Words: Glen Byford
'Endhiran', also billed as 'The Robot' (UK Release: 1 October 2010)
Director: S. Shankar
Cast: Rajinikanth, Aishwarya Rai
Being a cultured gentleman, I am quite fond of watching foreign films. I revel in the slight pretentiousness of it and pride myself on my ability to read and keep track of what is happening on-screen.
Shocked that a Tamil language film was actually playing at our local cinema, me and my girlfriend decided to pop along and catch 'Endhiran'. I went into it knowing nothing about the film, other than the language it was in and presuming that there may be robots in it. Sometimes this is all I need to catch my attention. And boy, was I given more than just a dodgy sci-fi flick with subtitles - reportedly the most expensive movie in the history of the Indian film industry, it is a film with everything, almost literally everything, including the stuff you didn't even know you wanted.
'Endhiran' has the ever popular and entertaining device of dual roles, as Indian superstar, Rajinikanth plays a Jeff Goldblum style professor (if Jeff Goldblum was the type of professor that would likely burst into song about protons and nucleons) as well as playing his own robotic creation, Chitti. The film also has a couple of bumbling assistants, a love interest, an evil rival scientist, slapstick comedy, violence, musical numbers, pixelated nudity, spelling mistakes and a classic science fiction scenario of teaching a robot to have feelings.
And this is all before the interval!
When the film returns, it does so with a limitless gusto that will have your head spinning in much the same way the titular robot is able to rotate his own. While the plot of the professor's futuristic creation falling in love his master's own girlfriend was obvious from a mile off, what nobody could have foreseen was how automated emotions could possibly have lead to a baffling conversation with a mosquito, and a A. R Rahman number that appropriates Black Eyed Peas' 'Boom Boom Pow' and the Western love of autotune, which also sees the film's gorgeous female lead, Aishwarya Rai, seemingly morphing into Fergie.
The initial premise of light-heartedness and a family friendly feel is sometimes wrong-footed with juxtaposed touches of shocking violence. This is especially apparent in the second part of the film as the plot veers from easy going Sunday afternoon material, to a bat-shit crazy, head-scratchingly confusing romp before throwing itself full on into a Terminator-esque distopian disaster movie mixed with a Walt Disney sense of morality and Daft Punk dance moves.
By the time 'Endhiran' had finished and we were getting up to leave, I had born witness to a dazzling and satisfying sci-fi epic with an identity crisis, that I doubt many fans of the Transformers franchise, or James Cameron devotees, will ever discover.
Endhiran is in limited cinemas across the UK. Read the Hunchbakk blog for more of Glen's writing