Shankar’s museum machine & Rajnikant’s final frontier…

rajnienthiran
In many ways Enthiran is a magnificent summation of Rajnikant’s glorious career, a museum of this great star’s iconic ‘memories’. From his earlier negative supporting parts which often included a chilling doze of humor and in turn the graduation to lead roles where he started developing panache and signature to finally the culmination in the megastar avatar where he was partly an ‘angry’ mass hero in Amitabh Bachchan’s wake but equally creator of a unique confection which included the latter admixture but also a uniquely impish persona married to an astonishingly potent and grandly gestural style that even evoked a sense of the cinema Samurai — there is a treasure trove of cinematic magic here and Shankar’s film references every period of this singularly resonant screen history. In a similar vein Enthiran is also a remarkable summa of Shankar’s own unique movie-making skills and concerns. The film is quite simply his best work and it is hard to imagine how he could better himself in this genre so unique to him and which might, not without compliment, be termed ‘masala on steroids’! Even as the film fuses the potency of Rajnikant’s signature with that of Shankar’s own hallmark moments it is equally a marvelously wicked re-imagining of the Frankenstein myth and its links with the tradition of cinematic science-fiction. If this film is finally, and not surprisingly a morality tale, it is also a somewhat dark reflection on the nature of stardom and the mortality that threatens even the most iconic stars. Shankar has never seemed more ‘serious’ and there might not be a better ‘essay’ on his lead star’s legendary career.

Even by Shankar’s remarkably high octane action standards Enthiran leaves his previous work in the dust. The current film features extraordinarily propulsive action sequences that are superbly edited and backed up by Rahman’s pulsating score. Shankar’s special effects though unusually impressive for his Indian industry (North or South) cannot begin to match the best that Hollywood has to offer but his imagination and spontaneity candidly outdo what the latter exhibits on most days. These are brilliantly choreographed kinetic bursts that often take one’s breath away. Shankar’s action is also perfectly attuned to the velocity of his overall narrative which is fluidly brisk without being frenetic.

Action sequences are only one half of Shankar’s greatest strengths as a visual craftsman. The other equally important one involves of course his dynamic song videos. On this score too Shankar is in his element. Again in this area too it is hard to think of another Shankar film that is so consistently good. Just about every video here is a marvel of sound and sense from the dazzling Irumbile to the somewhat more restrained Machu Picchu number (Kilimanjaro) to the climactic throb of a video in Arima Arima. In a connected sense this is not really a Rahman soundtrack to rival some of his best work with Shankar in the past or even his effort for Rajnikant’s Padaiyappa but one appreciates it far more with the film. His background score might actually be one of his best and even if the songs cannot quite keep pace with the latter there are some genuine high-points greatly enhanced by Shankar’s treatment and again Arima Arima is an authentic peak for the album.

After many years, certainly since Padaiyappa, Rajnikant is once again very physically dominant on screen. With the avatars of the ‘robot’ Shankar adds to the permanent library of this titan’s crucial screen images. And the star in turn handles his part, especially the negative turn, with an aplomb and brio also not seen for a number of years. It is not easy to think of the last time one saw Rajnikant have as much fun with a part as he does in the second half of this film. In Enthiran we do not just see the afterglow of a star we have always adored (as was sadly the case in Sivaji) but the restoration of past potency. Shankar is perfectly cued into all of this. Sivaji featured rather mysteriously a ‘weak’ Rajnikant who had to dodge the goons as opposed to beating them up and even having to be rescued by his lover at another point. In the present film too we find the analog of such a character in the ‘scientist’ but of course we also have the ‘robot’ who is the film’s real star. Might there not be an interesting, even cheeky bit of commentary here on Shankar’s part? The ‘machine’ does today what the biological man once did regularly. It is as if Rajnikant needed to be reinvented as an android to display his complete signature. Much as one picks up on all the screen history Shankar references in this sense one is also constantly reminded of the split between the real and the ‘copy’. The film is therefore a paradox of sorts. The robot will not have been as impressive as the man we once saw and loved for so long. Once upon a time Rajnikant did not need the ‘machine’. Shankar’s great Rajnikant museum is also quite naturally a mausoleum. And the creator here has only fashioned what he has himself lost.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who has always seemed to me to be not just a more attractive star with age but also a more interesting one enjoys one of her commercial summits in this outing. It is not a part that begs for much performance but it is certainly one that needs a strong star signature in a film that trades so much in the ‘iconic’. Aishwarya is easily upto the job and it is hard to imagine another actress North or South being able to suggest similar stature in this contest of star signatures that Shankar has set up!

Enthiran is an addictive watch. On a personal note I cannot remember the last time a commercial Indian film gave me such a thrill in the theater. It is not to diminish Shankar’s singularity much less Rajnikant’s to suggest that this is the kind of cinema Bombay has forgotten how to make. And it puts all of Bollywood’s recent such attempts in the shade, whether in the glitzy action thriller mode or the retro-masala one, including most acutely Dabangg which seems like amateur hour after Enthiran’s grand opera! Shankar has certainly always loved fantasy whether by way of period elements or the superhero/vigilante mode or even his song videos but he has for all this been essentially a masala filmmaker who has greatly upgraded the genre. With Enthiran he sums up two careers. It will be fascinating to see what he or Rajnikant does going forward. There would seem to be no more horizons left to conquer..

Advertisements

138 Responses to “Shankar’s museum machine & Rajnikant’s final frontier…”

  1. And I’ll say this again — it is a crime not to watch this in the theater!

    Like

  2. Bhalo_Manush Says:

    Watched this in a theater in kolkata…totally agree that this should not be missed on big screen..

    It has every thing that one can expect from a Shankar movie…Great visuals, special effects and more importantly a nice STORY…

    What can one say about Rajnikanth?? There are many superstars in India like Big B, Aamir, SRK, Salman etc…but Rajni is baap of all the superstars…

    Bollywood stars should learn from him and stop expending money on excessive promotions…

    Like

  3. Nice piece – looks like you liked and enjoyed the movie more than I did. I walked out after the first half on my second viewing last weekend. Plan to see the whole movie again this weekend.

    Like

  4. Rules are different for Bollywod movies. Promotions are needed. Otherwise the curiosity levels wont be that much. Rajni’s case is different. Having Him is itself a huge promotion in Tamil Nadu. Just like having SRK as the main hero in bollywood movies. SRK is suave and Bachchan is super suave. Tamil Nadu worships style.n And Rajni has loads of it.

    Like

  5. masterpraz Says:

    Brilliant review….got me exicted to watch this now Satyam!

    Which would you say is more of an ode/tribute to Rajni? I’m yet to watch a decent copy of SIVAJI, however something tells me that ROBOT achieves what SIVAJI didn’t?

    Like

  6. I will comment after watching the movie.

    Like

  7. Wow, high praise indeed.
    Hats off to Shankar and Rajini Saar.

    Like

  8. We of course had a very similar impression here..thanks for this compulsive read.

    I especially agree with the insight that this puts pretenders in the shade. And yes, this might be Shankar’s best film. Certainly his smartest.

    Like

  9. Abhishek:

    Just finished seeing ROBOT!!! MINDBLOWING!!!! nothing else can be said…

    Have a robot hangover!!!!

    Just tried to become a huge snake and eat some of the cars to beat the traffic!! Didn’t go down too well!!

    Like

  10. Bachchan:

    Just back from ‘Robot’ and meeting up with Rajni at PVR Juhu …what an experience .. incredible !! Whistles claps applause ..amazing

    ROBOT a sensation all over .. Rajni you are just unbelievable my friend ..many more accolades your way ..!

    Like

  11. nice job as usual, satyam

    Here are my views.

    I was not very enthusiastic to watch this at first, because Rajni’s last with Sivaji was pretty mediocre to be honest.. way too loud ands not much happening in terms of story, it surprised me to know what had so many people liked in that film..

    however, a couple of great reviews of Robot followed after its release. I had earlier thought it would a loud, outrageous film.. But post the positive reviews, I went with my friend to watch this.

    This was the second Rajni film I was about to watch in theatre (the first one was Hum, release 19 years ago).. the movie wastes no time in showing what it intends to.. great special effects, a powerful story, and entertaining enough to keep you glued through its proceedings.. Shankar needs to be applauded for his work.

    Rajni is the man here.. although he towers above all in the performance department, not once do you feel the plot is taking a backseat to go all out in showcasing him..
    Loved some of the scenes.. the train sequence was excellent; loved the one as well, the robot attracts everything metallic to himself.. The theatre had erupted in sounds of claps all around then..

    last half an hour – well, it was no doubt great with so much imagination on the part of the director, but it was too loud I thought.. nevertheless, lots of hard work had seemed to go into it.

    overall a 3.5/5..

