TOW Rajini Becomes Self-Aware

Shankar’s movies always come with an expiry date(barring a few). After a few years, you notice the faults or the lameness or both. When you watch them for the first time, you experience the initial high moments and come out of the theater satisfied with the grand scheme of things that entertained you but view them a couple of times more or watch them few years down the line, you don’t feel the same. They don’t age so well. In my opinion, only Gentleman and Indian(and Boys, to an extent) have stood the test of time.

The post-Baba Rajinikanth films have all been about packaging. They obviously revolve around Rajini but that extra bit of effort is taken to package them well(successful or not) as salable products to avoid the kind of debacle Baba experienced. In that respect, two different approaches were tried. Underplaying Rajini that met with quite some success, and another attempt to showcase Rajini from start to finish with all the emotions – sentiment, romance, comedy and the ultimate superstar – that met with great success. So what can you do different here when the same director had managed to stuff in every aspect of Rajini in just the previous film? You cause Rajini to become self-aware.

No, this is not about Chitti the Robot (Version 2.0, mind you!), like Skynet, becoming self-aware. This is Rajinikanth becoming self-aware. It’s quite a masterful idea to build from. Rajini has kicked the asses of almost all kinds of villains in his long and brilliantly illustrative career. And if you let even one of the villains hurt Rajini for more than a few seconds, you’ll only see the theater demolished. So what you do? You make Rajini face Rajini. The self-awareness here is about how Rajini the star has tried almost every trick and then realized that the zenith can only be achieved if another Rajini hurts Rajini. And because of Rajini’s epic villainous roles early in his career, it works beautifully in Endhiran, after all these years.

Endhiran pretty much follows Shankar’s tested formula of keeping things light and humorous in the first half and going all out crazy in the second. The first half is laden with funny moments that utilize Rajini’s flair for comedy pretty well. Aishwarya Rai does what she’s asked to do. Shankar is never known for strong or even capable heroine roles and if it’s a Rajini movie, you need not even think about it. But she’s hot and she’s insanely gorgeous. A lot of unwarranted ridicule surrounds her appearances, on screen or off it but they don’t even matter if you can look like a billion bucks, like that. I expected great picturization for Puthiya Manidha but I liked what I saw. It begins with the opening credits and SPB’s commandingly rendered parts are  strewn over the development of the Robot. Quite goose-bumpy those sequences.

Just like Sivaji, the pre-interval shot sets up the second half pretty well. But some of the biggest disappointments  of the movie stem from the immediate portions after the interval. The mosquito dialog with Chitti is one major irritant. The whole sequence leading to and including Kilimanjaro could have been avoided. But what comes next makes up for it. The last 45 minutes or so is an insanely awesome ride. The villain Rajini makes you root for him because he is the one doing things that Rajini the Superstar is expected to do. It doesn’t matter which side of the law he is in. And when he is making it work so well with memorable throwbacks to his early days of villainous roles and more importantly Alex Pandian, what else can you do?

In a lot of aspects, this is not a quintessential Superstar Rajinikanth movie. You don’t have punch dialogues, no stylish mannerisms except for the DOT! There isn’t a celebrated introductory sequence for Rajini. Hell, in fact he’s sedate and consumed in his robotics in his first scene. In fact, one Rajini is just there mouthing dialogs and even timidly shies away from a fight. But it’s actually good to see how it has worked by switching the persona from positive to negative. This is definitely one ultimate Rajini film that is not a Rajini film.

I am not saying this would join the likes of Indian or Gentleman as one of Shankar’s better films. Impossible to judge now. But I am willing to bet on it. Sivaji gave me that initial Superstar high but sadly didn’t age very well. I believe Endhiran would. Because let’s face it, this movie could have become something potentially bigger in stature and imagination. Thanks to which, a lot of the bigger ideas(credit to Sujatha here?) are just touched upon and left at that. There was a goldmine here(in terms of story/script/acts, not necessarily box office collections) but they had to please all kinds of Rajini fans. But if this what you get for a Tamil film that can finally boast of impressive CGI, dialogues on science and technology that aren’t frown worthy, I would happily take it. Well, why not? This is the film that makes the Superstar self-aware and unabashedly proclaims that only Rajini can kick Rajini’s ass.


