Too much of a good thing


By T S Sudhir

Like everyday, Chennai got up early on 01.10.10. But instead of heading to the Mylapore Kabaleeswara temple, it went to Kasi `temple’ much before 5 am. Where Lord Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, also known as Rajinikanth, has been consecrated as the presiding deity. This is the `speed 1 tera Hz memory 1 zetta byte’ modern-day avatar of the Super God, providing darshan to millions of those who love him, on 2000 screens worldwide.

Carpet bombing now has three new names. `Enthiran‘ in Tamil, `Robo‘ in Telugu and `Robot‘ in Hindi.

Like all of director Shankar’s films, the scale and canvas of `Enthiran‘ is huge. Or calling it HUGE would be more apt.

Rajini has worked overtime in `Enthiran‘. He is the not just the hero of the film. As Chitti, the robot, Rajini also plays the comic part. And as Chitti, the reincarnated robot, he is also the villain of the film. The bad guy has hundreds of sidekicks, who are also Rajini. For fans who can never get enough of their Superhero, he is all over the screen, literally. Paisa vasool for diehard fans of the superstar. Those familiar with the dynamics of the Tamil film industry would say Rajini has out-Kamaled his closest screen rival Kamal Haasan, whose ten roles in `Dasavatharam‘ were a landmark.

Ironically, for a film that is India’s most futuristic till date, Shankar has turned the clock back by 35 years on the superstar. Rajini who started his career as the bad guy in the mid 70s, plays the antagonist to good effect. And just like in the past, he makes the bad guy look more interesting and stylish than the hero, who seems quite a wimp.

Shankar loves gizmos and in `Enthiran‘, he has been pampered excessively by Sun Pictures’ Kalanithi Maran, for who sky (even without Spicejet !) is quite literally the limit. The quality of special effects used in the film, are the kind never seen before in Indian cinema and certainly raise the bar. The hard work put in by the crew, both actors and technicians, is visible in every frame. It is flawless, seamless and perfect.

“In this world, only two people are perfect,” says Chitti the villain to Sana (Aishwarya Rai). “Me and you”.

Both aren’t. Chitti, corrupted by crook-scientist Bohra (Danny Dengzonpa), has to be eliminated and Aishwarya doesn’t think twice before cheating in a medical exam, a la Munnabhai MBBS.

It is Shankar who is attempting to be perfect. A film, where everything, from sets, animation, action to costumes, make-up and cinematography, aims to be perfect. The focus, like in all of Shankar’s films, is on the opulence. The director, it would seem, wanted to prove that it can’t get bigger than this for a Rajini movie. The real biggie of course is the 160 crore rupees budget, that makes `Enthiran’ the costliest film made in India.

And therein lies the problem. Shankar has sacrificed substance for form. The comedy fails to tickle beyond a few feeble laughs (the Amman scene is hilarious though), despite having an actor like Rajini, whose sense of comic timing is legendary. Having decided to invest in awesome special effects, he goes overboard with it. Like the scene with the mosquitoes, literally sucks.

So much so that in the second half, you just want it to end now. The cacophony, mindless destruction of cars, ruthless killing, the Rajinis in the shape of a huge snake that cannot be vanquished, all in the name of a sci-fi movie fail to sustain interest. Excite it does initially, but then it becomes like a loud video game that refuses to pause.

If the Tamil audience at Prasads multiplex in Hyderabad, where I watched the film, greeted every move and gesture of Rajini with claps and whistling in the first half, the second half evoked a robotic reaction. In the hugely mounted climax, we would have liked to see Rajini the actor emote. Instead, he is just another cog in the techno wheel, consumed by Shankar’s desire to be India’s Steven Spielberg.

Chitti in the end, admits he is Aishwarya’s toyfriend, not boyfriend. The problem with `Enthiran‘ is that it too is like a toy that has been overwound.

But despite all its flaws, Enthiran is a very watchable film. Even if just for those five seconds of the typical Rajini walk in slow motion in the `Kaadhal Anukkal‘ number. It is amazing how a 60-year-old gets more of an ovation than the former Miss World.

And the hard work Rajini has put into the film shows. He looks very good and carries the film entirely on his shoulders. I only wish his look in the lavishly shot `Kilimanjaro‘ song didn’t remind one of how he looked in `Baba‘. Since `Baba’ was a black sheep in Rajini’s magnificent CV.