    Note: I watched it in a PVR multiplex on Monday 6 pm show and the theatre was housefull.. the BOI total of 1.75 crore seems suspicious to me.

    Like

    • Thanks for your views.. to be honest I did not have a problem with any segment of the film.. I agree completely that this is a true Rajni film unlike Sivaji which was a joke (frankly despite all the hype the film didn’t really have great legs.. by southern standards) and I quite disliked the film..

      On the numbers I think BOI have been on the low side anyway.. they had 4 crores net for the weekend whereas IBOS had 6-8 crores.

      Like

  12. One should never judge a Rahman too soon. For a few initial listens somehow Enthiran didn’t do anything for me. I then returned to it after a break and some of it started growing on me even if I felt that Rahman was repeating himself without adding anything significant to the mix. However I have changed my mind about some of the music and specially after watching the movie. I think Arima is really a very strong track from Rahman and I don’t believe there’s anything even on Sivaji that’s better than this. Kilimanjaro is quintessential Rahman also quintessential Shankar in a certain wacky way but it’s nonetheless very good. I earlier liked Pudhiya Manidha the most and I still like it but besides the two songs I’ve just mentioned I also prefer Irumbile to it. Finally the Chitti medley is great! So this album has truly gone up in my estimation. Admittedly watching the videos helped but I was getting there in the weak leading upto the release. Arima is something I’m just addicted to. It’s such a pulsating number!

    Like

    • Find Arima Arima just too loud though the portions Endhira, Endhira is very catchy. Love Pudhiya Manitha and Love You Robo…..the start is pulsating and Shankar’s visualization of the same the camera runs from the exterior surface through the body of the robot to its supposed electronic heart is psychedelic……just superb!

      Like

  13. mksrooney Says:

    Thnks, a bit occupied would check this and gfs.. later.

    Like

  14. masterpraz Says:

    Satyam: Off topic but I finally got my hands on SACRED GAMES..

    Any other good books by Indian authors? I’ve got an order on THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST..any others?

    Like

    • check out The Immortals (Amit Chaudhuri).

      Like

      • masterpraz Says:

        Great, will check it out. I thought SHANTARAM was tremendous. I have a huge weakness for MAXIMUM CITY too.

        I’m currently just finishing up Shashi Tharoor’s THE TIGER, THE ELEPHANT AND THE CELLPHONE (and then SACRED GAMES next).

        In between I read Indra Sinha’s ANIMALS PEOPLE…simply brilliant. Tragic and poignant it’s a must-read!

        Sinha has another book called The Cybergypsies : A True Tale of Lust, War, & Betrayal on the Electronic Frontier which I have to check out.

        BTW have you read Mistry’s A FINE BALANCE?

        Like

  15. This is a splendid review overall, and accords the film with a ‘reading’ that very few Indian critic unfortunately do not bother to do, or are actually unequipped to do, with a ‘masala’ film. Even otherwise, a ‘Rajni’ experience ain’t just ‘masala’… it is a summa of that, and then some more as it re-codes it in its own way with its central star as the default language.

    When I’d read the reviews of the film, even without seeing it, I could sense a certain ‘deconstruction’ of Rajni the star… sorry Super Star …and Rajni the man. The whole premise of a ‘human’ Rajni creating a ‘superhuman’, nay non-human ‘Rajni’ didn’t seem merely like an excuse to build a narrative that allows Rajni to pull off ‘Rajni’ stunts.

    In any case, I’ve yet to see this… and I”m kinda bummed that they’ve not released the Tamil version with subtitles in India. There are man like me who want to experience the film with a loud Tamil crowd, as seeing the dubbed Hindi one in a half-full multiplex defeats the purpose.

    Like

  16. Satyam,
    Very interesting review, as always, but I disagree on a few counts. First, about Endhiran, I watched it yesterday and thought it was fun for the most part. The long action sequences towards the end didn’t do much for me, though the special effects were definitely very well done for an Indian film. It’s just that I’d have preferred way less autopilot action.

    Anyway, coming to the point. For someone whom I personally consider instructive (to say the least!) on masala cinema in general, I continue to find your characterization of Shankar as proper masala a rather lazy one. I think I’ve argued this point with respect to Anniyan earlier. (I for one think Anniyan was markedly different from the masala films that Vikram was doing with such aplomb around that time.) I don’t think Shankar is a proper masala filmmaker in the traditional sense. He’s obviously a hugely commercial and immensely iconic filmmaker, but are his films like the erstwhile masala films of Rajini? Do his films hark back to the kind of subaltern heroes that these films constructed and put forward? I think he was very much a post-liberalisation filmmaker and in many ways opened up “new paths” for Tamil commercial cinema to tread on. And he has only gone (or taken Tamil cinema) farther with Endhiran. Again, I’m not arguing his films were any less massy or commercial, but that those films weren’t quite like quintessential masala films. Do I mean to say his films were completely “new” back then? No, for instance, there were some very popular vigilante films in the 80s too (many of them made by one Mr. S A Chandrasekhar), but that wasn’t what the masala film heroes were made of (even if they starred in those films).

    And Shankar sure did change the course of Tamil commercial cinema with these films. There were a lot of new filmmakers who duly imbibed a lot of his standard tropes and style. Several, several films that were about solving that ‘one issue’ with the system. Some were about the education system, some about the law system, some focused on the bureaucracy and so on. But again, even today, I think these films are self-evidently different from proper masalas like Ayan or Saamy.

    And to clarify my point a bit further, I don’t mean to imply that masala has rigid boundaries. For instance, many of the recent masala films occur in the wake of, or at least in some ways refracted through, the “Last Man Standing” archetype (primarily since Okkadu I guess). But Shankar’s films, I think, are somewhat ‘essentially’ different from the masala paradigm even as they borrow many familiar masala tropes for their own ends.

    Like

  17. “But again, even today, I think these films are self-evidently different from proper masalas like Ayan or Saamy.”

    Missed another point I wanted to make here. When I say “even today,” I’m also alluding to how Shankar’s films were originally received by the larger audience back then. Most of his films were indeed considered something “new” and “fresh” for Tamil cinema. And there was also an elite connection his films always had, unlike traditional masala films which usually kept them at a certain distance. (This is also the reason why Shankar, as a filmmaker, used to be mentioned more alongside Mani Ratnam than proper masala filmmakers of the 90s. That he has little in common with a filmmaker like Mani Ratnam is screaming obvious, but this is precisely the point where the two meet.)

    Like

    • I think you’re confusing plot mechanics and narrative (or thematic ambition) with genre. Masala is the latter, or, as Satyam has astutely mentioned in the past, an “uber-genre” where all manner of narratives and tones can be housed. In its best incarnations the masala film is fluid in its inclusion of these various types and tones into its elaborate and epic narrative. What you’re saying about Shankar doesn’t touch on the fact that his films might be “about” something not commonly found in a lot of other masala films being made (though even here I would disagree) but are sometimes still masala in the sense that these are epically-structured narratives with various film-types (romance, action, sci-fi, drama, slapstick) wrapped into the mix. Perhaps I’m confused by what you mean in saying that Shankar has moved Tamil cinema forward, but if this is a matter of making films that have serious, overt sociopolitical underpinnings, it’s important to note that this kind of consciousness is in abundance in the truest masala movies. If on the other hand you’re talking about stylistics (which is REALLY the reason I think Shankar and Ratnam are often clubbed together—as very different pop-auteurs of a film culture) then yes, Shankar has definitely been instrumental in moving Tamil cinema into new terrain.

      Like

      • GF,
        I don’t see masala as a genre at all here. I completely agree with Satyam’s argument in that regard. (As I mentioned, I find most of his arguments in this regard very very insightful and even instructive.) But on the other hand, I’m also not sure if it’s basically about having an epic sort of narrative. I think it unmistakably involves a sense of folklore in the manner it draws from the riches of our mythology.

        Like

        • Damn, I re-posted to put the comment in the right place of the conversation (in reply to GF’s), but put it in a wrong place again! Satyam, can you please delete one of the comments (and move it to the right place if possible, considering the effort I’ve already put in:))?

          Like

      • ZERO:

        “Perhaps I’m confused by what you mean in saying that Shankar has moved Tamil cinema forward, but if this is a matter of making films that have serious, overt sociopolitical underpinnings, it’s important to note that this kind of consciousness is in abundance in the truest masala movies.”

