Cult Classics: Enthiran

enthiran index

A comedy sci-fi musical from 2010, Enthiran is an Indian Tamil-language film written and directed by S. Shankar and it’s absolutely elephantshit insane (because that’s much bigger than batshit) and while the plot might be a bit predictable the individual elements that make up the movie certainly aren’t. It’s packed to the brim with action scenes, daft comedy and songs, and if it wasn’t for a saggy middle section would have definitely made it in to the Our Favourite Films section of the site.

It begins with Dr Vasi completing his work on a robot that he’s spent the last ten years creating, and naming him Chitti. Both roles are played by Rajinikanth, though Vasi has a beard so you can tell the two apart, and he’s aided by two lab assistants who seem so stupid it’s surprising they keep on remembering to breathe, and who provide a lot of the sillier slapstick in the movie. Dr Vasi has a girlfriend, Sana (Aishwarya Rai) who’s upset with him for ignoring her while making Chitti, but he wins her over by kissing her a lot, because while he may be inconsiderate he’s apparently got lips that can make a woman swoon.

The first hour or so of the movie is your typical fish out of water comedy as Chitti gets to grips with life and the idiosyncrasies of us crazy humans. It also gives the film the opportunity to show off his many talents from cooking like a Michelin Star Chef to defending Sana’s life and beating the crap out of a train load of thugs, and he even makes time to help Sana cheat on her exams, deliver a baby that doctor’s were convinced would die and save the lives of those trapped in a burning building. There’s also a subplot about how Dr Vasi wants to get the army to take on Chitti and other robots that he plans to make like him so he can make a shed load of cash, but his old professor Dr Bohra (Danny Denzongpa) foils him initially and then after Chitti saves a naked woman from death she’s so ashamed about not having any clothes on that she runs off in to traffic and dies the press turn against him.

Due to this, and concerns that Chitti doesn’t know the value of human life, the defence ministry want to stop funding the research but Dr Vasi claims he can give Chitti emotions, and cue a montage of him doing such a thing. It backfires though as Chitti falls in love with Sana and after professing his love to her Vasi destroys him in a fit of rage and dumps him in the garbage. With eighty odd minutes to go it’s clearly not the end of the movie though, and after he partially rebuilds himself Dr Bohra tracks him down, with it turning out that Bohra is a bad bad man who’s made a deal with some terrorists to create a robotic army, and soon he makes Chitti evil. Which leads to the final hour of the film, which is action packed and contains some sequences which can only be described as “Fucking amazing” and “The kind of thing which will have you giggling like a loon”.

The film’s big downside is that it gets rather bland in the middle once Chitti develops emotions, a good half hour could have been cut from the second hour and it would have been a far better movie. A couple of times I found myself considering fast forwarding through some of the duller moments but managed to resist, which is a shame as events either side of these more boring segments are consistently captivating. There’s a couple of other minor issues, the score’s a little on the nose (let’s just say you’ll immediately know who the villain of the piece is) but then this may be the least subtle movie ever made and that’s surprisingly no bad thing. A couple of the songs also go on for too long but most are a delight, and while much of the CGI is enormously impressive, a few scenes feature shockingly dodgy effects, and I’m not convinced that Chitti’s fire fighting efforts weren’t created on the same Amiga 500’s they used to make Babylon 5 with. Fortunately it doesn’t really matter though, as the film has an enormous amount of charm and such sequences are still fun to watch.

Apart from the above I’ve absolutely no other complaints, the cast are fantastic and Rajinikanth takes on both roles with aplomb, Chitti may be a little cheesy at times but that makes the film all the more lovable. Meanwhile Rai is superb as the object of both of their affections and has a fantastic voice to boot, while Denzongpa is pleasingly subtle as the villain of the piece. There’s a fair amount of unexpected weirdness too, including a scene with talking mosquitoes, the action set pieces in the final hour are outstanding, and it has an impressive amount of very funny jokes and bits of physical comedy. A sequel, 2.0, was released last year and is apparently even better, and given how great Enthiran is I’ll be buying it the second it’s released on dvd.

Alex Finch.

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