Review: Endhiran- The Robot

Text by Ram Anand

Movie: Endhiran- The Robot (Tamil)

Director: Shankar

Produced by: Sun Pictures

Cast: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Danny Dengzongpa, Santhanam, and Karunas

Endhiran- The Robot is the mother of all Indian movies. The summer has been filled with incredible amount of hype leading up to the film’s release on October 1.

A quick check in local theatres would tell you the tale- that the movie’s tickets are virtually sold out for almost the entire first week. Special counters are open in multiplexes just to sell out Endhiran tickets.

Even against the regular norm; GSC and TGV cinemas did not open their ticket reservations until the film got up and running on the day of release.

There are reasons behind all the hype. At around US$45 million, Endhiran is the most expensive movie ever produced in India, and has been in making for two years.

It is probably the first high-profile science-fiction attempt in the industry- and it features India’s highest paid actor Rajinikanth in the lead role. Global beauty Aishwarya Rai Bachchan pairs him in a star-studded cast, while music was composed by AR Rahman, the Indian composer who claimed the Academy Award for his composition in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-swooping Slumdog Millionaire last year. The film was written and directed by Shankar- a director that is known for making grand movies with lavish production qualities while retaining a social theme in its underscore.

With immense amount of hype, the big question is, does the film deliver?

The film is a story about Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajini), who is scientist specializing in robotics. He manages to complete his ten-year research project to produce a robot he names as Chitti (also portrayed by Rajini). Chitti integrates very well in Vasi’s life, even impressing his girlfriend Sana (Aishwarya).

However, Vasi’s mentor Professor Bhora (Danny Dengzongpa) has a grudge against Vasi for surpassing him and is hell bent on not approving the robot when it is presented to the Artificial Intelligence center. Bhora rejects Chitti on the grounds that the robot merely follows instructions and is incapable of thinking for itself or understand human emotions. This prompts Vasi to do reverse mapping on Chitti and install it with hormones to trigger feelings.

Though initially all seems well, all hell break loose the moment Chitti falls in love with Sana, and a conflict is triggered between the creator and the creation.

Running at about 3 hours long, the film has an epic length. The director is extremely imaginative in terms of producing scenes which showed the robot’s capacities. The robot is shown talking to mosquitoes, capable to ensemble clones of itself and transform into a giant monster robot, a python, and can skate-board across railway tracks. The robot has no death, and comes back alive by recharging itself with any jolt of electricity.

But amidst all these, the director has got his foundations right-he has done his research and intelligently uses robotic and scientific terms that makes perfect sense in tune with the character and the subject he is handling, and even properly uses terms such as artificial intelligence and also fictitiously creates a logical system of robotic evaluation (A.I.R.D)

Rajinikanth, though well-known for his ‘punch dialogues’ and his abundance of heroic style in his movies, ditches all the normal associations that can be found in his films to purely act out his role in the film. At an age reaching 60, he dances, romances, acts like a robot, and has a villainous laugh- all oozing with energy. He played two distinct characters with many facets, and delivers all of them with a packed punch, probably a punch better than any of his punch dialogues. He carried the film on his own shoulders, literally.

Ainshwarya Rai Bachchan did not have much to do apart from playing a tag-along girl in many scenes, but her beauty does show in the song sequences to say the least. Other actors do a decent job at their roles.

Music by AR Rahman resembles the work of an Oscar-winner. He delivers songs with a different touch in each of them (there are six songs in the film), and his background score is fantastic.

However, the film could and should have used more editing and trimming. The editing jolts at certain places, and the songs (four of them in separate sequences) halt the story’s momentum needlessly at times. However, it must be noted that the production quality shows even in the songs, with each song shot exquisitely at unique locations and settings.

The CGI work, though flawed at parts, is generally good, and ground-breaking for a Tamil film.

With some uneccesary fight scenes in the film coupled with songs and the fact that the story hardly moves an inch till the film moves closer to the interval section- Endhiran could do way with at least a good 30 minutes to make the film more compact. The second half appears draggy at times.

Endhiran is not a masterpiece of a film, but it is still ground breaking in terms of the effort that it took to produce such a film in Indian cinema and clearly states the ambition that the Indian film industry has.

Though far from perfect, watch Endhiran for the experience (the film is not ripped off any Hollywood film, and the story is quite original), with the commendable CGI works (in most parts), and for the performance of Rajinikanth. It probably marks a new era in the Tamil film history.

Verdict: 7/10