        No, I don’t mean it that way. I’m not at all arguing that it’s the overtly serious sociopolitical consciousness that differentiates Shankar from masala! And I am with you on the point that this kind of consciousness (or any kind of ‘seriousness’ for that matter) is not at all divorced from masala.

        “If on the other hand you’re talking about stylistics (which is REALLY the reason I think Shankar and Ratnam are often clubbed together—as very different pop-auteurs of a film culture) then yes, Shankar has definitely been instrumental in moving Tamil cinema into new terrain.”

        I’m not talking just about stylistics, but yes, it ties in with the point I’m trying to make here.

        Like

        • Zero, I agree with everything GF has said in response to your comment.

          Perhaps Shahenshah is the important film for an entire vigilante tradition in Tamil cinema which also incorporates distinct fantasy elements. Shahenshah in an odd sense is Bachchan’s real impasse. I have always made the point that the fantasy/superhero narrative diminishes the masala megastar who never ought to need such a ‘crutch’. But also because the ‘masked man’ trope renders a comic book element to a masala universe that otherwise depends on a set of ‘grounded’ (in reality) registers. At the same time this plot device offers the chance to upgrade masala. Especially so with more ‘mortal’ stars. To wit you can have Arjun in Gentleman but Rajni would be a bit absurd (though the film would still work). Because again the superhero ‘topos’ involves the very ordinary, mundane ‘double’. The megastar is ill-equipped to handle this side of the equation. Shahenshah handles this by presenting a very comical character as the alter ego. But there are moments when the guy is normal and suddenly one is not sure as a viewer where one is. There’s something unsettling about those moments. Because here the normal Bachchan ‘hero’ seeps through. Neither ‘Shahenshah’ nor the comical inspector.

          Hindi cinema just abandoned masala after the late 80s more or less. there are different reasons for this but those are not very important to this discussion. In the South the vigilante tradition became huge. there were some roots even in the 80s to a degree but in the 90s this became one of the supreme ways to do masala.

          Shankar I think understood the Shahenshah problem as I’ve laid it out, whether this was his film of reference or not. So many of his very iconic films in this genre work with this tension. Note how he never worked with Rajni until very late. With gentleman, Mudhalvan, Indian you have stars who were manageable playing both ends of the spectrum. Not to compare Arjun to Kamal but the latter is no Rajni either in this genre. Eventually he moved to Vikram but even here note how Vikram’s iconic history has always been ‘split’ between Bala’s interventions and the more masala stuff. In other words Vikram himself had always been splitting the difference between Rajni and Kamal (and actually had gained a great deal of prestige as an actor for this reason). so he too could still be incorporated into Anniyan.

          Sivaji however is a disaster of a film. Because Shankar couldn’t figure out what to do with Rajni here. So he just created a circus, And I think he does realize his error. Robot offers a correction even here.

          But Shankar (as GF and I were discussing the other day) has himself handled the tension uneasily in just about all of his masala efforts barring Enthiran. The stars worked for him but there was also the question of form. Because the superhero world has a set of coordinates that cannot easily be integrated with those of a masala universe. Gentleman or Indian or even Anniyan (though I enjoy both films) are uneven films. It’s partly because Shankar’s heart is always on the ‘fantasy’ side of the equation but also because there is something antithetical about those modes.

          With Robot Shankar finally gets it right. But this might represent an impasse even for him. Because he finally has the perfect reason to get over the Rajni hump (what does one do with this titan at this stage of his career when despite his continuing iconic appeal he is definitely not what he used to be in very many ways?) by making the film about the megastar’s screen history. This Rajnikant cannot be ‘uber hero’ anymore without the aid of ‘machinery’.

          But all of this is still very much masala. Shankar’s form and ‘technological’ inclinations again perhaps bridge the gap between Bollywood and Hollywood but he remains at heart a masala filmmaker. It is about good and evil, it is very much the moral universe of masala, it has the outlandish song videos, the bursts of comedy, so on and so forth. In fact the fire sequence in the first half has an element that otherwise jars but makes my point completely. The girl who is rescued in a state of undress and the resulting tragedy. This is classic Shankar — for all the ‘globalized’ technology at his hero’s disposal there are still some very traditional ‘honor and shame’ structures that keep erupting! Or consider the love triangle! What could be more classic masala than this?! Including the old plot angle of the ‘friend’ who turns villain out of erotic jealousy, who eventually realizes the error of his ways and is willing to give his life to make up for the damage he’s caused? Don’t we see something similar here at the end?!

          And again the epic universe is never too far for Shankar. All the vigilante films deal with ‘avatars’!

          The thriller mode or the sci-fi one and/or the fantasy elements make Shankar simply the most interesting masala director of his generation anywhere in India. Because he’s clearly moving the genre forward. On the other hand much as one might love say a Pokkiri there’s nothing new here. A certain tonal distance perhaps but that’s it. Incidentally this too is why I appreciated Aamir’s Ghajini so much. Because Aamir too gets this. You can upgrade masala by incorporating certain ‘global’ cinematic trends.

          This ‘compromise’ if one wants to call it that also has an advantage. For an upwardly mobile Indian audience that might not be as interested in ‘revolution’ (if at all) as it once might have been this kind of cinema becomes acceptable as ‘fantasy’ or as Hollywoodized fare. So one can think one is watching fantastic SFX (and this is true) but Shankar is really selling you an old as the hills morality tale! The Frankenstein bit has been overdone in the West but Shankar Indianizes this and converts it into an Indian buddy film or a love triangle.. so on and so forth. similarly with Ghajini the audience thinks it’s about Aamir’s look and the Memento aspect etc but it’s really a fairly traditional vendetta tale. It’s not a bad compromise to the extent that you never give short shrift to the basic emotional resonance of the genre or the stakes involved. Whereas something like Dabanng tries to slip one by the audience. here it’s all about gesture!

          By the way it’s not only about Bollywood. Tamil cinema has had its own impasse post-Vikram (who probably realized this in his own way). You either have B graders like Ajith and Vijay who will never get the best directors to sign them in any genre who keep churning out their stuff, it usually does a fast fade, sometimes better but the ‘multiplexes’ never really sign up. Then there’s Surya who does better versions of the same but who remains acceptable to the upscale crowd because he is not really seen as being ‘like’ Vijay or Ajith. In a sense everyone gets the joke while he increases his market with the rest of the audience. Vikram clearly does not want to do just masala anymore. He’s had ‘uncertain’ attempts for this reason. He is still the biggest after Rajni but he might never really exploit this fact. Now of course you have ‘middle cinema’ or middle of the road films that also take a lot of masala features but place them in more ‘realistic’ terrain. finally all those thrillers for years that have certain masala elements. So really even in Tamil cinema the space for high profile masala has dried up to a great extent. Vijay and Ajith and the like flatter to deceive. This is not really where the action is (pun intended!). Unlike Telugu where even the biggest stars can keep doing fairly regular masala and no one has a problem. Shankar however rises above all of this. To my mind because he genuinely does something different. Incidentally his films wouldn’t be such successes if they didn’t have the kind of masala I at least see in them.

          Like

      • Oh, thanks GF! (I was just wondering if the “parent” comment alone could be altered. Pardon the unnecessary curiosity, my software engineer self got the better of me. :))

        By the way, just to clarify, I’m not saying all of this to argue that Shankar is better than masala. Not sure if it came across that way. I’m not at all a fan, though one can’t deny his obvious strengths in terms of style.

        Like

        • No I understand you weren’t saying that. And we’re in the same boat. I’m not a fan of Shankar’s as such even if I’ll always credit him for interesting premises and an imagination that’s clearly a bit bonkers in good and bad ways! And I would be lying if I said I considered his films completely masala in a general sense, but as you yourself pointed out, there is a lot borrowed from the masala style and tone. To my mind there are definitely films from this guy that fit the masala mold and other films that are their own quirky genre unto themselves!

          Like

          • I too have never been a great fan of Shankar’s but I also believe he’s never made anything as good as Robot. Did love Anniyan but Vikram was a huge part of it. Also think Mudhalvan was very well done. In any case I probably have a better appreciation of why Shankar’s choices might be what they are than I did some years ago.

            Like

  18. why_so_serious Says:

    I don’t think Shankar is a proper masala filmmaker in the traditional sense. He’s obviously a hugely commercial and immensely iconic filmmaker, but are his films like the erstwhile masala films of Rajini? Do his films hark back to the kind of subaltern heroes that these films constructed and put forward?
    ———–
    Good point.
    Forget Sivaji, which is an attempt to be “Rajini masala” by Shankar. Perhaps why it sucked so badly.
    But Enthiran? That’s definitely very unlike “Rajini masala”. It’s also a condescending attitude to not seriously engage with it as if it’s just another “Rajini masala” film.

