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.