Thursday, October 07, 2010

Endhiran, the Robot - A movie review

Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'The Brook' ends with the words 'For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever.' This was the first thing I thought of when the end credits rolled on Shankar's latest magnum opus – Endhiran, The Robot. The reason these words seemed extremely apt was because it applied both to the robot on screen and the human – Rajnikanth – off screen. With Endhiran, Rajni has proved as clear as daylight, that he is still a Herculean force to reckon with. Rajni's image as an actor has grown so immense now, considering the colossal height it was at earlier anyway, that he has gone beyond reviews and critique. Nevertheless, despite my dwarfed mortality in the presence of Rajni's divinity, I shall still attempt this one.

With Endhiran, Rajni the actor makes a conscious comeback. There are no lines or superhuman antics here constructed specifically to get wolf calls from the audience. No. The scientist in Dr. Vaseegaran is just a regular guy who is a major robotics geek and despite having a girlfriend who looks like Aishwarya Rai (this time literally of course), the good doctor chooses to spend more time on his first major creation – Chitti, the humanoid and the real reason the audience will go wild in the cinemas.

Chitti pretty much has everything that is human. In a tongue in cheek attempt at capturing the essence of this 'everything', a hilarious exception is mentioned – feelings. Yes, Chitti is devoid of any feelings since he is a machine. Despite the overwhelming wealth of knowledge Chitti has been fed with, if there is one thing he doesn't comprehend then it is those fundamental units that form the rudimentary human pattern that go beyond a DNA model or a genetic theory. Feelings of shame, hurt, anger, lust, love, regret, jealousy, greed – a wide spectrum of colorful modes that Chitti hasn't been introduced to yet. At one point in the movie, having enraged the doctor after making a huge erroneous judgment call, Chitti accuses his creator of being flawed. This, he reasons, is why the logic in his machinery is flawed too. In another brilliant scene when asked if God exists, Chitti shoots back – 'Who is God?'. On being told it is someone who created us, he responds point blank – 'This is Dr. Vaseegaran. He created me. So he is my God.' It is in moments like this that Shankar's brilliance as an individual who recognizes the importance of a human element in a divine spectrum becomes refreshingly apparent.

With things looking this simple – something complicated happens. Chitti falls in love. With whom? Why the good doctor's girl of course! What bigger challenge than to pit Rajni against Rajni, right? A perfect and, quite possibly, penultimate gauntlet that is thrown down masterfully by Shankar in the pit. Wronged, Chitti makes a return in a whole new avatar as Endhiran – the evil robot – in the second half for sweet redemption. And what a return that is! If ever there was a Rajni movie with the most beautifully choreographed special effects in its final hour, it is hands down Endhiran. The ruthless confidence that Chitti/Endhiran brings to the screen lights up the climactic portions. It is here that Rajni the actor gets to bloom in full. The special effects team, as already heralded by millions as being the best, definitely deserves accolades for having converted a beautiful vision into an equally well choreographed outcome. In all my years of watching Indian cinema, I have never seen such amazing display of sequences built solely on mathematical and scientific models. The way Endhiran organizes his army of clones to fight off Vaseegaran's onslaught is certainly a cinematic milestone.

The visuals complement the story as does the music. Rahman gives us a pleasant set of tunes but none that will stay in your memory for long since the movie was, is and will be about Rajni's performance in the dual role. Everything and everyone else is critical but short lived gravy. This includes the leading lady who, as always, thinks she is acting if she rolls her eyes or flicks her brows here and there. For once I'd like Aishwarya to get rid of all the cosmetics and shallow attitude and play a role where she, well, performs! But I guess that's asking for too much. If she wants to play Barbie all the time that's her call. Fortunately, unlike 'Ravan', we don't have anyone else from her family to put up with in this one. So the harm done is minimal. Plus, Rajni's radiance is so bright here that no amount of glossy desktop wallpaper Photoshop effect can make one remember Aishwarya as the end credits roll.

Final word – go watch Endhiran. If there ever was an Indian movie that will be looked at as the perfect way to juxtapose today's ever changing technology against the carnal and still rather medieval human factor, Endhiran is that film. A movie that provokes you to answer the question – 'Technology is/was definitely ready for us all the time. But are we really ready for it?'

And as for Rajni? Well, he is just getting started. Endhiran will prove to be the movie where Rajni, much like his character Vaseegaran the scientist, ends up recreating himself in a whole new version (Version 2.0!). There is a lot more yet to come from this 60 year old teenager and I for one eagerly await it all. For actors may come and actors may go, But Rajni shall go on for ever.


21 reflections:

Ravishankar Haranath said...

Nice post :-)

Thalaiva vaalga!!! said...

Awesome riview buddy! Thalaivaa roxxxx!

Srikanth said...

Shakri's pen has a magical brilliance …. Just loved this post!

ShaK said...

@Ravishankar

Thanks mate. :) Glad you enjoyed it!

Cheers,

SK

ShaK said...

@Srikanth

You flatter me, mate. :) Thanks for the kind words. Do check out the flick. I am sure you'll enjoy it!

Cheers,

SK

ShaK said...

@Anon

Thailavar certainly rocks, friend. Thanks for your words.

Cheers,

SK

Chetan said...

Excellent review sir, Movie rocks, But we need to remember Writer Sujatha, His book inspired Shankar to pen this story and offcourse Writer Sijatha is working with shankar from Indian, He also penned screenplay for Endiran.

He died last year :( he was one of the best modern tamil writers

Chetan

ShaK said...