    Like

  19. why_so_serious Says:

    All roads lead to Bachchan here. We know this much. Shahenshah has nothing much to do with Shankar’s films, whether its treatment or formal choices. Superficially shallow to suggest otherwise.

    Suggesting Rajini as a lesser actor (not being molded to characters) OR Kamal as non-star (not having an iconic history – As for Superhero/Vigilante stuff – Kamal did it as old as Guru in 80 FFS). Hilarious stuff.

    As for any “XYZ contemporary star” “splitting the difference between Rajni and Kamal ” – it’s ridiculous to suggest XYZ is half the actor that Rajini is. Or half the star that Kamal is.

    As for the overall reading, I think the film that’s closest to Enthiran/Robot (which was meant/written for Kamal) happens to be Indian/Hindustani, where you have Senapathy’s Chandru as Vasi’s Chitti, and when that progeny turns out to be corrupt/evil, it has to be eliminated – for betterment of Society. And what does Shankar do? Do it with Rajini, the only other actor with enough stature and histrionic talent to replace Kamal. Not Vikram. Who is several notches below both as star or actor.

    But then again, agendas blinds one completely. Severe insecurities and propaganda to glorify their singular favorite, has-been as he is.

    Like

    • I think one cannot do much with someone who refuses to ‘read’. But yes as a matter of fact all Indian masala roads do ultimately lead back to bachchan and Rajni would be the first to very happily admit this. You ask just about any post Bachchan megastar in the South and they would say as much.

      Like

      • why_so_serious Says:

        So you’re saying there weren’t masala cinema before Salim-Javed. You’re ignorant.

        Like

        • why_so_serious Says:

          Even if Rajini sees Bachchan as role model as a star, Rajini’s gestural history owes to one man only. He himself had admitted to have lifted mannerisms from this icon to level of imitating..

          Like

        • there’s no point in going back and forth over this. It’s not a serious discussion. No one’s denying anything about Rajnikant but some of us like to move beyond the ‘Rajni’s my hero’ position. Much as I might revere Bachchan but that doesn’t prevent me from delivering some very harsh judgments about him and on his very blog. We all have our favorite stars but we have to get beyond washing portraits with milk to engage in a serious discussion.

          Like

          • why_so_serious Says:

            “doesn’t prevent me from delivering some very harsh judgments about him”

            Don’t make me laugh. You’ve been doing nothing but “AB is my hero” here. It’s your blog after all, you could do with your whims, desires, etc. Except you should close down comments for others to not disagree with that..

            But then again, we’d still be left with Thilakan(s) who don’t get their due for their Perumthachan(s) because of such propaganda..

            Like

          • well again you haven’t read anything!

            Like

          • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

            WSS, Just googled and got the thilakan connection..skeletons in closet..haha

            Like

    • and consider your own position.. you privilege Sivaji (Ganesan) over everyone else.. the other day you even suggested there was such a connection for the last 3-4 Rajni films! You referenced a piece where Rajni acknowledged Sivaji’s influence. So are you insecure about Sivaji?

      As far as I’m concerned it’s just a question of establishing a certain masala genealogy. Otherwise some of us have been talking about Rajni’s unique contribution for years. It doesn’t diminish Rajnikant to establish a genealogy for him.

      But yeah much as I adore Rajni I would easily take Bachchan and Mohanlal over him.

      Like

      • why_so_serious Says:

        Leave Lal out. You make your hero Bachchan silly every time you use him up. I take it as a sign of insecurity.

        Rajini keeps showing up Bachchan with every passing year as a star. As an actor, Bachchan could never top Rajini’s Mullum Malarum. Not even Deewar could wash.

        Like

          • why_so_serious Says:

            That doesn’t change anything. AB’s Vijay wouldn’t stand up to Rajini’s rendition of Kaali. Period.

            And clever saying “you haven’t read anything!”, when someone quite clearly read to the point of seeing right through you (And your ways!)

            Like

    • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

      Totally agree with you WSS! It’s a lone battle, but you’re never defeated.

      Rajini sir is a superb actor in his own right. Kamal sir is Vasool raja who rules n sustains his position..1-2, he and thalaivar are permanent slots. Kamal sir has the record number of years..We don’t need to convince anybody. People know the difference between truth and illusion aided by twisted facts & pure lies. Agree with you that mullum malarum is the best thalaivar performance. I never rate amitji as a better actor than rajini sir to see him doing anything close to kaali character in mullum malarum. the ‘keta payan sir avan’ moment…wow just wow..

      some people cant stomach even ur connections to sivaji sir in last hits of rajini sir…even if its pure fact..they should look in mirror for fabricated lies..

      As for star status, both our darlings have dominated our industry for decades. And given us memorable performances and moments to be proud of. Why do we need to compare to yesteryear stars of other industries anyway. who are driven to do underwear ads and television programs. We have more glories and milestones to be set. Thalaivar solra madhiri, DOT.

      Like

      • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

        WSS, Shahenshah connection is a plausible theory but your lovely connections to Sivaji sir in rajini sir’s last hits is reduced to “starlove” and “LOL”. You should stop posting here. Open up a new blog with all the informative tidbits that you have provided us here. or if you already have one. Mail the link if you cant disclose here..my mail address is perazhags2083@gmail.com

        Like

  20. I’ve watched the Hindi version which is clearly feeling like dubbed film. That shows why the Hindi version has lowest BO. This film has got great reviews and applause from different film personalities. But I’ve felt it is overtediuos with technology. We have to watch it with full audience to enjoy it. Rajani and Ash are very good.

    My review mostly matches Sandhya Iyers.

    http://www.sakaaltimes.com/SakaalTimesBeta/20101002/5185860273266216887.htm

    Like

    • My experience was very different as you know. I dislike dubbed films anyway though here in NY there’s a great screen showing it in Times Sq and there is a good argument to watch the Hindi just for that screen. I might well do so myself, specially since I suspect I will be watching it once more certainly but maybe more than this. But in general I can’t stand dubbed films.

      I must say I disagree with the central bit on Sandy’s review. I can certainly buy someone not liking the film as much as I did but I do believe this is a Rajni film. He’s dominant here as a star in a way in which he hasn’t been for a long time. And he was just magnetic as the negative robot. also felt there was enough emotional resonance here throughout. And again I couldn’t get enough of those final action sequences!

      Like

      • twitter comments:

        Shekar kapoor:

        Kudo’s 2 Shankar n Rajnikant fr ROBOT, Chitti d Robot is grt charactr and beautifully playd by Rajnikant highly entertaing

        ROBOT is technically very competent

        In response from RGV:

        here’s nothing to think about robot..u can only feel

        RajaMouliss(MagaDheera director):

        Shankar sir has grasped the pulse of the audience like no other director.hats off to his imagination and the persistence to achieve it.
        To my knowledge oke okkadu and robo has the best storylines in all his movies

        this gonna be the biggest hit ever.

        Like

  21. @ SATYAM, your dragging of AB anywhere and everywhere does not help in any which way to the enrichment or enhancement of the topic. You ought to do away with this habit of yours as it derails the subject of the topic. It also insinuates your insecurities with regard to Mr. Bachchan, as It appears that AB is “be all and end all” of your cosmos, which actually is not true, but in your extreme fanaticism you leave such impressions. I am a big admirer of your analytical writings on almost every thing but “Bachchans”, as this is the point where you lose your objectivity and justify every thing AB has done( irrespective of right or wrong).

    Like

    • LOL, it doesn’t seem to be my day!

      Like

      • Some of the discourse here is downright dishonest,some disingenuous, some unintentionally funny, some hopelessly ill informed and a lot of it out of place.
        Do you guys read what Satyam has said about Rajini and Endhiran before making ridiculous allegations?

        One good thing about being an AB fan ( there are quite a few including the pleasure of peering down at the fans of the others stars from the exalted position they enjoy by the virtue of their excellent taste) is you dont have to feel insecure. OK, you have to deal with some lungi wearing, idli chewing, sambar spitting ignoramuses ( hows that for ethic stereotyping) who come out of the closet called the ‘SOUTH’ every three-four years when a Rajini starrer comes along or some delusional SRK fans who think SRK is the King or the Badshah and an occasional insecure Aamir fan. But, you brush them off like AB has brushed of competition ( and I am giving them undue respect by calling them competition) and move on.

