Monday, October 11, 2010

Endhiran - WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG in most of the Rajni’s films. The same goes for Shankar’s films too. Both of them are adept in dishing out ‘formula’ films. If a dash of comedy and style was the usual seasoning in the former’s flavour, ‘hero versus corruption in the society’ is the latter’s. When these two master chefs decided to conjure up something different three years ago and named it after the ultimate thespian of tamil cinema, it turned out to be the most definitive talking point between any two individuals at that time. ‘Simultaneous worldwide release’ was a phrase never known to any Tamil film distributor, until ‘Sivaji- The Boss’ happened. From then on, every release of ‘anybody who claims that he is a somebody’ in Tamil cinema was touted as a Mega Release. If ‘Sivaji …’ has ignited that trend, ‘Endhiran’, yet another Rajni–Shankar combo has certainly exploded all over the world, in terms of marketing and release.

But what about the signature flavour of both? It may have been 30 months since author Sujatha had passed away, but his trademark spices still waft throughout the film. Shankar’s fondness for ‘what-if’ films continues in Endhiran too. If ‘Indhian’ showed glimpses of his taste to this particular genre, ‘Mudhalvan’ turned out to be his best until ‘Endhiran’ happened. Shankar continues the same here too, with ‘what if a robot (Rajni) develops human emotions?’

Scientist Vaseegaran (Rajni) develops an ‘All-in-all-azhagu-raja’ robot that does everything, except emoting. (Shankar, I must say, has struck gold here, by choosing an actor who’s not well known for expression of any emotion on the screen! It is difficult to imagine a dumbed down version of Kamal or SRK! ). As in any sci-fi film, there’s always a mad scientist and that role is reprised by Danny Dengzongpa. When cornered by the latter, Vaseegaran ‘imparts’ human emotions to his new creation. From then on, ‘the show begins’. Oh, I forgot! There’s also a love interest for Vaseegaran, in the form of Aishwarya Rai.

While Shankar cuts to the chase right from scene one, he loses his breath midway and towards the end falls into the Helen/Alam formula – ‘glam-doll heroine dancing and luring the villain in his den’. Thankfully, he quickly recovers and resorts to what he knows best, CGA. And the film makes or breaks with this acronym. Courtesy a meiotic reproduction, the screen is engulfed with monster robots out to destroy everything, ensuring mayhem in town, Shankar ensures that Sun Productions spends at least one-third of the budget for the last 15 minutes. And as it happens in most of Shankar’s film, the protagonist, in spite of being the ‘raison d’être’ for tearing the city to shreds, is grandly released by a jury.

Rajni, as Vaseegaran, looks old and jaded. One of the biggest let downs in ‘Endhiran’ is the lack of typical Rajni-isms – without any punch dialogues or a grand Rajni-entry song, something seems amiss. Perhaps, it is deliberate on Shankar’s to rip apart the old formula and to create a new Rajni aura. It is only the robot Rajni that saves the grace for Rajni fans. Especially for diehard Rajni fans. He ignites a spark into an otherwise dumb robot. His gaits and his menacing looks add a different panache to the character. Apart from wearing some skimpy dresses and prancing around UNESCO heritage sites, the story ensures that Ms Rai has nothing much to do. Santhanam and Karunas seem a complete misfit and this could perhaps be the first Rajni or Shankar’s film that is devoid of comedy. With Rajni – the scientist and the robot – taking up almost three-fourths of the dialogue, there isn’t much for others to speak and most of the other known names just breeze past. Rahman’s music is more like a Dravid innings – taking time to build up, but when it does, it is savoured for long.

A catchy line for a popular retail store in Chennai belts out, ‘Brammandamai … Brammandamai …’. I am no great fan of the quality of the dish served there. The same goes for ‘Endhiran’ too. However, it is worth a dekko if not for anything but to announce proudly amongst your friends that you too have swum with the current.

PS: This review is by Rajaram, who has a blog. Either he is too lazy or too busy to keep it updated!

My comments: For a change, I am happy not to be swimming with the current!


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