Friday, October 01, 2010

Endhiran: Man, Machine, Lover

When an experience is genuinely thrilling, you can feel it in your bones right away. From the moment the very impressive title sequence rolled out with 'super star' flashed at the beginning till the last frame of the movie - there were many moments where I felt goose pimples. Its been a long time since we have had such a good mainstream commercial movie. And that is what this movie really is. Sort of a cross between 'Short Circuit' series and 'T-2'. Endhiran excels in almost everything it sets out to do. That is probably because Shankar manages to do almost everything he did not do in Sivaji. He has been gestating this story for a long time. And passion he has put into it is clearly evident. The biggest achievement in Endhiran (compared to Sivaji) is the strong presence of what we the audience all call 'an engaging story'. Sujatha's touch in all this is very visible not just in the first half but in certain debates that happen in the second half.

This movie also gets the entertainment mix right. Shankar does not dumb it down to a level you'd think is norm for Rajinikanth movies. I heard Rajinikanth uttering words like 'nueral schema' 'Fibonacci numbers' and 'prime numbers' and I did not have to squirm in my seat. It actually sounded very good and very engaging. The 'mass appeal' was very tempered and never overboard except during the stunt sequences. It did not have a thundering opening scene for Rajinikanth. This is probably the most casual introduction scene in any Rajinikanth movie post 90s. Not a great thing for "paal abhishekam for cut out" type "rajini fans". But certainly awesome for the rest of the people with greater than 2 brain cells. It eliminates all unnecessary distractions like 'punch lines' and focuses on moving the narration forward. The only 'style' it introduced was the 'dot gesture' and that was actually very impressive.

The dialogs, humor and small little stories around the Robot was very interesting. How a robot behaves in the real world has excellent scope for possibilities and Shankar teases us with several of them without going overboard or monotonous. A lot of sequences and possibilities have been packed into this 2 hours and 40 minute movie at a frenetic pace. You never get bored. Its like going on one ride after the other. The overall story is fascinating because I have never seen a triangular love story like this before. It also borders on romantic feelings towards a character's step-mother, which I thought was less explored. A specific plot situation colors the story as being a robo based Ramayana. Very innovative. Like any good story this one also revolves around love. And like any good science fiction story it uses non-humans to teach humans about themselves. Sujata is an expert on the latter subject and it comes out reasonably well in this movie. The movie touches on the debate of robots replacing human labor. But in order to keep the mix balanced, it doesn't go overboard with that debate either.

Now to the negatives. I was disappointed by the lack of tension in the stunt sequences. While the non-stunt plot sequences makes us care about Vaseegaran or Chitti. The stunt sequences involving the 'evil' robot had a poor sub-plot/narrative structure. It began to resemble a slide-show of stunts a robot can do. There was no cohesive flow between two subsequent stunt scenes. I am not sure if it was the editing or the flow that was disrupted. But after Aishwarya Rai was kidnapped from her wedding - the stunts that followed looked pretty disjointed. The computer graphics/CGI/animation (whatever it is called today) were excellent. And one has to applaud the level of sophistication shown in the special effects. But the mix on 'showcasing computer graphics' Vs 'creating action sequences that are tense' was a little off. Rajinikanth in the negative role starts off poorly (And I say that probably because I rate Rajini better as a villain than hero). But before you begin to wonder whether that role was going to fall flat, he goes to 'asathify' in the last 20-30 minutes. The visuals and the songs were beyond awesome. Especially the 'Kaadhal anukkal' song was shot very well.

In the end one has to applaud Shankar for taking thamizh movies to this level. We were waiting for this since 1995 when he put out teaser-posters of Kamalhasan standing with a Robotic dog. It finally happened at a time when such technology was more affordable. And call it destiny - it finally was done by an actor who you would not have guessed to be the one who played out Shankar's sci-fi dream. I have always felt this but not said it out in the past lest it be misconstrued as thamizh pride or whatever. But screw it. Let me just say it. Thamizh film industry is a modest, less rich, low volume industry that really cannot afford a movie of this budget. Without Rajinikanth they couldn't have even done this. But the fact is - a set of people here aimed higher. Instead of doing the same thing over and over again. Somebody thought of making a sci-fi movie that didn't look amateur. This point may get lost on people who ridicule Rajini based on his age or his skin color. And those who see this movie as a Rajinikanth style movie. It is the ambition that counts. The execution will finally fall into place.

39 comments:

Suchitra said...

Neat review. I was kind of not convinced about all the hype, but now I'm really tempted to go and watch the movie!What's the dot thing, btw?

Pipa said...

as S.Ve.Shekar says in one of his play eppo dhaan gazette-la vandha madhiri errukkuu..