        I sincerely salute Rajini for being this massively loved, adulated, charismatic star that he is and the passion he provokes in his fans. I have only seen his Hindi films and while he has occasionally been fun and interesting, I cannot say he has ever been a competition for AB and actually even quite a few of lesser stars. He has a legion of faithful and ‘crazy’ ( in a good way0 fans in tow or three states). May be every single person in those states is a passionate Rajini fan but I do not buy the argument that it makes him the biggest star in India. It is an unprecedented achievement that his films make staggering sums from those few states that can rival the biggest Hindi block busters but again there are some cultural influences at play in the way South hpatronises its stars and films compared to the rest of India. And more power to them.
        If I do have a problem with extrapolating that and translating it into ‘national ‘ appeal, I think I am justified. People lose perspective when it comes to their favorite stars, movies, players and teams. We are all guilty of that. To me the fact that AB is the biggest Indian star is a fact and not an opinion. But, some may think differently. If AB was voted the ‘star of the millenium in some British poll, I take it with a pinch of salt as I acknowledge that it is driven by havy voting by people from the subcontinent. As big a star as AB is I would never make the argument that he is the biggest global star becuase the reach of his films is still limited compared to Hollywood films.

        I do agree it is time for Rajini fans to rejoice and they need to be given some space and some leeway in their claims but atleast keep things in perspective.

        I would be overjoyed if Robot and the Tamil version becomes the biggest block buster ever but it has to be based on facts. Given what little I know of its economics I am extremely skeptical about what kind of return on investment it can provide. What it has doen is fantastic but I dont see enough to label it the biggest hit ever.

        Like

      • Satyam, serves you right for making things so hard on Thilakan. LOL!

        Like

        • WSS,
          So typical. You hone in on the tongue in chic ethnic comment but have no cohesive rebuttal.
          Your only tune is Rajini is my God (and his God is Thackeray).

          On a separate note, the best Rajini turn in Hindi for me is the character he played in Bhrashtachar, a rather obscure flop from Ramesh Sippy.

          Like

          • BTW,here is an interesting Rajini story. A joke I had heard before with characters changed.

            Rajinikanth was bragging to Jayalalitha one day, “You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them.”

            Tired of his boasting, Jayalalitha called his bluff, “OK, Rajini how about Tom Cruise?” “Sure, yes, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it” Rajini said.

            So Rajini and Jayalalitha fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise’s door, and sure enough, Tom Cruise shouts “Thalaiva! Great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch!”. Although impressed, Jayalalitha is still skeptical.

            After they leave Cruise’s house, she tells Rajini that she thinks Rajini knowing Cruise was just lucky. “No, no, just name anyone else” Rajini says. “President Bush”, Jayalalitha quickly retorts. “Yes”, Rajini says, “I know him, let’s fly out to Washington”. And off they go. At the White House, Bush spots Rajini on the tour and motions him, saying, “Rajini, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let’s have a cup of coffee first and catch up”. Well, Jayalalitha is very shaken by now, but still not totally convinced.

            After they leave the White House grounds, she expresses his doubts to Rajini who again implores her to name anyone else. “The Pope”, Jayalalitha replies. “Sure!” says Rajini, “My folks are from Poland and I’ve known the Pope a long time”. So off they fly to Rome.

            Rajini and Jayalalitha are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Rajini says, “This will never work. I can’t catch the Pope’s eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards so let me just go upstairs and I’ll come out on the balcony with the Pope.” And he disappears into the crowd headed toward the Vatican.

            Sure enough, half an hour later Rajini emerges with the Pope on the balcony. But by the time Rajini returns, he finds that Jayalalitha had a Heart Attack and is surrounded by paramedics.

            Working his way to Jayalalitha’s side, Rajini asks her, “What happened?”

            Jayalalitha looks up and says, “I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the man next to me said who’s that on the balcony with Rajini?”

            Like

          • why_so_serious Says:

            I didn’t want to dignify your comment with a meaningful response. As for your GOD, even Rajini admires him. Perhaps this will lighten up your day. Rajini speaks of Amitabh as an inspiration/rolemodel in a heartfelt manner.(Though he also end(s) with a note on Sivaji’s acting in Parasakthi. 😉 )

            Like

  22. The amazing thing is that this piece of mine has led to such commentary!

    Like

    • Let me recount a true Sivaji story for WSS.
      When I was in elementary school, I had a friend whose family hailed from Madras. One day while I was at his place, he said – Your Hindi actors are nothing. Sivaji Ganesan is a real actor. And I was like – Sivaji who?
      He took out a dog eared South Indian film periodical ( of rather third grade production values) and showed me a pic of a rather hirsute, adiposally blessed male of extreme facial follicularity ( later on I came to know these features are shared by most Tamil actors of that generation and some heroines too!) and I fell of my chair laughing. Goes without saying I still havent recovered from the mental trauma inflicted by that pic and my friend still hasnt earned back all his credibility yet.

      Like

    • Exactly! I love that even in a piece that ends with these sentences:

      “It will be fascinating to see what he or Rajnikant does going forward. There would seem to be no more horizons left to conquer.”

      …results in commentary about how you’re privileging Bachchan over Rajini! All roads lead to Bachchan here indeed – even when we’re not in the driver’s seat.

      Like

  23. why_so_serious Says:

    rajen,
    You need to shake off the annoyingly outdated Cartman persona with Bachchan standing-in for Mel Gibson as your living room poster, and South Indians standing-in for Jews. (face palm)

    Like

    • LOL. BTB.

      You are welcome to come up with inflammatory anti -Gujju slurs.

      Like

      • @ Rajen, stop playing shield for Satyam as he himself is capable of doing it. Your case is worse than Satyam, who at least hears and reads, but you even rule our that possibility. Indian film industry has produced enough talents over the years beyond AB, so your fixation and myopic view needs to go beyond him to enjoy and relish the diversity, the history and present without bias.

        Like

        • mksrooney Says:

          my two cents-

          1. for each his own legend
          2. every one sees history from his own pov.
          3. for those who have seen bachchan its hard to accept anything else, we need to understand that.
          4. for eg. in my generation, many see aamir khan/shahrukh khan as torch bearer, and great, so for them they are eternal. truth is we see the world from our eyes.
          5. and in case of amitji i dont belong to his generation, but one needs to understand Big B (notmy views, only observation) to understand the legend himself!!

          so for each his own and his own narrative f history.

          ps- rajen lol at that rajni joke!!

          Like

          • Isnt it ironical that someone whose identity is defined by their fandom ( myselfaamir) is talking about fixation and someone whose name is why_so_serious cannot take a joke!

            Like

          • Exactly, Rooney.
            At the end of the end to each his own.
            I am just resisting these rather pitiful attempts to hoist Rajini upon us as the biggest star ever in India.

            Like

      • This reminds me of Puranas, where every follower wrote a purana to glorify his/ her god, saying He/She is the best and only saviour.. same in other “isms”….
        blindness leads only to darkness n nowhere..
        2+2=4 is fact and som1 is best is opinion… nothing more.

        close minds are dangerous minds

        How History repeats itself…………

        let me end with one pertinent thought : ” Majority is never proof of Truth”….

        Like

      • mksrooney Says:

        “their fandom ( myselfaamir) is talking about fixation and someone whose name is why_so_serious cannot take a joke!”

        LOL rajen!!

        Like

  24. It is even more ironical to keep fighting for an absurd and illusional POV, which neither is a fact nor a truth!!!!!!! Why can’t you live with the fact that not every body can concur with your POV and that your hero can not be every one’s hero in the exact way as your.
    Another thing, being fan and being fanatic are 2 radically different things, which, you belonging to the latter, can not fathom. So better i leave it at this juncture, as i am a fan not fanatic and in no way believe in conversion(FANATIC, NEVER EVER).

    Like

    • But not everything can simply be ‘perspective’. You cannot say that some prefer Lata and others prefer Sunidhi Chauhan and that this is just a matter of perspective! This does not ‘disallow’ anyone from loving the latter but when it comes to an appraisal no one sane would put the latter over the former. Sehwag might be a hero for one’s generation but hopefully one will not object too much when someone else insists on Bradman’s predominance!

      Like

      • no body is objecting or raising doubts over the supremacy AB commands, but it does not make any sense to drag him in each and every case irrespective of the issue’s demand. Let’s stop looking from tinted glasses of “MY OR YOUR HERO” and go beyond this lunacy of unnecessary justifications and excuses on their behalf. Wish sanity would prevail!