@Chetan

Ah!Now see I did not know that. I did notice the name Sujatha in the writing credits but did not realize it was a famous Tamil writer. Thank you for that informative response, friend. It is indeed tragic that the writer could not see the fruit of his labor spark up the silver screen.

Cheers,

SK

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the review. Nicely written. But felt the review was biased against Aishwarya. I personally dnt thnk anyone othr than her would be apt for tht. Considrng Shankar wantd a heroine who is welll recognised both in south and hindi circuits

Cheers

Krishna

ShaK said...

@Krishna

Good to see you here, mate. I'd disagree with you that the mere presence of a face that is recognized globally automatically translates into the irrelevance of his/her acting prowess. Despite the obvious writing on the wall that this is Rajni's vehicle through and through, Aishwarya could have still tried to give it a little more conviction regardless of how long or how vain her role might have been written as. If one is playing a critical part (sort of a reprisal of her "Sita" role from "Ravan" all over again except this time both Ram and Ravan are Rajni himself!)in the twist of the tale, one would probably think of doing more than play Barbie. I have no personal grudges against Rai except that she has not once done justice to a role she has been handed purely because, what you mentioned, a global face value. But thats a discussion for another time. :)

Thanks again! Glad you liked the review.

Cheers,

SK

I Write for Fun said...

Thanks for the review.. all the more reason to watch the movie!! Only thing thats stops me is her sucked up face.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic review sir! I wish Thalaivar see your review :) I agree with you that Rai was out of place in the movie. I'm sure they would have gone for some better actresses like Vidya Balan or someone from off beat cinema, who could have justified the role. Sana's character was important for the story to go further. This fake Rai simply goofed up.

Seema Joseph

ShaK said...

@I Write for Fun

LOL! Well, I don't really have an issue with her face as long as she can show some shades of earnest effort in it. That,is what I am yet to find. Thanks for the words.

Cheers,

SK

ShaK said...

@Seema Joseph

Good call! I hadn't thought of Vidya as a possibility. She too is getting typecast pretty badly in Hindi movies. Hope she recovers before its too late. But yes, anyone with that sort of relatable conviction would've been great. And yes - I certainly do hope the big man gets to read this. :)

Cheers,

SK

Anonymous said...

Everything is nicely pointed out but I guess you weren't in theater during songs. Aish did amazing steps which I wish you could have watched.

Like some one said, your review is little biased.

The first person whom we should all appreciate is the producer. There are many directors who can do better projects but it is not easy to get a person with guts to spend such a huge amount that too after couple production houses dropped it in the middle.

ShaK said...

@Anonymous

Thank you, friend, for the words. Firstly - no I did not leave the cinema when the songs came. I did actually watch the entire thing along with the dance sequences. Perhaps our priorities are different and hence you chose to highlight Ash's dance moves whereas I found them quite regular. What I did notice was the excellent choreography which is always a highlight in Shankar's movies but nothing specific to Ash, regrettably.

Secondly - yes. I agree with you that the production team definitely needs accolades too. Most times we tend to applaud the names that are celebrated but not the backstage hands that made the whole show take place. I join you in congratulating the entire production team of 'Endhiran' for the spectacular product they have delivered.

Thanks for dropping by.

Cheers,

SK

Anonymous said...

Did you even watch Choker Bali!Such a memorable subdued performance from her, I am sure none could have done a better job at it.
Judging from the tone, this review is as prejudiced as it can get.Rajini is a fine actor, no denying but greatness should also be measured in terms of realism. It may not be easy to convince in the role of a toy-boy role, but certainly much easier than convincing with "earthly" roles which someone like Kamal Hassan effortlessly does.In my view benchmark for greatness is Kamal not Rajini

Anonymous said...

Loved the movie and I thought both Rajni and Aishwarya performed well. They played the roles as Shankar wanted them to be portrayed.

It takes away from a review when the reviewer makes a comment like this:

"For once I'd like Aishwarya to get rid of all the cosmetics and shallow attitude and play a role where she, well, performs! But I guess that's asking for too much. If she wants to play Barbie all the time that's her call."

I'm non-Indian and I have to take issue with this comment because I have seen movies where Aishwarya performed well and some roles with little or no makeup - Iruvar, Kandukondain, Khakee, Provoked, Chokher Bali, Raincoat, Jodha Akbar, Sarkar Raj, Guru and even Raavanan. I know it is fashionable to diss Aishwarya but at least be fair about it. BTW I studied dance and I can tell you she is a fantastic dancer - musicality and grace.

While I like Vidya she would not have been appropriate for this role in Robot.

ShaK said...

@Anonymous 1

1.This review is purely,and clearly, my opinion on both the movie and the performances in it.You are welcome to disagree with me on Ash's performance but that still does not change my views about her contribution to the film as an actor. I guess we have different standards to gauge her ability to perform.

2.I do not mention anywhere that Rajni is a benchmark for acting.So you might want to revisit the review to gain some perspective on that before roping in names I did not mention.

Thank you for stopping by,mate.

Cheers,

SK

ShaK said...

@Anonymous 2

Same as point #1 in comment above. Good to see a non-Indian following Indian movies to such depth.Its certainly a welcome move.

Thanks for stopping by, mate.

Cheers,

SK

arvind1187 said...

Ah! 60 year old teenager.. .not a surprise. I cannot argue that one :) !!
The movie sure gives u 3 hours of entertainment and the movie has definitely set a benchmark when it comes to tech savy movies , in india of course.

wonderful review !!

 
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