I don't trust other reviewers on this one.

Anu Russell said...

I liked your last lines...brilliantly said.

Anonymous said...

Endhiran: Man, Machine, Plastic

Anonymous said...

Endhiran: Man, Machine, Plastic

Anonymous said...

nice review.
i was hugely relieved,it didn't turn out into another vigilante - message film from shankar.i was apprehensive initially from the trailer when there was a mention of robot being an one man army:-) Like you said,a good step forward.I would like this to break box-office records,just to infuriate the north indies group.
k

B o o. said...

I have nt watched the movie yet but I totally agree with the last paragraph. my husband was telling me that the movie could have been a better with a younger hero. so i asked him "would you have gone for first day first show and blown 50 bucks on any other hero?" He said no. :)

Raghu said...

Well written Hawk...I also thought the stunt sequences in the last 30 mts were stretched a bit too far but Shankar took that risk of exploring the sophistication bit too far that didn't work on screen.

Regardless, he definitely has elevated the bar of film-making, espec in this genre. I thought the Robot thalaivar just nailed all his scenes and liked his characterization better than the scientist.

Thalaivar started his career perfecting the art of being a nasty villain before becoming a global star but am convinced nobody could have pulled this off like the way thalaivar did and that includes the so-called "Ulaganayagan" himself :) !!

Raghu said...

FDFS inpluence pannadhukku ozhungaa ezhudhirukka....proved my clout yr worth :) !!

Alan Smithee said...

The anon who said "man, machine, plastic" - where can I line up to wash your feet?

Anonymous said...

Alan,

What's your contact number? ;-)

Sreekrishnan said...

i loved the movie. 2 times now. but i was disappointed for one thing. THey didnt have a "tribute" slide for Sujatha !

Anonymous said...

Like you said, apart from the fact that there was no unique Baasha-type Rajini touch to the movie, it really has taken Tamil cinema to a new level at a fraction of the budget the Hollywood dicks spend.

Anonymous said...

very good movie...a litle trimming in the second half would have probably made enthiran a great movie imo..if only had rahman scored music on par with gentleman,gajini or thiruda thiruda it would have become a masala masterpiece.....anyway a great experience due to a few good men -- rajini,shankar,maran

SS

Ganesh said...

very nice review. i echo others about the last few lines.

Wud just like to add that ... this also gives thalaivar an opening into acting more of such meaningful roles interspaced here and there with commercial entertainers. I hope he stops satisfying producers and directors ... he has done that enuf

Rahman however seems to be uncomfortable with Shankar post Boys ... unfortunate that a really good combination is not striking the right chord :(

blackaccord said...

nice review hawkeye... Sujatha's presence and absense could be seen clearly in the movie.. If Sivaji was a Rajini movie directed by Shankar, this was a Shankar movie with Rajini as the hero and hence no hero worship and punch dialogs.. This has to be one of Rajini's best performances since the 90s...Just when you think Shankar is maturing to a different level he goes back to B/C center masala with mosquito comedy and cop cars flying around like any other movie (a.l.a gentleman, kaadhalan,indian, sivaji etc), foreign terrorists etc... Rahman was annoyingly loud...I enjoyed the movie as you don't look at logic and flaws in a masala movie..

fieryblaster said...

i was waiting for this. i am too eager to watch it in theatres. :)

Dr.Dheep said...

Am a huge fan of sujatha. Wanted to see it for his work wit the movie. Paid 300 rs to watch the movie on first day in a crappy theatre after travellin 30km. Movie was good for tamil standards. Negatives tat stood out were lack of good comedy track. Santhanam was grossly underutilised. The cgi apart from climax was inadequate. Ish looking like rajini's grandmother. Some other heroine wouldv sizzled... Shouldn have gone wit so much expectations, i guess.

Sree said...

Dr. Dheep: I must salute you ... i have never seen a comment like this. couldnt stop myself from commenting !

Movie was good for tamil standards.
>> excuse me - where can i find Tamil Standards definition? Nothing personal .. but just curious !

Negatives tat stood out were lack of good comedy track.
>>You mean the Koundamani Senthil style track [No offense hawkeye ] when exactly did you find a "Comedy Track" apart from Gentleman in Shankar Movies.

Santhanam was grossly underutilised.
>>Enlighten us how to utilize him in that story ? i thought that was very apt. precisely the reason why Shankar didnt go for Vivek or Vadivel. No need for one ..

The cgi apart from climax was inadequate.
>> i agree a bit on the Flyover chase scene - but inadequate? i thought it was badly done - and over the top at times... It didnt feel inadequate ! not sure if i am missing an enlgish

Ish looking like rajini's grandmother.
>> This is the best punch dialogue i have ever heard !