        Like

        • “Sanity” in a discussion is a two-way street. It would behoove you (and anyone else interested in piping in at random) to actually read the roots of a discussion before throwing out useless, uninformed accusations of this kind.

          Like

          • GF you sound sour as no body is addressing the root, but just TRYING TO SHOOT THE MESSENGER . Why did i have to bother myself with all this, because i love this blog and want it to be a place full of diversity offering different perspectives, But if continued in the same way as is the case presently, i fear only clique of Bachchans would be left to revel in the glory of their FAVOURITE.

            Like

          • I’m not at all sour, but if you and anyone else are truly interested in shouldering the responsibility of this blog, it makes sense to understand these discussions as they began and as they continue. Satyam will of course discuss his interests and this whole thing began when he introduced Shahenshah (in a plausible way, if anyone took the time to actually read it without seeing red) and then all sorts of crazy, anal accusations blew up. Then of course we have guys like you chime in out of nowhere to talk about how this site is about nothing but Bachchan-prop. It’s actually an insult to those of us in the blog that do take the time to discuss other things. And not just other stars but other subjects, other films, other languages. But for a lot of folks everything is reducible to the inane, tedious discussion of agendas and star-love. All of this is a two-way street, and if one doesn’t want a discussion to veer a certain way, it’s entirely in that person’s power to steer it the way he or she sees fit. Talk about what you want to talk about, and stop turning every discussion into a dissing (or a pissing) contest. In short, grow up.

            Like

          • mksrooney Says:

            “Then of course we have guys like you chime in out of nowhere to talk about how this site is about nothing but Bachchan-prop. It’s actually an insult to those of us in the blog that do take the time to discuss other things. ”

            couldnt agree more.

            Like

  25. OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

    MyselfAamir,
    “Let’s stop looking from tinted glasses of “MY OR YOUR HERO” and go beyond this lunacy of unnecessary justifications and excuses on their behalf”
    I cracked up at mention of Bradman.

    Like

  26. OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

    rajen,
    ur jokes are in bad taste..

    Like

  27. @ GF you sound more sour with me alleging of barging in the discussion as if i had to take your permission before commenting. I will comment whenever i feel so with out being derogative or abusive and your “chime in” makes no sense at all.

    Like

    • I don’t mind sounding sour if that’s how you’re reading it. Better sour than disingenuous….

      Like

      • i would better be disingenuous than being mule, as is the case with you. You would keep on dwelling upon your POV as relevant and your stance as necessary so will i with mine. Open your mind and then mull over, then comment. i vouch you would relish the experience!

        Like

  28. Okay, we have had enough accusations and assertions but no solid argument yet.
    Lets see what is at stake here
    1. Is Rajini the biggest Indian star ever?
    2. Is Endhiran/Robot/Robo a big hit and as some would like to claim the biggest hit ever?

    As far as the first point of contention goes, I would like to ask Rajini fans what is the argument based on. The most number of hits, highest cumulative gross, longevity of career,highest number of fans? Give me something tangible with some way of verifying.

    As far as the second point goes, if one accepts Shankar’s assertion that it has a budget of 150-175 crores, at what point and how does the film become profitable ? AND WHAT KIND OF RETURN ON INVETMENT WOULD MAKE IT THE BIGEST HIT EVER? MNIK has probably the second or third highest overall collections ever. Does it make it the second biggest hit ever?

    Lets hear some arguments from Rajini fans instead of assertions and cries of foul play or hiding behind the excuse of not wanting to dignify the comments with cogent arguments. Till then, it is all
    Rajini fan talk.

    Like

  29. BTW, tihs article has been posted by someone else on the ‘other’ website as ‘GF on Endhiran’!

    Like

  30. Rajnikanth is the highest paid star in Asia, second only to Jackie Chan. No one else from Bollywood is even in the same ballpark. How is that for an argument? Nothing talks like money, right.

    Not to belittle Amitabh but cultural differences or not, the fact remains that he doesn’t induce (or anybody else for that matter) the kind of craze Rajni does.

    Also, I think a point can be made without racist humor that frankly is not even funny. But then again, if you are trying to push buttons, you are doing a good job.

    Like

    • I think Amitabh use to generate similar hysteria on all India basis till 1990 (I remember when Shahenshah was releasing one guy was killed in stampede to get FDFS tickets in Pune). But Amitabh lost his lusture after that. Is he capable of doing at this age. No.
      It is commendable that Rajinikanth can generate such an hysteria at age 60. In US, I have heard from friends that when Sivaji movie was playing people who were watching Hindi movie just went to check what was is this noise emanating from other hall. People were literally dancing near the screen and throwing probably $ bills. Most of the people were standing on seats 🙂 . I guess most of them were educated software Engineers 😀 .
      But then an argument can be made that even Ravi kissen’s movie generate similar hysteria in Bihar. So in That sense Amitabh appeal in his heyday in terms of reach is unparalleled.

      Like

      • Re: ‘educated software Engineers ‘

        Is this your attempt at an Oxymoron?
        If so, it is pretty good.-).

        Like

      • great comment.. I would say it continued through 1992. Hum is a great example. Even after he returned he was getting initials. Even post-Mohabbatein a number of his films even with different subjects had very good opening weekends. Aks is a great example. But then he let it all dissipate.

        People forget that any star, much less a superstar, is always one to the extent that he plays ‘signature’. When you abandon this for good or bad reasons you destroy in a sense that ‘compact’ with the audience. But here’s I think one definition of Bachchan’s unique stardom — he’s the only megastar who could survive his own deconstruction and even destruction. Which is to say Bachchan has prospered quite a bit even after walking away from everything that made him such a revolution. Don’t think I could say that about any other Indian star. And even at this stage he could have been more of a box office force than he is had he chosen wisely, far more wisely!

        Consider this: here’s a guy who’s more or less lived with very questionable choices for the most post for 20 years now if not more. Either leads in very poor films or roles with lesser footage in good or bad works. The man can still get it going with all kinds of directors in all kinds of parts. The box office glory of course cannot return in these circumstances but his twilight is still brighter (as I’ve said more than once on his blog) than the morning sun of most careers!

        It’s not that I would ever argue that Bachchan can get massive initials today, no matter what the project. It’s too late for this. And as most know I have been the greatest critic of his last 20 years, even on his very blog. But to frame things the way they have been the last few days with the Rajni comparison and so on completely misses the point. Rajni has done 4 films in the last 11 years! The last two with Shankar! Bachchan has done countless stuff in the same period and a lot of it supremely forgettable. Even with poor judgment he’s done a lot that’s incredible too. But in any case there can be no comparison in terms of volume. And by the way we saw what happened with Kuselan in Tamil (the Taamil version of Billu Barber) where Rajnikant had reasonable footage to draw in the crowds. The film was a huge flop. Well Bachchan regrettably has many Kuselan like moments over the last 20 years or in Rajnikant terms he also has many Baba moments and he has tons more films of all kinds! Even God’s box office would be affected!

        Like

        • satyam you forget one thing. Rajini did four films in 11 years. two of them flopped. if he was any lesser star people would have forgotton him.Nobody will be waiting for his next release with such eagerness. It is important for stars to hog on to the limelight. Inspite of this he generates such craze. It is no mean thing.As for two of them being shankar films i sincierly think sivaji & enthiran lacked finesse of cinema. they are definitely not anything close to the best of tamil cinema. enthiran definitely had its moments but not complete. we sincierly appreciate his efforts in breaking the path in various aspects but still many more steps to be taken which will be achieved in due course.As for rajini whichever person directs him next dosnt matter. It will be a monster.(btw why do you term his hits as monsters as if they are something evil)

          Like

          • actually only 1 flopped — Baba (excluding Kuselan).. the others were Chandramukhi and two Shankar mega productions. All hits. The first was a remake of a Malayalam hit which has since been a hit in Hindi also. On Enthiran I certainly think it’s an extremely well made film.

            again this whole back and forth is getting tiresome.. factually no one is arguing that Rajni (for a variety of reasons) can still produce these massive initials and grosses. But I have never been simply interested in facts without contexts.

            Like

  31. Henry,
    A decent argument.
    BTW, bringing up Jackie Chan is doing a disservice to Rajini.That guy is a freakin joker.
    Agree his remuneration per film is probably amongst the highest, if not the highest. There have been stories of Akki/Salman being paid that kind of money but not sure how true they are. But, if one waants to make that argument, is he the highest earning film star? or the highest personal income tax payer? Will he command the same price and frenzy if he were not doing just once film every few years? In a way that strategy has worked for him as it has allowed him to escape brand dilution which Bachcan has been acccused to be guilty of. But, does it make him the biggest star? I dont know.

