It’d be stupid on my part to talk about the pre-release hype surrounding “Endhiran”. After all, this is the first Indian movie to have spent a whopping Rs. 15 Crores on publicity alone!
Coming to the movie itself, the director’s got to be appreciated for three things: one, for making a “non-rajinistic”` Rajini movie devoid of punch dialogues, an opening song and an ostentatious introduction scene. Two, for conceiving the characters in a realistic manner: Dr.Vaseegharan, the robot’s creator using his brain instead of brawn to save his lady love from a prurient labourer (Kalabhavan Mani). Three, the audacity, ambition and perspicacity to materialise a project of such a humongous scale in a relatively small industry like Kollywood.
After vacillating from one super-star to another, one industry to another, Shankar decided to rest the unimaginably heavy burden of carrying his magnum opus forward on the old but vivacious shoulders of Indian film industry’s miracle man who has a glorious history of having sent most of his producers laughing all the way to the bank. But, Rajini the actor had sunken into oblivion after the emergence of Rajini the star in the 1980s.
The movie presents a tremendous opportunity for the actor in Rajini to stage a comeback. And to just say that the superstar has grabbed it with both hands would be a shameless understatement. He has pounced on this mouth-watering prospect like a lion (bears incidental resemblance to the first line of a song in the movie, Arima Arima). Rajini’s adaptability is the most striking feature of this special innings of his. The glib and graceful transition between the multiple roles makes this one Rajini’s best performance till date: a vivid portrayal of intricate sensations as the scientist, the phlegmatic dialogue delivery and corresponding expressions of Chitti, the fiery-eyed love-struck monster’s egregious transgressions and disparaging contraventions, his villainous ways, unconventional(in every sense) style and the unflinching attack he launches in pursuit of saving his love interest leave us puffing, panting and gasping for breath. The distinguishing evil laughter as robot 2.0, the helpless heave as the stranded scientist, the gape arising out of astonishment and pleasure after getting kissed by Ash, speaks volumes about the neglected actor in Rajini. WHAT A MAN!
Aishwarya Rai plays Dr.Vaseegharan’s, and later Chitti’s love interest in the movie. Her acting is as inconsistent as her make up in this movie. She looks ravishing in certain scenes, so much so that even a robot falls in love with her! Shankar, who has attached so much of importance to all the finest details in the movie, has unpardonably neglected Aishwarya’s over-done make up in the song sequences.
The song sequences, one must say are a disappointment, considering Shankar’s proven expertise in this arena. But he can be excused on the grounds of lack of proper support from his ever-reliable ally, A.R.Rahman, who has composed a few forgettable numbers in this movie. Having said that, Chitti’s cute conducts, the dizzy heights and dazzling scenery in Machu Pichu and the glossy sight of Rajini walking with two chained robot-like lions in the songs Boom-Boom, Kilimanjaro and Arima Arima remind us of the Shankar we know when it comes to canning song sequences. Aishwarya dominates the song sequences with her nimble footwork. The awesome costume design works to her credit and she makes jaws drop, thanks to her hour-glass figure! And Thalaivar meanwhile, impresses with his classy and agile movements in the Chitti dance showcase. The songs have been festooned with witty lyrics too.
Rahman, on the other hand has come up with quite a decent background score with shades of brilliance, the delivery scene and the substantial orchestration in the sentimental and slightly melodramatic climax being noteworthy examples of poetic background scores.
Cinematography is another highlight in this landmark movie. The filming of the scintillating oasis in the Kadhal Anukkal, the maddening camera angles in Kilimanjaro, the classy stunt sequences and the consistently calm and pleasing-on-the-eye camera work deserves special mention.
The one feature that sets Endhiran apart from all the other movies to have been made till now, the one feature that’s bound to set the cash registers ringing, the feature that takes the movie and in the process, Tamil cinema, to the next level is the awe inspiring special effects. The last half an hour showcasing the various formations of the robots are bound to keep us on the edge of the seat. The graphics look flawless and the quanta of work put in by the technicians deserve accolades. The technicians involved better start warming up as a lot of awards are headed their way for sure.
Though a lot of factors have contributed to the over-all appeal of the movie, only one man manages to steal the thunder occasionally from the super star. It’s the man himself, Shankar. What an idea sirji! His ambition, creativity and path-breaking imagination offer a lesson to budding film-makers of today and are sure to inspire them to dream big, as the result is there for everyone to see. It’s not a flawless piece of work by any stretch of imagination but the innovative thought process and the indefatigable and intrepid work force deserve infinite credit. The screenplay sags towards the beginning of the second half though the brisk pace resumes towards the end and the movie zooms towards a racy climax. The movie would have been a lot better, had the length been curtailed and the editor’s to be blamed for the slackening in pace.
The movie features a few immature and unwanted scenes like the scene involving the interaction between Chitti and a mosquito. On the hindsight, the movie also features a few stunning scenes. The most stunning scene in the movie according to me is the scene in which robot Rajini identifies the “black sheep”. The dialogue build up to the movie and the follow up is fantastic! The songs also prove to be an unwanted aberration and the sub-standard quality of the songs and the visuals make the experience even worse and test our patience. Dialogues act as pillars of strength in this movie and Sujatha’s witticisms are sure to be sorely missed by Shankar in his future endeavours. The laconic replies of the robot and the wispy philosophical undercurrents that run through the dialogues are a treat. The movie refuels the never subsiding debate again: “Can man play god?” A lot of thinking has gone into the making of the movie in terms of consideration of logical feasibility of scenes. On the outset, one may dismiss most scenes as no-brainers but one needs to understand that these scenes have been deliberately fabricated in such a manner. The director has safely, and intelligently at that, expected us to dive into his pool of imagination. To sum it up, it’s time to do away with your thinking caps and take a refreshing splash into the ace director’s sea of thought. The movie is a visual projection of Shankar’s dreams and Kalanithi Maran has been magnanimous enough to finance this venture. As a token of appreciation of his daredevilry, this flick’s heading in only one direction- a blockbuster!