Gautaman Bhaskaran’s Review: Endhiran
Cast: Rajnikanth, Aishwarya Rai and Danny Denzongpa
Director: S. Shankar
S. Shankar’s Endhiran (The Robot) opened today in 2000 screens worldwide, 500 in Tamil Nadu alone. Reportedly made at Rs 120 crores, the costliest ever in Tamil cinema, the Rajnikanth starrer rolled early in the day with thousands of his fans thronging theatres to catch a glimpse of their hero, who rose from the ranks in Maharashtra to become a phenomenon in Tamil Nadu.
Surprisingly, Rajnikanth, wiser after crippling losses his earlier films like Baba and Sivaji made, appears in Endhiran without much of his trademark gimmickry, something that made him much less of an actor than what he probably was capable of. As scientist Vaseegaran - engaged in a decade-long struggle to create an android robot that will not only look exactly like him, but also feel the most basic human emotions, such as love, anger and revenge - Rajnikanth impresses to a degree.
However, when the robot, named Chitti, emerges from the lab, the creature appears more like an excuse for Rajnikanth to unleash on the viewers some of the tricks he is known for. So what we see towards the second half of the film, touted as a science fiction work, is the real Rajnikanth, as Chitti, his old mannerisms more or less intact. The rather subdued, restrained Rajnikanth, a serious scientist who has no time to shave his beard or meet his girlfriend Sana (Aishwarya Rai) or take her calls, is pushed to the background.
Perhaps not quite content with letting Endhiran remain an ordinary story that you and me could easily identify with, co-writer and helmer Shankar introduces an evil scientist, Bohra (Danny Denzongpa), who plots to turn Chitti from an obedient robot to a brute of a monster that assumes the power to clone hundreds of Chittis. Not just this, it kidnaps a beautiful woman and tries forcing her into marrying him!
As was to be expected, Shankar’s work slips into a loud, overdramatic and exaggerated mess, quite akin to what Chitti and his huge army of lookalike goons create in Chennai, causing unimaginable destruction and an awful lot of deaths. Ideas and even visuals seem to have been lifted from some of Hollywood’s sci-fi pictures.
Finally, not quite happy with the message that the movie was trying to drive, the script entrusts Rajnikanth with a courtroom appearance, where he delivers a sermon on how science can be used and misused. A rather naïve thing to do in today’s internet age.
Admittedly, Endhiran’s plus point lies in Rajnikanth’s sober performance, at least as Vaseegaran, but Rai disappoints yet again – after Raavan/Raavanan. She is obsessed with looking ravishing even in the most nerve-wracking situations. Can she never let go her lip-gloss and gorgeous costumes? Can she never make an effort to act, instead of just looking pretty?
Obviously, the producers needed a name like Rai in addition to Rajnikanth’s, perhaps as an additional insurance for their whopping investment.