    Like

    • mksrooney Says:

      rajen did u seriously meant jackie chan as joker, than indeed i take offence man.. what he does, and his art is seriously incredible, his movies are mainly for kids, and family entertainment.

      ps- i prefer jet li to jackie chan after i became adult, pre that it was jackie chan as a kid.. and he does his job well, like a masala movie. if we can njoy masala movie why not jackies kiddish movie, and his stunts. atleast he does most of his stunt himself until lately

      Like

      • Rooney,
        He was OK before. Now, he just does comedy which is getting tiring.

        Like

        • (sorry had missed this response, had a friends wedding, my first punjabi wedding and life went crazy!)

          yup that i understand, his movie wont age well, like some of his gems from previous time, but indeed i feel that his movies have always been for kids moreso and not adults.

          have u seen his work in Karate Kid, u would see how he could do great given a role and script, not defending just observing as i too regret his comedies sometimes, but joker wont be term i did use. btw wats ur take on Jet Li?

          Like

  32. LOL, the silence is defeaning!
    And, needless to say,conclusive.

    Like

  33. Endhiran, The Robot and The Holy Bible

    Disclaimer:
    This post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, and do not wish to know the events in the plot (or story), then please do not read any further.

    Wow! That was my immediate impression of the movie, as I came out of the movie hall. Many thanks to the director, the producer, the technicians and most importantly Rajni for such a wonderful experience.

    As I read through the reviews from Indian media and world media, I found that almost everyone articulate the same experience. Some even compared the director, Shankar to none less than James Cameron. Interesting, but I do agree with such an outlook.

    While one of the themes of James Cameron’s Avatar is about Hinduism, I found Shankar’s Endhiran The Robot, seems to resonate the Holy Bible.

    First, the very theme that the scientist creating someone like him, for fellowship with Himself and with the purpose of serving the creator, seems to overly bound of the Biblical theme that the God created us for fellowship with Himself (Genesis 1:29, “…Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”), and the purpose of our life to server our creator.

    If you doubt about the God and the created, look at the scene early in the movie when Chitti, the Robot was presented at the science conference.

    At the question time, a person from the audience asks Chitti, “Do you believe in God?”
    The innocent robot asks, “What is God?”
    The person replies, “The One who created us.”
    Realizing that the scientist, Dr Vasigaran created the Robot, it quickly replies, “I was created (by Dr Vasigaran), so there is God. Dr Vasigaran is my God”

    Second, is the whole subject of Good and Evil, seems more Biblical. Sure that subject is Universal, however how close are those texts than to the Holy Bible, when you put the whole phenomenon with Demon, and Demon-possessed. The evil Red-Chip seems to be analogous to Demon, and the Chitti, the Robot, becomes Demon-possessed by the Evil master. The Savior imploring the Demon seems to overly Dr Vasigaran removing the Red-Chip from Demon-Possessed Chitti.

    Also, Mark 5:2 “…a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit”, seems to refer to dismantled Chitti in the dump yard.

    Third, at the end the voice of Chitti says it was annihilated because it began to think. Many wonder, how thinking can lead to Death. Scroll to the pages of Genesis for the event in Garden of Eden, you will find the answer. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…”, and the consequence of doing so, “…you will surely die.”

    Fourth, Sana, is the metaphor for the Earth, the former Miss World fits the metaphor better than anyone else. Remember, Chitti, says that the two best creations of Man are Sana and himself. So, turn around, for Chitti, Man is God, and that God created Heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1). Chitti, now Demon-possessed cannot think about heaven, but the lust drives it towards Sana (metaphoric for God other beautiful creation The Earth). God loves the Earth, and the Earth loves the God, but the Evil (unclean spirited) want to possess the Earth. I hope you are catching the drift.

    Fifth, anyone noticed Dr Vasigaran’s beard and mustache. Aren’t they Comparable to that of Jesus Christ? Also why Rajni (Dr Vasigaran) had a subtle introduction, unlike his other movies why there isn’t any rich, colorful celebrative introduction song? Is that comparable to the humble beginning (birth) of Jesus Christ?

    There seems to be similar instances, which shows outstanding substantiation that one of the themes of Endhiran, The Robot, resonates the Holy Bible.

    Of course the message of the movie, also aptly summarized by Chitti when it dismantles itself, the sins attributed by man due to lust, jealously, anger, and many more non-virtuous characters. Though this message also seems to be universal, the Court, the judgment day, annihilation of evil spirited (Chitti) seems more close to Holy Bible than any other text.

    Whether these instances (that seems to resonate the Holy Bible a lot) are coincidental or deliberate is something beyond my scope. In any case, I do enjoy those in the movie. It will captivate International audience, with its revelation, aided with technology; it takes the ever engaging message in to 21st Century.

    http://gkumaran.blogspot.com/2010/10/endhiran-robot-and-holy-bible_10.html

    Like

  34. Outlook:

    Film: Rajni mania
    Flip That Ciggie
    Late nights with the Rajni army
    Sadanand Menon

    Enthiran. Day one. Late night show. An impossible to attain ticket procured after hopping through a warren of dens. Fan clubs have bulk-blocked theatres for almost the next two weeks. Inside the packed auditorium full of die-hard fans in auto-erotic animation, Rajni signals his arrival through digital fracture.

    Ra-ja-ni. His name punches the screen alphabet by alphabet. Phatak-phatak-phatak. The alphabets form digitally in the morphology of monolithic architecture. Then the full name repeats in a final smashing crescendo. The acolytes are on their feet, arms extended towards the Holy Name. A collective baying engulfs the hall, drowning the high-decibel ambitions of the Dolby system. By now, the Rajni raanuvam (army) is jumping in the aisles in the most vivid display of premature ejaculation ever in public. The sighting of the messiah is imminent and the flock is in a state of self-hypnotised hysteria. Rajni reigns.

    However, the audience reaction at the beginning and the end of this Rajnikanth blockbuster is a study in contrast. The audience enters the hall on the crest of a hype that has been sustained over months. At last, on this auspicious Friday, the serious Rajni fan has been active since 3 a.m., decorating the entrances to theatres with flags, festoons and cutouts, performing honey and milk abhishekams on their idol and dancing in the streets. So, when the fans eventually enter the hall on high adrenalin, it makes no difference to them what the film is. Their ecstasy derives from the fact that the deity who was remote and distant in his garbha griha is now manifest as an utsav murti, come out in their midst in a new avatar. It’s celebration time.

    All the euphoria explodes in the opening reel, to be followed by inevitable ennui and the ‘downer’ affliction. While the screening begins to an infernal din of whistles, cat-calls, ululations and primal shrieks, it ends in eerie silence. Fans shuffle out of the auditoria, littered with plastic and paper garbage, themselves turned into cultural refuse—silent, muted, slouched. For over two-and-half hours they have been assaulted, attacked, pulverised by an ‘artificial-intelligence’ movie that seems to constantly resist the temptation to slip into becoming really intelligent.

    The film is a simple gig in two parts. In one part we have a futurist scientist, played by Rajnikanth, who ends up creating a humanoid, an arti-fact, a metallic sarcophagus, and proceeds to invest it with his own physical identity. Here, however, we have a product of advanced cybernetics that still does not escape the master-slave binary. This lookalike ‘non-human’ can perform superhuman feats of strength, endurance and memory. Strangely, however, it does not boast a machine’s gender-free quality and seems to have an inbuilt phallocentrism. Not yet infected with the ‘flower of evil’, it remains attractive and yet ‘safe’ to the opposite gender. It paves the way for the peculiar irony of the scientist’s girlfriend Sana feeling ‘safer’ in the company of the robot (more Rajnikanth).

    But, though this advanced cyborg lacks a primate’s digestive or copulative organ, it begins to acquire ‘feeling’. We realise that the mirror-image sameness only pretends to a difference. The human and the android are equally macho and very soon, like the human, the android too begins to experience ‘male lack’ as its whole body digital scan system locks into the luscious image of Sana.

    This paves the way for the second part of the movie, as a corrupting virus, the ‘Red Chip’, is deliberately inserted into Robot’s central drive by a rival scientist. All hell breaks loose as the programme mutates from ‘Robo-Cop’ to ‘Terminator’. This metal-trap that has inexplicably acquired ‘desire’ turns savagely upon its own creator. Blinded by fury at being spurned by the woman he ‘loves’, Robot turns Rakshasa and, much like Ravana, abducts the heroine to his cordon sanitaire. Only, this Ashokavatika is some super shopping mall.

