Before I start with the review, let me tell you upfront that we have been duped, major time, by Shankar and the studio marketers with the whole hype before the movie was released.
I keep asking myself – is this the movie that Shankar been thinking for the last 10 years of doing? It was simply dumb and illogical.
The movie that now holds the title as the most expensive Indian movie to be made (approximately USD40 million) and unbelievably the second highest-grossing Indian movie of all time (thank God, 3 Idiots are still holding the top place to save grace).
My son has been asking me to take him to see the movie even before the movie was released in Malaysia (he have seen the trailers and he knows who is Rajini). I told him to do well in the exams and I promised to take him to see the movie (I would have taken him no matter what the exam results were but I wanted to buy time and I had to fly overseas for some work).
So when I came back, he reminded me (and he got good marks in the exam) and I immediately book our seats on an almost empty cinema hall. The good thing was I went to see it after the ticket price got cheaper and I did not have to tussle with others for a good seat.
So, let me quickly tell you upfront what is good about this movie:-
1. Art and background during song scenes – the best is for the movie, Kilimanjaro. Good use of the Mayan era costumes and beautiful dancers. The picturisation of the opening song, Kadhal Anukal is also good – deserts with crystal blue patches of water (damn, where did they find these places?).
2. Music – As usual, I hated AR Rahman’s music at the beginning but listen to it a couple of times, it ends as your top of list music for your MP3 player. There are plenty of techno like and scientific kind of lyrics to put the music closer to the theme of the movie.
You need patience and time to listen to AR Rahman music, otherwise, you will hate them the first time you listen to it. My top pick – Kadhal Anukal, Kilimanjaro and Arima Arima (good use of marching drums and Ash looks stunning in pink).
3. CGI – Seeing many “Mat Salleh” names on the opening credit was not a big surprise. Hollywood technicians are at a class of their own with CGIs and SFXs. The last fight by Chitti 2.0 was a good, a bit overdone but refreshing one (why didn’t those robots in Will Smith’s I, Robot did not think of that when wanted to defend themselves from the human).
4. Ash & Rajini – a colleague of mine said that it is like the “Beauty and the Beast” but seeing it in the cinema and despite Rajini is old and Ash is an ex-Miss World, there is a certain chemistry between the two. Rajini (thanks to skilled makeup artists) looks young and good.
Ash is able to conquer the scenes with her own beauty. Rajini acted well for both the parts of Dr Vaseegaran and Chitti – no wonder he is called the Super Star. Chitti 2.0 is the best character in the whole movie.
5. The fight scene in the train – with such a confined area and too many “baddies”, stunt masters Peter Hein, Yuen Woo-Ping and Alex Martin pulled it off rather beautifully. It reminded me of the epic fight between Neo and many of the rouge formerly known as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy.
(Chitti 2.0 is evil but it was my favourite – Rajini acted the character almost flawlessly. Image source: Huffington Post)
The Bad & Ugly
End of good things, now, let’s talk about the bad things of this movie:-
1. The logic of storyline – The biggest letdown in Shankar’s Enthiran and it shows bare-chested after the second half of the movie (as if Shankar spent all those years – 10 years – only thinking about the first half, got lost thinking about the second half and decided to fall back to the typical Bollywood kind of storytelling).
In fact, IMDB quote “however, in October 2007, Khan commented that the script was “half-baked” and “dull” in comparison to his other films at the time” and one review website said “Shankar’s obsession with visual creativity overtakes logic and reason to the point that towards the end, the extravaganza on screen totally stops making sense” whilst another says “the climax is definitely a sure-fire way to lose your sanity”.
Let me illustrate a couple of examples:-
a. When Chitti kidnaps Sana and that got the whole of TPD (yeah, the Tamil Police Department) coming after them with all its might. I was surprised when I noticed that the TPD starts shooting at the car that Chitti and Sana are in. Countless of bullet holes on the car (and it is a convertible and is not a bulletproof car) and nothing happens to Sana (forget about Chitti, he may have internal body armour but Sana?).
b. When a clone of Chitti hijacks an oil tanker and is running away from TPD, the commander will ask the rest to fall back, stating that it will be dealt with by the Coast Guard. At that point, I had expected a heavily armoured gunship to appear at the scene but once again, Shankar decided to make a fool of himself – a lonely civilian helicopter with a missile launched (hello friend, I don’t see any missile launcher on the helicopter!)
c. One man show – the hero and the villain who work on their respective robot projects are doing on their own (never mind the 2 idiotic assistants that Dr Vaseegaran has in his lab – they look more like the tea boy and the toilet washer to me).
Now compare to the real work by real scientists– almost everyone works as a team and to build a humanoid that almost talks and acts like a human, you going to need an army of scientists with many different skills and specialities (even in Dasavathaaram, Kamal is working with a big team on the killer virus in a proper lab). No, I guess since it is a Bollywood movie; the Super Star can do everything by himself.
d. Army evaluation. I am pretty sure that when the Army wants to test a new weapon or something that can kill the enemy, they will make sure it is tested in a proper lab or in the proper testing ground and with the evaluators and the top Generals far away from the test grounds. Not in Shankar’s Enthiran!
Top generals sit right in front of Chitti who is sitting in front of a table full of weapons and the whole testing is done in an army training camp with new recruits in the background. What happens if Chitti goes haywire (it did once when it tried to kill the maker) and decides to throw a grenade towards the generals or the new recruits, just for fun?
e. The mayhem in the end where it seems the whole police and military in Tamil Nadu is trying to take out one crazy robot.
Where are the tactics, man? In the movie, Shankar gets the men in arms to surround the Chitti clones and starts shooting at it. Then Shankar decides to be “brilliant” – he gets 2 gunships (finally a proper gunship helicopters!) and starts them to shoot down – right at where the police and the army on the grounds are busy fighting the enemy.
I predicted half of the men died on the ground was killed by the gunship helicopter. It is obvious that Shankar needs to watch more of Hollywood’s war movies to understand how the military really operates. They operate on well-defined tactics and proper teamwork.
2. Unnecessary scenes – instead of giving an intense film and keep us engrossed, Shankar fills up with unnecessary scenes – perhaps he did not know what to do. The scene involving the mosquitoes and Chitti 1.0 is one good example. Another is where Sana tries to make her boyfriend jealous and distracted by trying to make friend with a drunken villager.
3. Where is the underlying story? One good thing I liked on Shankar’s past movies has been the call for Indians to be better and make India a better place – evident in Anniyan and Mudhalvan which deals with corruption and dirty politics. But here in Enthiran, Dr Vaseegaran spends 10 years of his research on a robot for the Army – a weapon of mass destruction as we see later in the climax but that’s about it.
When his mentor, Dr Bohra rejects the application by Dr Vaseegaran for the very fact that Chitti goes haywire (defies the 3 laws of robotics – made famous in I, Robot) and tries to kill Dr Vaseegaran, surprisingly Dr Vaseegaran gets upsets and protests profusely (you mean Dr Vaseegaran rather be dead than get his application rejected? What is the underlying message by Shankar here?)
(Clones of Chitti 2.0 charging up – Enthiran was no doubt groundbreaking but Shankar had to go and messed up the storyline. Image source: http://www.southdreamz.com)
The plus points: Music & picturisation, Chitti 2.0 and camera work
The negative points: Storyline that defies logic