Just like BlackAccord said
"this was a Shankar movie with Rajini as the hero and hence no hero worship and punch dialogs.. This has to be one of Rajini's best performances since the 90s.."

thepsychologic said...

Hail Robo! Hail Rajni!

Anonymous said...

as a rajini fan, i was so terribly disappointed. there was nothing in this movie - no story, no punch dialogue, no acting of any kind except bad, no entertainment, nothing! if there was a hero, it was technology.

i was so bored out of mind, it just wasn't funny - and so were most of the others in the theatre. danny was good. shylaja as the doctor was good. goodness, i can't think of anything else. ah yes, the machu pichu location - fabulous.

as for the visual conceit of having rajini's hair and beard grow to show passage of time. groan - too much shankar saar!

More than 2 brain cells said...

well.. if a rajni fan is dissapointed then this movie has to be a good movie.. usually rajni fans like idiotic stuff. from anon's comment above i am gathering that the movie is actually a sensible movie

Anonymous said...

More than 2 brain cells,

Am not a Rajini fan, yet I didn't find this movie impressive, but it isn't bad either :-)

-anon 2

Harini said...

The movie was ok but had many logical flaws..Ex. Like the way Rajini gets rid of Chitti the Robot..I would think a high profile scientist like him would not just break the robot and throw it into the trash and that too without clearing the code/logic he has placed inside him. This is the turning point of the movie so I find it unbelievable that a responsible scientist like him would be so careless to not dispose the robot in the proper way.

thepsychologic said...

@Harini
Well, he wasn't trying to disassemble the robo, he was breaking it out of anger. Hmmm.. now here I a doubt, how was he able to break it so easily?

PS: I found the logic in the movie much better than terminator 4 :)

sreekrishnan said...

@harini - added to the above comment. When you have robotic formation drilling the earth down- How come the leather Jackets or whatever it was stay put without any problem. You choose showing 100 Rajnikanth or 100 Robots.

and if he Robot was in love with Sana .. why cant Vasee make another robot that looked like Sana. Or, why cant the robot itself make a Robotic Sana?

Count of Robots in the formation scene dont sync. One time its a L O T. other time its less.

But - that said, even in your real life you dont think of the logical next - do you? somewhere you miss and that the problem.

So Shankar's movie - you have to miss the logical next to make a story.

For that matter - even terminator. Mercury Robot? what was that?

Anonymous said...

Sreekrishnan,

Mercury robot is just another possibility of an advanced robot from the future. I don't see anything illogical there.

Coming to Prof Rajini disposing Chiti. It isn't illogical but by right the prof should be sentenced for dumping it just like that. Due to his carelessness the robot eventually caused havoc (ethics of research).

Even Chiti might want a real human and not a machine with instilled emotions and feelings which may not have the exact personality of Sana.

You're in love with my girl, no problem I will make another copy of her and pass it to you. This doesn't sound right to me.

-xy

Harini said...

@thepsychologic - Yes I accept he was just breaking it in anger and not disassembling it (how he breaks it so very easily is something that eludes me as well). But he being such a high profile scientist won’t you think he would have made sure that the code/logic was wiped out fully before Santanam thrashes it? Or atleast tk an effort to find Chitti(if we assume Santanam has thrashed it without his knowledge) as he will defn be aware of the consequences if the robot gets into the villian's hands? Or as Anonymous pointed out he should hv atleast been punished at the end because it was ultimately his own fault that Chitti got out like this and caused such destruction.

@Sreekrishnan- You know, I thought of all the points that you hv mentioned before I even wrote out my first comment. Accepted that in movies we shudn't expect every move to be logically correct and that was why I was able to overlook all the other flaws, in order to enjoy the movie. But don’t you think the way Chitti was disposed was a tad too much? I mean it is the turning point of the movie and if that turns out to be based on such a bad logic/flimsy background its something I am really not able to accept.

sreekrishnan said...

practically - the way chitti was disposed is wrong and that probably is the reason why the second half takes place. Remmber Rajni himself being surprised and the police accusing him on one scene. I guess i didnt find it wrong. Every human is expected to act Logically or emotionally - and under stress, you tend to take an emotional step - which almost was the case in the movie.
I think that is worth giving a benefit of doubt.
I was just doubtful of how the robot assembled itself back. To me that was questionable. But for the sake of Drama i was willing to overlook.

So long story short - that disposal had more than a circumstantial reasoning. It was decent. atleast i feel so :)

Dr.Dheep said...