    Recklessly mixing metaphors, writer/director Shankar dips into the fable of Jason and the Argonauts. The robot begins to clone himself in autotelic abundance—a Rajni army of infinite Rajnis. It’s like some consumer excess to the power of ‘z’. There is such a surfeit of Rajnis on the screen that no one will ask for another Rajni film for a few years.

    Employing the device of the self-duplicating Rajni machine, the hitherto alienating-yet-plausible-pseudo-scientific gimmicology tips into top gear. What the scientist had originally planned as a one-body war-machine to decimate “India’s enemies” performs a self-fulfilling fantasy as it takes on the collective might of the Indian army, air force and all other comers. Finally, the robot’s creator finds a way to trap him and disarm the Red Chip. With his ‘chips’ down, Rajni Robot is happy to collaborate with the state. Thalaiva, we preferred you as the eternal ‘outsider’ who proved it by simply flipping a cigarette in his mouth. This high-tech robs you of your aura.

    The piled-on techno fads, one more breathless than the other, are psychologically traumatic. You can visibly experience the Castration Complex at work—a sense of emasculatory helplessness in the audience. Fans who came for a joint celebration of shared power sense their agency being appropriated by the merely technical. Which accounts for the dazed silence as the movie concludes. What remains is the overarching human stench in the auditorium.

    Like

  35. Well deserved

    Director Shankar is CNN-IBN Indian of the Year in Entertainment Category beating Rajni & Aamir http://bit.ly/i5GwJp #Robot #Enthiran

    Like

  36. This Endhiran action video has gotten a lot of coverage from the Western press. Today popped up on Entertainment Weekly

    http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/01/27/most-outrageous-action-movie-ever/

    Like

    • Deservedly in my view! Enthiran to my mind was an extraordinary achievement, not least on this score and I’ll repeat once more that Shankar with a Hollywood budget would be better than most Hollywood directors at action. Also think he’d have a career in animation as that really wacky, really zany mosquito sequence reveals!

      Like

    • This video has been on several sites in the last couple days – SlashFilms, The DailyWhat, Redditt, etc.

      Like

  37. agree with everything except the music … they were a torture…..also i wish rajneekant had dubbed for it in Hindi ..

    Like

  38. Just got around to seeing the movie and loved it. I do think perhaps the Tamil version is the better one and the songs sound much better. Rajni’s voice is very much a part of his persona and the dubbed Hindi versions really don’t feel the same

    Like

    • Latha – so you had seen the Tamil version before and Now you got around seeing the Hindi version ?

      Like

      • No-I haven’t seen the Hindi version but having seen both Hindi and the Tamil versions of Sivaji- I realised the difference dubbing made! Also I didn’t think much of the songs in Robot but surprisingly in Enthiran they were much better. I saw Raavan and Raavanan back to back and needless to say found the Tamil version much better.

        Like

  39. On an aside , recollect reading that as Ash is proficient in Tamil , she dubbed for both Enthiran and Raavanan- false as her voice is dubbed in both movies and by different persons. While Enthiran was tolerable the lady dubbing for Ash in Raavanan has done a bad job

    Like

  40. I am interested in seeing this film but I wanted to show this trailer to people who are not familiar with it because it shows how people who are supporting this film as some kind of more intelligent masala entertainment seem sadly beside the mark! I have nothing against more crass entertainment (enjoyed Rowdy a great deal recently) and I certainly celebrate some of the inventiveness and energy that even more over the top Southern masala often displays. And again this is a film I do want to see. However let’s not get carried away and start defining this as some new frontier in Indian entertainment or something! The animation here is pretty terrible! Otherwise it looks like business as usual for Rajamouli.

    On the other hand check out this remarkably well done mosquito sequence from Enthiran, which I’ve commented on earlier as well:

    the animation is way better and the video here still doesn’t represent how impressive this scene was in the theater. and of course it’s a truly zany moment in the movie.

    All of this is not to argue against Eega (the animation could have been better though it’s fair to say that not everyone has Shankar’s budget) but more importantly it’s hard to believe that something stunningly path-breaking is happening here as some have celebrated it (both Kashyap and Taran have been going crazy over it). I haven’t seen the film so I accept that there is probably an interesting idea here and so on, I am also willing to accept it’s a great entertainer. But does one really need to get so carried away to praise it?! All of this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Rajamouli’s work. I didn’t like Magadheera (barring a dazzling video and some of the ‘historical’ portions) but I enjoyed Yamadonga (mostly for NTR Jr). Also enjoyed Rowdy (haven’t seen the original). Might check out his Maryada Ramanna (Son of Sardar original) at some point. But his is pretty lowbrow filmmaking to put it kindly! I have often celebrated the fact that some Southern filmmakers, especially in the wake of Shankar, have been able to combine a certain mass aesthetic with more ‘contemporary’ concerns and trends ranging from the political to the aesthetic (in the Hollywood sense of the word). This is not a bad model in certain ways as it’s at least not just about an emptier masala which reproduces the gestures without the ‘soul’. Nonetheless this isn’t somehow that new entertainment frontier that’s going to take Indian cinema as a whole forward. Gimme a break!

    Now what it is I think much more legitimate to expect here is whether Rajamouli can match Shankar at his best. So far I haven’t seen any indication that this might be the case but I’m willing to believe Eega could be such a film. But again my much larger point is the kind of unthinking praise that often goes into these things from just about all sides. In certain quarters of course all this sudden conversion to Eega definitely carried a whiff of the anti-Bol Bachchan thing! It’s certainly fine to oppose the latter but this can be done directly.

    Like

    • Taran though was right in pointing out that this has been a Rajamouli year in Hindi cinema. Rowdy was a remake of his film and Son of Sardar is the same!

      Like

    • On the subject of flies and other bugs some related comments from Bachchan’s blog:

      [And while on the subject of Lawaaris I might as well highlight another remarkable sequence. The point where Heera starts eating dog biscuits and rather cheerfully allying himself with this species and against humans. It’s a small lighter moment in the film but it seems singular to me. Cannot think of another megastar who could have been imaginable in such a sequence. ”

      To add to this I have always found this to be a rather subversive sequence. There isn’t another character in your canon who is quite as bruised (with the possible exception of Agneepath). Or who seems as much ‘out of the depths’ as Heera. and here in this comic moment he suggests there is no real difference between humans and dogs and proceeds to happily munch on the biscuit. What is remarkable about Heera is that he finds even this gesture ‘ennobling’. It is not that he has fallen to the level of a dog but that he believes most humans are not even at this level and hence one must perhaps aspire to rise to the level of this canine species! This whole strand (which includes of course moments with an actual dog in the frame) is paralleled in the film by that other, by now legendary dog sequence, where Heera colludes with Zeenat Aman’s dog to create all kinds of havoc. He always seems very comfortable interacting with this species. Much as there is always the ‘abyss’ yawning around Heera. Sooner or later he gets back to the harsh imagery that his destitute childhood has nurtured in him. And so when he confronts once again the Zeenat Aman character in the ‘cavern’ if you will with those monuments of culture surrounding them he playacts a very unpleasant possibility of rape and genealogical ‘illegitimacy’. He is making a point but there’s too much ‘truth’ in it and again it’s all prefaced with his comparing himself to an insect (yes those insects are so important in the angry young man’s career too.. I’ve said something about this before a well but who else has such canonical moments involving ‘commerce’ with cockroaches and flies?!).]

      [It has been quite remarkable to read these last two posts of yours. The whole subject treated with such comprehensiveness. I suddenly see after all all these years how you could have engaged so well with the cockroaches (Kasme Vaade & Hum) and the fly (Namak Halal)! There perhaps should have been a scene with you and a mouse! But have you ever dealt with a cat in one of your movies? I can’t recall anything. Dogs yes but can’t think of something with a cat. Not counting of course the two big cats you’ve wrestled with (Natwarlal & Khoon Pasina)!]

      and since this is an Enthiran post let me add another older comment here:

      [incidentally one day someone should write something about insects in Indian cinema! Enthiran should occupy pride of place! Then there are also Bachchan’s own encounters with cockroaches and flies (Kasme Vaade, Namak Halal, a reprise of the first in Hum). And of course Rajni did a Namak halal remake too. I’m sure there are other examples elsewhere with other stars. But the Enthiran sequence is one of a kind.]

      [Actually Dharmathin Thalaivan is a remake of Bachchan’s Kasme Vaade (1978) which is where the cockroach scene first appeared.]

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s