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Nov 19

Robot, or Endhiran as the original is called, is India’s costliest film. It stars Rajinikanth, arguably India’s most popular actor around the world. The film has been written and directed by Shankar, whose last film with Rajni – Sivaji – was among the top Indian grossers of all time. The film has an ambitious story to tell, that of a scientist who creates a robot that turns rogue.

All of these facts have been thrown at us right from the time the film went into production. The hype has been gargantuan, the expectations enormous. But when you watch the film, all of them go out for a toss because the expectations and hype don’t live up to the film.

Robot, simply put, is one of the most entertaining Indian films – across all languages – ever made. Do yourself a favour, and go watch Robot.   

 

The film takes no time to get to the point, or ‘dot’ as Dr Vasi [Rajni] would say. Vasi, a scientist, has been working on creating a robot for close to ten years. His creation is Chitti [Rajni, who else], whose body has been modelled on Vasi himself.

The scientist wants his creation to be used by the Indian armed forces for security, but has to get him ready for the Army to approve his invention. He begins a process of training Chitti in various aspects with the help of his girlfriend, Sana [Aishwarya].

Meanwhile, Vasi’s guru in science, Dr Bohra [Danny], has been trying to create his own fleet of robots, but one which would cause more destruction than do good.

In Chitti, Bohra sees the opportunity to fulfil his dream. Bohra, who heads the committee that could approve Chitti’s induction in the army, cites Chitti’s inability to differentiate between good and bad, and to take the right decisions, as a reason to deny Chitti’s inclusion in the army.

Vasu wants to now train Chitti in a different manner, teaching him the value of human relationships and ability to understand emotions. Vasi succeeds, but his plan backfires when Chitti falls in love with Sana. What follows is complete mayhem.

 

The film has an outrageous plot to begin with. The robot runs sideways on a train, talks to mosquitoes when he’s in ‘Mosquito mode’ [hilarious] and develops ‘feelings’. But what makes them work is director Shankar’s ability to involve these within the confines of the story, and to pull them off in the most entertaining way possible.

We have seen ‘SUPERSTAR Rajni’ [as the title suggests] doing the most hard-to-fathom things on screen before – we all know how he used a knife to cut a bullet aimed at him, the two halves of which went on to kill two other people.

In Robot, Rajni plays a humanoid capable of doing things no man can. Basically, he’s a ‘Rajni’. So while the actor’s super-herogiri keeps you enthralled, you know it’s all there for a reason. For that, credit goes to Shankar for letting Rajni’s legendary skills come through, but at no point of the film does it get bigger than the plot itself.

The film has the best special effects ever seen in an Indian film. Never before could you imagine the kind of climax you see in Robot. You are spellbound at one stunt after another and Shankar has imaginatively utilised the scope the story provides him to innovate action sequences that, frankly, are jaw-droppingly good.

Of course, some of us may be used to seeing such action in Hollywood blockbusters, but Robot matches up to quite a few of them, if it doesn’t better them. And that is saying a lot.

For Shankar, this is a giant step as a filmmaker. He dares to think big and pulls it off too. Making a film, the budget of which exceeds Rs150 crores isn’t child’s play, and Shankar makes sure he puts to good use every last penny. Inspirations, of course, are hard to miss. Vasi has another robot, modeled on R2D2 from the Star Wars series, who mysteriously disappears after the first scene.

Chitti’s body, when damaged especially, reminds one of the Terminator and his pranks are similar to that of Jim Carrey’s Mask. But to Shankar’s credit, he integrates these into a very Indian story and gives you something original at the end of it.

Aishwarya is an inspired bit of casting. Her charm to be able to attract even a robot comes through and she looks like a million bucks. Thankfully, she gives a performance better than in all her recent films. Danny is efficient as usual.

The camerawork and editing give the film the edge it requires [although some may argue the film could have been shorter], and the art direction is of a very high standard.

Credit needs to go to Swanand Kirkire, who has translated the film’s dialogues in Hindi. Compared to other dubbed films, this is no rush job and every scene seems to have been worked painstakingly on.

Kirkire retains the humour, emotions and thought in the dialogues, and with Aishwarya and Danny having dubbed their own lines, it’s a good experience for a Hindi film audience. The voice actor who has dubbed for both the Rajnis does a good job too.

Rajinikanth, whose fan following extends beyond India into many other countries of the world, gives his many admirers something to cherish in Robot. In fact, if you’re not a Rajni fan, you might just be one after watching Robot.

Whether he woos the heroine in the most garish attire in outrageously shot songs or fights off an entire battalion without as much a scratch on him – he’s a robot after all – Rajni pulls it off with style. When the robot turns sinister towards the end, Rajni’s transformation has to be seen to be believed.

The creepy laughter, body language, the sneer under the heavily made up face all create an effect that leaves you spellbound. This a Rajni fest all the way, and it’s not to be missed.

Chulbul Pandey can move over, Robot is here. And he’s here to stay.

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