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What is huge and awesome is not cute and likeable, most often! This is an unwritten rule that has been seldom challenged. There have been many big films over the decades; larger than life themes, great action, pertinent messages etc. They were all admired and were successful. But, those are perhaps not the ones which stand closest to our heart and warm our feelings. We may be great admirers of Nayagan, Hey Ram, Virumaandi and Devar Magan. But, it is the small and touching story of Nallasivam that we like to see again and again and again. You might have loved Thalapathi, Basha, Moonru Mugam, Padaiyappa and a whole lot of such films; but Thillu Mullu would still hold a special place in your heart. Amitabh Bachchan fans world wide would talk about Sholay, deewar, Shahenshah and Khudaa Gawah, but Yaraana is still very special. And, there are people who still remember Arnold for Kindergarten Cop rather than Terminator.

There is a modern day saying, ‘You admire people for their strengths, but love them for their weaknesses’. That is not to say that we have to start loving movies with weak stories and performances. But, when characters get closer to real life, show frailties that we as people have within us, then the connection towards the character and consequently the movie grows
stronger. We have come through a few decades of cinema where certain conventions have stopped our lead actors from appearing as normal human characters in their movies like – ‘a hero’s hairstyle cannot get ruffled, let alone be beaten up by others’, ‘a hero must never cry, only show the flames of revenge in his eyes’, ‘must never feel jealous (and also appear supremely confident) even when his girlfriend is chatting away with someone else’ and ‘must never take help from anyone else to finish off the villains’.

Such rules might look like rubbish now, especially after the past two years have repeatedly shown that there is no golden rule that has to be applied when characterizing heroes. But, there is no room for complacency because (as a few releases this year showed) the roots of this tendency still hold strong in some parts of the industry.

Endhiran might just spell the end of that era where heroes had to be ‘Gods on screen’; it might be the final nail in the coffin and who better to hammer it in than Superstar himself. What is it about Endhiran that might stop the ‘demigodism’ on screen? The way Rajinikanth and Shankar agreed to portray the character of Vaseegaran.

We have lived through an era where all of Rajinikanth’s characters, at least from the 90s had to embellished, spruced, seasoned and minced with heroism, punch dialogues and political overtones for his fans to rejoice. In one big sweep, Shankar and Rajinikanth decided to do away with all of that; no half measures here and no room for doubt. The indications that this is going to be a one of its kind (and a very different) Superstar experience come right from the start of the film; the most sedate Rajinikanth intro since one can remember. Actually, it is not an intro at all; a calm and steady camera approaching Rajinikanth from behind; no drum rolls, no trumpets and most importantly ‘no intro song’.

How will a scientist behave in real life? That too a geeky, almost nerdy guy who spends months together in the lab ignoring calls, mails, SMSs and visits from his girlfriend. He is obviously not going to be the ‘Price Charming’, nor is he going to be super-confident about his wooing skills. And this too is portrayed as such in the film, with Vaseegaran feeling jealous and insecure each time his girlfriend praises his robot, dances with him and calls him a ‘Superhero’. This scientist will also not be an action hero who can take down even one man at a time. And, true to this ‘geeky and nerdy’ perception of all scientists, Vaseegaran too has to resort to a rather desperate trick (watch the movie) to save his girlfriend from a ruffian. These things make Enthiran relatable and likeable on a level and one feels that beyond being a grand spectacle, it might end up as a movie close to our hearts as well.

Vaseegaran, in spite of being played by the Superstar is a character that is absolutely real, with all the weaknesses and flaws that a normal human being would have. To forego the biggest crowd pulling Superstar elements like ‘heroism’ and punch dialogues’ in a 150 crore movie is a decision that requires great courage. But, the courage has paid off. Superstar and Shankar have shown that there is nothing called an ‘image’ for an actor. If Superstar, with 30 years of supreme stardom and fan following can break the mould, then everyone can. Tamil cinema’s era of the infallible hero may just have ended!
Tags : Endhiran, Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai, Shankar, SUN Pictures, AR Rahman
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