Forget the ridiculous budget, the outrageous visual effects and the mind-numbing hype that Sun Pictures has been steamrolling us with for months now. Let me tell you why you should watch Endhiran :
The film’s initial collections may have been fuelled by the masses of Superstar fans, but the movie is a thrill for those fans of an actor who added style to the Tamil movie villain’s wardrobe of flourishes. Arguably Yejaman onwards, the excitement of watching a Rajini movie was systematically slaughtered by movies that became ripe for parody with the stream of “get-rich-through-a-song” narratives, the superhuman abilities of the Superstar, the mother sentiment, the chauvinism… yawn. It had reached a point where, in recent years, the Superstar’s movies needed a formidable opponent, ironically, a woman (Ramya Krishnan in Padayappa and Jothika in Chandramukhi ) to render them engaging. Kuselan , Baba and to an extent Sivaji proved the formula was hardly infallible, so it is sweet relief that in Endhiran, we see the best face-off you could imagine — good guy Rajini vs bad guy Rajini.
The good guy may be the most brilliant, most awesome, most creative scientist ever, but when he is described as god, it is not with an aura of destiny. Good guy Rajini can’t save his ladylove from a drunk guy. He cannot outthink the villain. He is not free of jealousy, frustration and anger. He is human.
Bad guy Rajini, now that is vintage Rajinikanth. Forget the superhuman attributes (he is, after all, a robot), look at that purposeful walk, the rapid-fire dialogue delivery as he taunts the heroine, the style, the pizzazz, that spectacular laugh that sends a shiver down your spine.
Finally, a return to that guy, hateful yet sizzling in Moondru Mudichu as the charismatic scumbag who made Kamal Hassan look like a boring, ineffectual mama’s boy blind to the evil in his best friend. Or the sadistic husband in Avargal , who predated Shahrukh Khan’s obsessive tics. And honestly, after years, the scenes where Chitti the robot searches for the “black sheep” in their midst, or tells Sana (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) that together they could produce Robo sapiens, Rajini appears to be having the most fun he has had in years. For that alone, the movie is worth a watch.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Yes, she could have played a robot herself, but hey, she’s hardly as annoying as she was in Ravanan . Mainly because she has no real need to pretend to be able to act: She pouts, weeps, looks scared (she is almost molested at least three times, on one occasion by a gang of 100 guys) and dances. But more than all that, Aishwarya’s presence in the movie is a triumph of brand value over very deep-rooted prejudices. At 37, she is arguably the oldest actress to have been paired with the Superstar — anyone else might have been playing his mother by now. Shriya Saran who starred in Sivaji was 25 when the film was made, Nayantara only 21 when she starred in Chandramukhi . Not only is Aishwarya the “wrong” side of 30, she also made history by charging a whopping Rs 6 crore for the movie. As hard as it may be to actually “like” the Ice Queen, one must say, you go girl!
, his previous venture, also with the Superstar, was a tortured product — it was neither a Shankar movie nor a Rajini film.
not only sees Shankar fully in charge, but also for the first time since
, (both not his best), making an engaging film, without corruption as the central theme. From
, his deviations from said theme have not gone down very well. In Endhiran, he lets loose that fantastic imagination of his, so far limited to creating spectacular song sequences, in an indulgent but reasonably engaging visual effects sequence, and unlike director James Cameron, another tech-loving child with toys, Shankar’s efforts actually have a heart. Much as he used the “hero” Kamal Hassan in Indian to set off the real hero — the older Kamal Hassan — he uses the star Rajini here as second fiddle to the real hero of the movie, Rajini, the robot.
Kalanithi Maran vs Dr Bohra
It could be just me, but Danny Denzongpa’s character (who plays Dr Bohra) bears more than a passing resemblance to the film’s producer, Maran. If that is intentional, the mind, it quite boggles.