Enthiran. The most expensive movie ever made in India and the most widely marketed Tamil movie around the world. Finally being able to catch the movie on the 3rd day of its release, I can finally write an honest review based on my viewpoint. Read: MY viewpoint. If you disagree, go ahead. I don’t give a hoot.
First up: the good parts.
Rajini IS Enthiran. It is a Rajini-fest throughout the movie and he doesn’t disappoint. A clear and distinct mark shall be left by him with his fans for the total lack of punch dialogues, entrance songs and mass heroism, and yet it is a very good thing in this movie. Rajini’s acting provides a breath of fresh air and yet his persona, charisma and charm that make him the superstar of Kollywood is ever-present.
After a few number of years, Enthiran provided Rajini the perfect chance to show off his acting chops that director K Balachander noticed in the 70s. He manages to make all three characters very distinct and possess their own traits. As Dr Vaseegaran, Rajini exudes charm towards his lover, Sanaa and the next moment, the hardworking scientist wanting to improve the world. Scenes of him breaking down in disappointment and barking mad with anger was convincing.
As Chitti the Robot, Rajini gave out a calm demeanor, almost, child-like. Deadpan humour and innocent remarks with simple mannerisms were like second nature to him. Not to forget the over-eager, jealous yet madly-in-love personification of the robot after it learns how to emote was a reminder of Rajini’s Casanova heydays.
But arguably THE best Rajini performance of the decade as it comes to a close is certainly reserved for his portrayal of the villainous Chitti 2.0. Vengeful and evil, Rajini owns the screen with his maniacal laugh and snide remarks. His mannerisms and dialogue delivery are reminiscent of his early days in cinema where he thrived in the role of villains and he surely comes out shining here. Rajini did his job well, and praised he should be.
AR Rahman does what he does best here, and he kicks some major ass. Since the album release some time back, the songs have been on the Tamil charts roosting on the top of the pile. Rahman also keeps the audience engrossed in certain scenes with a powerful background score and I just cannot wait to get my hands on them when they are released to the public. Although I do have to draw the line by saying that it is still not his best work this year, which I feel is still the track listing from Vinnathaandi Varuvaaya.
To seamlessly integrate western scientific terms into Tamil without disrupting the message wanting to be conveyed is a gargantuan task, and the writers excelled here. Vairamuthu’s lyrics are so amazing that one learns new scientific terms in Tamil just by listening to the songs. Camera work is astounding. Rathnavelu captures different moods perfectly. Song picturization is pleasing to the eyes, especially for the Kaathal Anukkal and Kilimanjaro songs. Wide angles used in scenes to describe the magnitude of mayhem in the city certainly let you see more action.
Make-up / Costume Design
Manish Malhotra and Mary E. Vogt made the stars shine brighter. Aishwarya Rai looked amazingly graceful and sweet in one scene and changes to hot and sexy in another. Rajinikanth is made to look younger, hipper and smarter and his costumes are sure to be mimicked by Indian youths soon enough.
And now, let us move on to the negative aspects of the movie.
Aishwarya Rai, although being the fulcrum to the storyline, is merely an eye candy. And although it is an awesomely sweet and tasty candy, one could not help but wonder why her acting talents were under-utilised here in Enthiran.
Danny Denzongpa as the antagonist also didn’t have much scope to perform, as so did Santhaanam and Karunaas. Although this should not come as a surprise and all the main characters are carried by Rajinikanth himself, making other actors under-utilized or simply forgettable.
The story tends to drag a lot in the second half of the movie. A taught screenplay would have been expected of the director Shankar, but surprisingly, he disappoints to an extent. Shankar needs to decide which demographic market does he want to sell the movie to, and certain scenes which purely exist for masala purposes does not bode quite well with the up-market audiences. Similarly, if he wants to do things the hi-tech way, he should maintain such consistency throughout the movie, and not fluctuate in the flow of the story. Flip-flopping from masala comedy to sci-fi thriller scenes made me lose interest.
This being Shankar’s dream project for almost a decade, I understand the fact that he wanted to barf out his ideas onto the storyboard then drag the story for 3 hours. But understanding that doesn’t mean I accept it. The final action scenes could’ve been made shorter and not so, well, over-the-top.
The stunt work for the actions scenes are a mixed bag of nuts. Some are good, some are bad. The train fight scene was trademark Yuen Woo Ping and it was a sight to behold. That was it, though. Then came the car chases at the end that pretty much summed up car chases in Tamil cinema. For all the new leaps that Shankar made in this movie, it was absolutely disappointing to see the regular goons flying around after getting whacked and cars being thrown into the air after a small collision on the bumpers. It was getting to be like another regular Tamil movie. The saving grace was with the mayhem that Chitti 2.0 causes while facing off the police and army. Although, standard Tamil movie person-gets-beatup-up scenes were still existent.
One aspect I did not touch is the CGI effects. Since Tamil cinema is still doing baby steps in movie effects compared to Hollywood, it is unfair to compare the levels of effects. Although for a Tamil movie to be producing such effects present in Enthiran is a very laudable thing and it certainly proves to be a benchmark for Tamil cinema. The ending scenes provide a very high benchmark for forthcoming movies of this genre in Tamil cinema.
The English subtitles certainly bode well as they allow a wider array of audience to watch the movie (especially here in Malaysia). And they are quite accurate as well.
Enthiran may be riding on Rajini’s shoulders, but it is undoubtedly a Shankar movie. Unlike other previous movies of Rajini, he is merely an actor here (an awesome one at that). This movie will never have been made or run without the massive star power that it has, namely Rajini, Aishwarya Rai and AR Rahman. Shankar had great vision and guts to make this movie, and he can claim full credit to it. But to market the movie to a wide audience, especially in India, more specifically in Tamil Nadu, requires much more than a few flashy scenes. That’s where Rajini comes in and he deftly pulls the job. Nevertheless, this is certainly a good thing where now the audience has come to believe that a sci-fi movie could also be made in Tamil.
Watch it just for the entertainment values, and enjoy Rajini’s performance. Although I must warn you that Shankar’s screenplay might leave you wondering why is it taking so long. Shankar also risked losing the audience at few points in movie, which he then manages to bring back later, although at a slightly lesser interest level.
My personal rating – 6/10
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