'Enthiran' (Tamil, Sci-fi, 2010)
Cast: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa, Santhanam, Karunas, Hanifa, Kalabhavan Mani, Delhi Kumar
Touted as the costliest venture to hit the Indian screen, 'Enthiran' brings back the Sivaji team of Shankar-Rajinikanth-Rahman. For additional hype there is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in her first film with the superstar.
Shankar also has a talented team of technicians from India and abroad to bring his most challenging and ambitious project onto screen. This is also the first production venture of Sun Pictures.
For the first time, Shankar moves away from his pet theme of corruption, and shifts to a different genre. He enters the realm of scientific fiction and weaves an unusual tale of triangular love revolving around a man, a woman and a machine. The plot is based on a popular sci-fi premise - that a humanoid robot designed by man to do his bidding, when able to think and reason for himself, and experience human emotions and desires, steps beyond its expected pattern of behaviour, even challenging its own maker.
Scientist Vaseegaran after toiling for many years, creates Chitti, a humanoid robot in his own image. Chitti has the strength of a hundred men, knows all languages and dance forms, and can even prepare a dozen dishes in a jiffy. Vaseegaran after getting the necessary approval, intends to make more of such robots that could be used by the army in warfare, thus reducing human casualties. But Vaseegaran’s mentor Professor Bohra (a suave Danny fitting in suitably), jealous of his student’s success refuses to give the clearance, dismissing his invention as a ‘stupid....machine’.
Problems begin for Vaseegaran when to better his invention, he infuses Chitti with ‘feelings’ hormones. Chitti develops love for Sana, Vaseegaran’s girl friend, and like Frankenstein turns against his creator. With Rajini essaying a dual role, it is a double bonanza for his fans. He fits in perfectly as the sober scientist preoccupied with his research, sparing little time for girl friend Sana. But the show stealer in the earlier part is his Chitti, amusing and endearing. And when Chitti in the latter half goes on a vengeful destructive spree, its vintage Rajini-flambouyant and delightfully over the top.
Watching the superstar in his act, its difficult to envisage any other actor in his shoes. Aishwarya looks gorgeous, bubbly and vivacious as never before. She appears almost throughout, and is perfectly matched with the superstar. Shankar has meticulously crafted his script— his characters are finely tuned, sustains the pace for most part.
The earlier scenes where Vaseegaran lets out Chitti into the world to test his worthiness has many funny moments. The climax is a breathtaking spectacle, and nothing like what you’ve seen on Indian screen. The songs (Rahman definitely not at his best) are exquisitely picturised. Sabu’s opulent sets (he appears in a cameo too), and Ratnavelu’s stunning visuals provide excellent support. The visual effects and graphics are outstanding.
Designed by Hollywood experts, they are the backbone of the film. Though there were sci-fi films earlier ('Krish', 'Koi Mil Gaya'), they never fully exploited the genre. So Shankar can take credit for being the path breaker and the creator of India’s first state of the art sci-fi film.
'Enthiran' is a perfect blend of Indian sensibility and superior Hollywood technical wizardry. The film does have its flaws. The second half could have been trimmed to a crisper length. A couple of songs and the scenes which lead to them seem forced. Also, with Chitti providing enough humour, the stale comic antics of the Santhanam-Karunas duo could have been dispensed with. The stunt scenes too could have been trimmed a little to sustain the racy momentum.
“I’ve toiled for ten years to make it happen” says Vaseegaran about his creation. But the scientist had nothing to fear. For apart from playing truant for a while, Chitti more than met his expectations. The director’s take would be similar. A ten year wait for his most ambitious dream project to bear fruit. An engaging script, brilliant special effects, and a debonair hero who still carries his charisma effortlessly. And for the viewer, a larger than life experience.