Endhiran (2010) (Robot)
Shankar Shanmugam


EndhiranShankar’s Endhiran (2010) is the sort of material that would have proven gold in the hands of a director like Bertolucci or Hitchcock. It has been over a decade and a half since ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth started playing himself in his movies, maintaining a Brechtian relationship with his audience wherein the actor would slip in and out of the context of the films on whim. And Endhiran only seems like a logical consequence of that choice. Watching the film, it would be useful to remember that the Tamil film and television industry fetishizes the Rajini image to such an extent that all spin-offs from it – spoofs, impersonations, derivatives and pastiches – are celebrated endlessly. New age actors imitate and try to emulate him all the time, with some of them even proclaiming that they’re the next ‘Superstar’. It has, more or less, come to a point where the Rajini image has assumed an immortal life of its own while the man responsible for it has been deemed a faint echo. Given this postmodern, post-Rajinikanth situation the industry is in, much of the premise of Endhiran – a grouchy, ageing, eventually-envious scientist builds a nearly-invulnerable android modeled on his younger self, which goes berserk and multiplies itself to the point where the original (copy) loses its value – feels faintly autobiographical. An affront in every which way to the generally revered tenets of Hollywood storytelling (and science) predicated on plausibility, causality and relevance – as if the writer-director has taken all those Chuck Norris-based Rajinikanth jokes to heart –  Endhiran might just be the harbinger of something that was always within the reach of this industry: Tamil camp!


(Image Courtesy: SouthDreamz)

This is it. One of the two movies I was looking forward this year is here (The other one OBVIOUSLY being “Dasavatharam”). After having seen V. Priya painful fall from “Kanda Naal Mudhal” to “Kannamoochi Yenada”, I did not want to see another successful debutant taking a hard second step. But “Arai Enn 305-il Kadavul” is a large disappointment from a person who gave the genuinely comic “Imsai Arasan, 23-am Pulikesi“.

Rasu (Santhanam) and Mokkai (‘Ganja’ Karuppu) are two roomies living in a wretched part of the city. Their life follows the highly predictable path of humiliation-humiliation-humiliation. With no consolidated job in hand and a love life that is strictly one-sided, Rasu is left with no other option than to curse his creator. And ho! look who’s here…it’s Him (Prakashraj). With the usual “Still don’t believe I’m god?” conversation followed by some gimmicks, God reveals the source of His power – a completely portable, rechargeable galaxy controller box* (*Batteries not included). Our mortals turn green-eyed and steal the galaxy box from God himself!. What follows is their realization that you don’t need superpowers to solve your problems and superpowers don’t solve all your problems.

With an offbeat storyline such as this, what you expect as a follow up to “Imsai Arasan…” is something that is uniquely rib tickling and perhaps even slightly satirical. Not only does “Arai Enn…” fail to maintain a consistent streak of humour but also breaches the thin line between thought-provocation and preaching. The film does intend to create a festive atmosphere with its battalion of characters, but fails to handle them with equal sincerity. As a result, these characters become nothing but props that act as targets to God’s kind deeds. Also, the toying around with the galaxy box goes on for too long, thoroughly hampering the already hurt second half.

Santhanam is not able to emote. You tend to expect a Lollu Sabha punchline (like “Yenna Goinda, nethu rathiri kottaru ashtu full tight pola…”) every time the camera focuses him. Not to mention ‘Ganja’ Karuppu who takes ages to deliver the punchline. Surprisingly, it is the underdogs (Buvana’s mother, ‘Java’ Sundaresan and Mokkai’s nephew) whose performances are commendable. As usual, the heroines (Madhumita and Jyothirmayee) are punctual for their duets and both of them do have an unexpected “twist” at the end.

Vidyasagar‘s score is passable with “Kadhal Sei” being one of the better ones. The biggest technical fall for the movie has to be in the editing department. The first half hour has scenes where you are left puzzled about what’s going on and the meddling around with the galaxy box comes way too late in the second half. A lot of effort has gone into the special effects and it shows (except for some fleeting shots).

In all, “Arai Enn…” is far from interesting and way too short of the standards set by Chimbudevan‘s debut. The movie takes much liberty in endorsing its views than in providing entertainment throughout. Without doubt, Chimbudevan has ideas that could well save a drowning industry, but those are like fine works of glass. Even if one breaks, it is a great story unfortunately wasted. Chimbudevan has to clean up the remains of “Arai Enn…” and move ahead carefully.