Do watch it for the special effects and for the scale of Shankar’s vision. And of course Thalaivar. And Aishwarya looks gorgeous. All the others characters in the film are irrelevant, there only to fill up the empty space.

But may I also suggest you carry cotton for the ears. You are quite likely to need it in the second half.

P.S. Thalaivar, now that `Enthiran‘ is behind you, you owe films like `Thalapathi‘ and `Badsha‘ to your fans. Rajini, the actor, Vazhga !

You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com

 

(Please do tell us what you thought of this blog by posting your comment)

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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16 Responses to Too much of a good thing

  1. mediamentor says:

    Dear Sudhir,

    After reading this highly readable graphic Enthiran, one need not watch Enthiran. Yu have screened the Thalaivar movie in action packed words that whir the scenes in front of eyes, minus the ear-shattering sounds that u said more likely would numb senses. But yes, for special effects yu so highly recommend, I am beginning to make some phone calls to manage tickets. Wud get back once am successful. Thank you once again for painting the picture vividly in words. Am sure, some books are due from your keyboard. Wud wait for them. Cheers. Lakshmana

    • thanks lakshman. the writing bit gives me a break from the 90 second stories of television !

      • mediamentor says:

        hey chief, was successful. and just back from enthiran. fight scenes extended but surely in a different league in terms of special efforts, graphics. your writing shows u enjoy it as well, unlike us for whom it has become somewhat of an occupational hazard. am only wondering about your energy levels — after the hours u put in for the 90 seconds of TV, writing such lovely stuff. i would give both my hands to get a fraction of that ability. you have done books already? when is the first one out? or compendium of all your blogs, stringing them together in some thematic fashion????? this fan awaits. lakshmana

      • Hope that happens some day … thanks 🙂

    • Serenity Stupidity says:

      Hi Mentor,

      Do catch up with the word versions of “Raavan”, “Peepli Live”, and “A Rehman show”, too. Could not watch any of those…or so i thought until I read the sudhir posts.

  2. sai kishore says:

    @Sudhir

    Sir, like the previous mediamentor’s comment,even i’ve seen a virtual Enthiraan on ur blog. Thanks!!
    yeah,ofcourse,when they are aiming at such a high budget film,there are some minor ones,which bother a bit.But,with Rajini,it’s not common.He is known for his perfect,flaw-less & clean pictures.
    And,rajini-aishwariya is a good pair.
    I’m also planning to watch the movie after reading ur view about the film. Is the DTS, that high, that we should carry cotton???

  3. sai kishore says:

    @Sudhir

    Sir,i just want one small compliment.

    The line,”SPEED 1TERA HZ,MEMORY 1 ZETTA BYTE,MODERN DAY AVATAR OF THE SUPER GOD”
    is really excellent. Hats off to ur description.

    • thanks kishore … the speed, memory line is part of the movie, so credit should go to the dialogue writer ! I just used to convey the modern face of 60-yr-old Rajini ! Re: cotton, i saw atleast three kids, including my daughter closing their ears in the noisy climax, so i guess atleast the young ears found the decibel levels a bit too high … regards

  4. murali shankaran says:

    hi sudhir

    thats a nice way to describe a movie

    one need not wait for watching the first day first show . you hve said it all
    yes would want to see it for thalaivar AND THE visuals .
    one small info to eb added . at the last moment they have added an additional 1000 screens .
    keep blogging
    await your next article on the ram temple at ayodhya , and its political implication .

    would want you to read the mail i recd and shared on my fb about the qualifications needed for a person to apply for a lok sabha seat

  5. Serenity Stupidity says:

    Dear Tss,

    I have discovered, that there is an intensely human initiative on your part, when you write such posts( about movies ).

    You may go to the movies along with you family and friends, but come back and ensure, that each of your readers ie other friends, were also “along with you”. So, you “bring to life”, in our minds, the movie.

  6. sheela says:

    wowww….i neednt go to the theatre now. Reading your review made me feel i finished watching it. anyways..planning to watch the tamil version soon

  7. Sonali says:

    excellent review!
    I am not a big fan of rajini and have not witnessed the fenzy for this actor (north india, yu hardly get to see that) but still I do agree that he is a legendary actor. However, thank you for this review where I could almost visualize things a,d yes would definitely try to watch this movie.

  8. P C Bala says:

    I bow to your review – as good as the movie itself.
    Could see the review only now, better late then never….keep up the good work, relishing.

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