22 thoughts on “TOW Rajini Becomes Self-Aware

  1. Agree but i still think there were punch dialogs. Not the usual kind but the one like “kadavul padacha rendu urupdiyana vishayam onnu nee inunu naa” was just awesome!. And chitti does the style,wit,charisma,fight.Ppl look at Vasi and say they were disappointed.

    Adi: True but they weren’t in your face like usual!


  2. Absolutely agree. What an experience it was! The Alex Pandian throwback – the ‘Who is the black sheep’ followed by the awesome baahing. And this was a movie where after a fairly long time I saw Rajini the actor. One of those Chuck Norris like messages floating around actually said that – ‘Rajini is so badass that he plays his own villain now’. Great review!

    Adi: Thanks!


  3. So if Rajini kicking his own ass is the zenith, the logical question is – what is his next movie going to be about?

    Adi: Haha I wanted to end it with something like that, “Where would he go from here?” but then thought it’s too early!


  4. totally agree.. havent had a tamil movie live up to all the hype, and then some, in a looong time!

    @J: good one.. missed that point :p

    Adi: True!


  5. Chitti 2.0 was unbelievable!It was good to have the Thalaivar of the 70s and 80s back. I didn’t mind the kosu scene especially because Shankar mentioned how it is a tribute to Sujatha (Ranguski being his childhood nickname). I think the movie has a lot of Sujatha’s vision in it. Chitti is as adorable and funny as Sujatha’s Juno and the villain’s fortress was very reminiscent of the Jeeva rajyam in En Iniya Iyanthira!

    Adi: I didn’t know about this Sujatha tribute. But it could have been better!


  6. I agree with every point. Written very well.

    I enjoyed it second time, but as you said, I dunno whether I will enjoy in a year or two.

    The mosquito scene was bad..but the last 40 mins of the movie made up for it. Rajni as villian is epic.


    Adi: Thanks!


  7. Adi

    Nice analysis. I sure had goose bumps during ‘Puthiya Manidha’. It’s still trying in my head.


    Adi: Pudhiya Manidha is my fav song from the lot!


  8. Super review. Agree with most parts but thalaivar effects were there. The Rajni-ism was abundant but very very cleverly disguised. Instead of Vasi having all those traits, they were passed onto Chitti. The film works in layers. On the surface of it, it might not be a Rajni film but think abut it a bit, and you will find all of ’em present and correct :)
    Fantastic review ..


    Adi: Thanks man!


  9. I think Chitti will age well, but not the film. As a die-hard Rajini fan, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, but I don’t know if I’ll revisit it. I’ll probably just watch Chitti on youtube in parts :P

    This film was such a rediscovery of Rajini the actor, as Chitti. I thought his body language was pretty fabulous, not to mention the villainy, which he’s a master at.

    I liked how much they neutered the Vasi character. A huge gamble they pulled off with Rajini playing the role, IMO.

    Adi: You could be right. But I still think this has really nice original moments(like the Amman scene for example) that the whole movie would stay fresh even in multiple viewings. And Chitti, like you said, is peerless.


  10. I think one will enjoy the movie,if he is not a rajini fan,i mean hardcore rajini fan

    Shankar has done a good job and held to his script and thankfully he didnt come up with things like robot speaking punch dialogs or neural schema of actor called rajnikanth. it would hv been a washout if he had tried that.

    I felt graphics was really good and last sequence imagination was superb!!

    Overall a Shankar Film


  11. Haha I haven’t watched a lot of Rajini movies (Actually this one might have been my first?), but I watched it in the theatre, and it made me laugh… The Kilimanjaro song was pretty much the height of it. At the end of the second half (Which I feel was too dragged) I started to get bored :P It reminded me why I stay away from such tamil movies! I do NOT understand the hype at all.

    Personally I wish I just rented the movie, so I could fastforward parts of (a lot of) it. By the way, the songs with english subtitles are HILARIOUS!

    (I might be asking for ‘hate’ here :P, but I am entitled to my own move opinions!)


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