Two things…, One, it’s difficult to conceptualize and execute a film like The Robot.
Two, when Rajinikanth’s name comes in the credits, one cannot hear anything for the next two minutes. His name is greeted with a thunderous applause, whistles, yells and cheers. Such is the charisma of this superstar. Rajinikanth is the Boss. The real Baadshah.
The Robot, directed by Shankar, is a Rajinikanth Express that transports you to a world you can’t envision. Rajinikanth’s feats are legendary by now. In The Robot, he goes a step further. The Robot not only follows orders of his creator, but also cooks, fights, romances and wonder of wonders, has a lengthy conversation with a mosquito and scan loads of books/magazines and an entire telephone directory in a second. Yes, you read it right!
That’s not all, this Robot is Superman + Spiderman + Terminator + Godzilla, all rolled into one. There’s more to this Robot. It can replicate itself, wage a vicious battle, turn into an Anaconda or a monster ball and wipe off an entire army. Whew! Known for larger than life canvas, The Robot is Shankar’s most expensive and if I may say so, his most imaginative film thus far. And who better than Rajinikanth for the pivotal role!
Final word? A Rajinikanth film is an event and this combo’s (Shankar – Rajinikanth) new outing The Robot is sure to strike like Tsunami. Let me make it short-n-sweet. If you miss The Robot, it’s YOUR loss!
Location: Chennai 2010. Mission: Creating a The Robot Chitti. Purpose: To help the society. Development time: 10 years. Special Features: A human who is not born, but is created. He can dance, sing, fight, is water and fire resistant. He can do all that a human can and more. He feeds on electricity. He takes instructions literally. Where a human can lie to save himself, this Robot cannot lie.
Where he has a razor sharp memory and can memorize an entire telephone directory by just running through the pages, he cannot understand human emotions. Dr. Vasi upgrades Chitti’s processor and simulates human emotions without realizing the repercussions. Chitti gets transformed. He can now feel and the first feeling that he discovers is Love. Will this love come in the way of Dr. Vasi’s purpose of creating Chitti? Will Dr. Vasi’s own creation destroy him?
A title like The Robot automatically puts tremendous responsibility and pressure on the director’s shoulders. And The Robot is not merely a display of VFX, but it also has soul, a story to tell. At first, The Robot comes across as a clash between the virtuous (Rajinikanth) and wicked (Danny Denzongpa). But The Robot changes gears in its post-interval portions as the focus shifts to the creator (Rajinikanth) and his creation (Rajinikanth).
It’s a Rajinikanth film and it would be incomplete if his loyal fans don’t get to watch his stylish actions and feats. Thankfully, The Robot showcases it all. He can glide on the railway tracks, run horizontally on a moving train, transform into an Anaconda, can swallow helicopters and even fire at people with his fingers, without using a pistol. These are truly clap-trap moments!
Even otherwise, the screenplay is really well penned and absorbing. While the film is a super ride from start to end, it’s the penultimate 25 minutes that leaves you awe-struck and speechless. You can’t imagine a Hindi film having such an out of the world climax. There will be pandemonium inside theatres when the climax unfolds, I am sure. Let me confess, it’s the mother of all climaxes!
Only thing, Shankar could’ve controlled the length of the film. It could’ve been shorter by at least 10 to 15 minutes, which includes doing away with a song or two. Of course, like all Shankar movies, the songs are filmed most imaginatively on exotic locales, but what’s the point of having songs if they act as speed breakers?
That Shankar ranks amongst India’s best directors is well known by now and The Robot only cements the fact. His vision and execution of the difficult subject deserves the highest praise, in fact distinction marks. He not only dreams big, but the outcome is incredible too. A.R. Rahman’s music doesn’t compliment the content of the film, but like I pointed out earlier, every song has been filmed exquisitely. The action and chase sequences are outstanding (Yuen Woo Ping, action choreographer in the Matrix and Kill Bill sequels, was the stunt coordinator). Visual effects are spectacular (Stan Winston Studio, the studio behind Jurassic Park, Predator, Terminator, Iron Man, Avatar, provided the animatronics technology). Cinematography captures the grand production values with precision. The locations of Austria, Machu Picchu in Peru, U.S.A. and Brazil only enhance the visual appeal of the film. The sets are mind-blowing. Dubbing is near-perfect.
The Robot is a Rajinikanth show from start to end. And no other actor, not from Bollywood at least, would be able to do what he does with such amazing ease. Aishwarya Bachchan looks stunning and acts most convincingly. Danny Denzongpa is efficient, as always. The remaining actors enact their parts well.
On the whole, The Robot is a crowd-pleasing and hugely mass appealing tale of android revolution with a thrilling plot, rich and imaginative screenplay, super action, astounding effects and most importantly, Rajinikanth, who is the soul of the film. It’s the Big Daddy of all entertainers. Miss it at your own risk!
By Taran Adarsh