenes between Rajini and Rajini. Only Rajini can pull it off. In fact, the best chemistry in this film is actually between the scientist and the robot, so much so that the final scene actually would move you. Other actors except Kamal thinking of doing double or triple roles, think again. Rajini the actor is still around. Yes sir. He looks really good here, maybe a good 18 years younger than his actual age (60), and Chitti will be up there amongst the most memorable characters he played, next to Chakravarthi, Alex Pandiyan and slightly above Annamalai and Baasha.
This is the second grand visual spectacle I watched after Ravanan (as far as Tamizh films are concerned) that has more style than substance since as what you might expect from Shankar. But let’s face it, any film Rajini inhabits totally makes it his film. He still owns it even after all of us go six feet under. After this, without Rajini, Shankar will have lots of heavy thinking to do about his future as poor investment without Rajini is going to sink him. I am certain Rajini is leaving behind the superhero persona and will go back to his roots, as a fine character actor. In the meantime, I am revisiting Mullum Malarum tonight.
Note: Forgot to mention this, but Aishwarya Rai again proved that she's bullet proof.