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Review by : Behindwoods review board
Starring: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai, Karunas, Santhanam.
Direction: Shankar
Music: AR Rahman
Production: Sun Pictures

With a bevy of machine guns in hand; all triggers locked, Superstar delivers a resounding punch line; ‘Happy Diwali folks’. Yes, it was Diwali alright, minutes before the start of the first show here in Chennai with crackers going off in thousands, flowers flying around and people going
delirious with excitement. This is Diwali; no matter even if the real one is still a month away, Superstar has arrived! The same dilemma that haunted while writing the Sivaji review returns again; because it is so easy to go overboard while writing about Superstar.

Well, let us get down to the task. There is nothing much to reveal about the plot of Enthiran; one supposes. Thousands of speculations, predictions and of course, a mad frenzy about the trailer has given a rough idea about the plot. Enthiran is about Dr. Vaseegaran and Chitty, his creation- the robot with a 1 Zettabyte memory and a speed of 1 Terrabyte. Chitty is envisioned by Vaseegaran a humanoid that can serve intelligently and efficiently in the defence forces. But, for that he needs to prove the worth of his creation in front of a panel headed by Professor Bora, Vaseegaran’s mentor. Chitty is found to lack in discretion and is consequently rejected. But, there is more to the rejection than lack of merit in Chitty. A Professor’s ego stands in the way of his protégé’s success and he gives a blunt reason – ‘Science must not suffer’. But, Vaseegaran is not ready to give up. He goes back to the drawing board, training Chitty to be more humane, teaching him discretion, feeding him with emotions – anger, passion, discretion and life, death and more. Chitty is a now a person, no longer a machine. He can feel the grass he walks, the air that ruffles his hair, the soft touch of Sana. But, Chitty has evolved more than Vaseegaran has imagined or desired. A heart starts pumping in the metallic body (‘Irumbhile oru idhayam’) and no prizes for guessing the object of affection – Sana. There starts the rift between the creator and his creation. With rift comes an opportunity for a third person. A powerful creation in the wrong hands, with the wrong intentions – there is only one thing that can happen; total destruction. Chitty is now a Terminator in the literal sense; killing at will. How can he be stopped? Does Vaseegaran hold the key? Watch Enthiran for the experience.

The foremost thing about any Superstar film is Superstar himself. He is the air the film breathes, right from the first frame. Watching Enthiran one feels no doubt whatsoever that no one other than Rajinikanth could have pulled off this character. It is destiny that brought Enthiran to Superstar after travelling all through Kollywood and Bollywood. He delivers a tour de force performance – he owns the film. Be it as the workaholic scientist, the obedient Chitty or the destructive Chitty (‘upgraded version – Chitty 2.0’), he scores; exuding brilliance and charisma in every frame. Yes, there are the trademark styles and mannerisms, but Rajinikanth transcends style and goes one better with Enthiran. His restraint while playing the scientist, the frustration that he shows while his scientific endeavours go wrong, underscore the fact that he is a brilliant actor who has been bogged down by commercial demands and compulsions. But, the focal point of the performance is definitely the robot. Chitty, the innocent child like robot is cute and loveable and dashing, once romance starts flowing through his veins – wires. And, it is when the destroyer arrives that we see the Rajini in all his splendour. One wonders where the villain in Rajini was all these years. There seems to be absolutely no one who can come even close when playing a devilish destroyer. The outrageous and maniacal laugh as he proclaims his invincibility is a masterpiece – a throwback to the heydays of Rajinikanth the villain. The decades have not dimmed his brilliance and charisma one bit. And, the effort he has put into Endhiran shows in all frames; be it the fights or dance sequences; the desire to excel still burns bright. Aishwarya Rai looks ethereal as always. Though it is a bit difficult to still accept her as a college student, she delivers when it matters. Not the usual Shankar heroine (songs and dance only stuff) here, she is almost the fulcrum of the story.

Scripting wise, Enthiran does have its flaws, which is a bit disappointing. The first half is a smooth and jolly ride as the cute Chitty takes centre stage. A couple of fights set the tone for the fans to go overboard with excitement, a few lighter moment most of which are enjoyable and two songs make it a relatively light hearted affair. Shankar’s ability to write commercial Tamil cinema elements (hero rescuing damsel in distress, witty one liners etc.) into a sci-fi script is commendable. That stops Endthiran from being a pure sci-fi flick, making it apt for all class audiences. The second half is however not an apt extrapolation of the expectations raised in the first half. Though too much does not go wrong, there are portions which one feels could have been tighter. Some sequences, especially the ‘Ranguski’ part, are dragged along for more than a reasonable length. A couple of songs follow each other in quick succession which dampens things a bit. But, if you are willing to be patient through these minor glitches, the rest of the second half is racy, action packed and intelligent.

Action, as all might now, has been the talking point of Enthiran with world famous visual effects supervisors doing the job. The sequences have been conceived by Shankar (as shown in the titles) and do not lack in awe and magnificence. Be it on the train, on the truck or the highway – action is taken to a new plane in Enthiran. As expected, logic does fly out of the window now and then, but then, what is a Superstar film if there is no suspension of belief.

As expected, technical aspects of Enthiran are top notch. Special effects are world class (except a few occasions here and there) as they have been done by the best in the business. Camera captures what Shankar has envisioned, one believes, but does fall a bit short in capturing the beauty of magnificent locations chosen for songs. Make up is exceptional and has made Superstar look even more stylish than he usually does. Re-recording does not look like the work done by an Oscar winning technician, especially in the final portions, but still manages to impress. Rahman’s music which is already a rage sits well on the film, but this is definitely not his best work. Dialogues by Shankar, Sujatha and Karki are sharp, using proper technical terminology well balanced with Tamil lines.

Hats off to Shankar for the vision and the effort. He has taken Tamil cinema to a new plane on technical terms, showing that nothing is impossible. The sets, effects, sound, style are all amazing and good enough to rub shoulders with Hollywood counterparts, give or take a few points. But, the basic story is still a desi love triangle! That is where Shankar has shown his skills; making state-of-the-art film merge with our regional cinema tastes.

The one thing about Enthiran that might disappoint fans is the rather sedate introduction and the absence of the sacred intro-song very typical of Rajni films. But, there is no other way in which this film could have been done.

Overall, Enthiran is a ‘robotic, hypnotic, supersonic, Superstar’ experience, the first of its kind in Tamil cinema and the only one of its kind for a long time to come. It is going to take a Herculean effort to equal or better Enthiran within the confines of Tamil cinema. Lets hope the day comes soon. For now, an ovation to the Enthiran team for making a dream come true!.

Verdict: Tamil cinema’s pinnacle of evolution – ‘Robot sapiens’

Tags : Enthiran, Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai, Shankar, AR Rahman, Santhanam, Karunas, Sun Pictures, R Rathnavelu
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