@sreekrishnan, Regardin my crib abt santhanam, the movie dint exactly rock in the comedy dept as is usual for shankar movies. but it has to be that way to give more scope for the robot's own style of humor?
Like @anon mentioned, making a copy à la frankenstein woudnt suffice. Chitti is in love with Sana and would not settle for anything lesser.
Though i wasnt exactly enamoured wit the first watching of the movie, feel like watching it a 2nd time now.
Was Sujatha sir's nick rangusky?
:) Anyway keep up the discussion....

Anonymous said...

Nice review. The movie was good , but disappointing in the second half. Rajini usually excels in villian roles, and here, though there is so much potential, he has not been utilized. Remember his thrilling performance in Netrikan , and that other movie where he kills kamal cause he loves sridevi. There is nowhere near that kind of tension between the 3 characters here.

MaySan said...

We loved the movie and I am ready to accept the lapses the doctor did...graphics reaching the masses and not making one feel bored is what Shankar has tried to achieve and he surely has done that. Rajini was amazing! 60 yr old doing such stuff is great!

Karthik - Filled with Feelings... said...

Movie is really good... and a really new experience in watching a Tamil movie... but few logics or flaws are not really digestable... If noticed carefully, when aish was disturbed by the guys playing music in high volume.. he says to Aish "u dont WORRY, i l take care.." and also when he goes to rescue people from fire accident.. he gets into a house n says "dont get scared(bayappadadhinga)".. when this robo does not know or have any human feelings, how he come he knew what is WORRYING or getting SCARED.... :-P

Karthik - Filled with Feelings... said...

how can he trash chitti just like that without removing the programs installed in him.... but overall the movie was a good entertainer... i liked the comedy in the first half very well... i hope fans of AR Rahman will surely like his work in BGM as well... nicely done.. as usual he used the songs as BGM... and the mixture of Shankar and AR on screen is always a pleasant feel and magic..... Overall.. a good movie in Tamil cinema... a good beginning actually.... :-)

Ganesh said...

@Karthik: Well , Chitti knows all languages, and i guess that means he knows the words "worry" and "scared" and their meaning. Now, Chitti by itself doesnt feel emotions but it can know that certain reactions mean certain feel. Remember, what the scientist does later is to give a back feed of simulators so that the robot can relate to the feel that it senses from another person and hence have a feel all by itself. So the underlying presumption is that it does know (per se) what "feel" is. But in itself it is detached (or uncapable) of feeling. An analogy wud be .... say appreciating paintings ... if one knows the style used by an artist, he will know that each stroke has been used with a particular feel / emotion to be conveyed. Now it is another thing that the onlooker shud feel the same way when viewing it. In fact one can perceive it totally differently. And if more justification is reqd ... .well we can consider a remote possibility that after the traffic police mishap .... Chitti is programmed to understand that people react to different things and that he shud do only good to people as much as possible ...which he can judge from their reactions. Again, he doesnt feel, he just factually knows that an expression corresponds to a feel!

Ganesh said...

@Chitti's disposal - Lets not forget that Vasi has been careless on more than one account. Remember when Sana discovers that Chitti can feel by itself and can emote .... Dr Vasi enrages the robot thinking it cant feel ... so he does get overboard and well had Sana not recognised .... he cud hav easily provoked the robot to do nonsense rite there .... So i wud say that the progress to the insane move of dismantling carelessly was not sudden ... one can always argue that im trying to bail out the director by giving a possible explaination .... but then its impossible to justify everything to everyone .... nevertheless this argument doesnt really give a leeway for people to miss logic deeply. Also, through this scene, it is slowly been shown that the Robot (if given a power to feel and think , which it of course can) .... can move beyond the imagination of Man. this is exactly what the second half is about - the robot dominating things and basically outplaying Vasi's thoughts.

And guys, lets admit that these things dont really exist .... androhumaniods may exist ... but not those which can feel and emote like humans ... so it ideally is upto the director to sketch a character for such an entity .... it neednt follow any of the normal patterns that human brain does.

Anonymous said...

// Not a great thing for "paal abhishekam for cut out" type "rajini fans". But certainly awesome for the rest of the people with greater than 2 brain cells. //

Satirical. You can never say those paal abhishekam fans are of lesser kinds. Take me for instance. I certainly have more than 2 gray cells.

Anonymous said...

I read your Manmathan Ambu review, thou I didnt like the movie myself, your review seemed so anti-kamalistic. So I got curious and searched whether for any entry about enthiran, as I expected you have boasted enthiran like anything. This clearly shows your stand. But I miss the copy/flick videos for enthiran, I wonder how you missed those n number of english movies. Good luck hardcore blindfolded Rajni fan

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