Endhiran Review Mathematics

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Malayalam, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Nepali, Khasi, Dogri, Garo and other languages.

I don’t do James Bond. I don’t do Superman. I don’t do E.T. and its Indian version Kol Mil Gaya. I don’t do Crouching Tiger, but I do Endhiran. There’s a very good reason for this change of heart. I have been following Aishwarya Rai Bachchan around, since I saw her performance in Jodhaa Akbar, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker.

I dragged myself to Endhiran, blaming her for sending me to a tech movie. Well! The movie titles told me to sit up and take notice, all black and silver, even green. The theme song also kept me company. Shankar did not waste time after that. The movie is about a brilliant scientist, Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth) who is assembling a robot that will replace men in the battle field, a ‘good guy’ robot if you like.

It is so clever it knows MTV and Indian dances, but it hates the professor’s two assistants Shiva (Santhanam) and Ravi (Karunas). The scientist is so engrossed in his work he neglects Sana his girlfriend played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. He is also not aware that his boss, Dr. Bhora (Denny Denzongpa) is jealous of his success.

Good guy robot
Vaseegaran presents the robot at a robotics conference and announces that it will do the work of 100 men. He says there is a lot of pain and suffering when men die in the army. That is why he wants approval for the military use.

Vaseegaran takes the robot home and his mother gives him a name, Chitti. Sana also convinces him to lend him to her so that he can help her study for her medical exams. Chitti cooks, cleans, dances, teaches self defence to widows where Sana lives and even drives a car.

Trouble begins when Chitti saves a girl from a fire. He carries her from the burning building but she complains that she is naked. Chitti replies, “You are alive.” Chitti carries her to safety in front of television cameras. She commits suicide by throwing herself in front of a moving truck. Dr. Bhora is happy and tells Vaseegaran that Chitti is useless because he is a machine and has no idea about shame and honour.

Good robot turns bad
Vaseegaran goes back to the laboratory and programmes Chitti with human feelings. Sana kisses Chitti on the cheek after he helped her friend with a difficult pregnancy. That kiss is the beginning of Chitti’s love for her. He has a big fight with his creator Vaseegaran and he brutally assaults him. Chitti pleads, “I want to live. I love Sana.” Vaseegaran kills him and drops his remains in a dump site.

Dr. Bhora re-assembles him and re-programmes him to be a ‘bad guy’ robot with a killing power of 100 men. That is when mathematics takes over. Chitti multiplies himself. His soldiers have the same hair cut, glasses, clothes, mannerisms everything.

Shankar loves computer graphics. In his Tamil film Jeans, starring Prashant and Aishwarya Rai, he duplicated Prashant’s character because the story is about twins. The computer graphics are so convincing, you have to look closely to see that they are not on the same line of vision, like the scenes where the twins are jogging and riding bicycles.

Multiplication
Shankar took multiplication to another level in Endhiran. Chitti the robot kidnaps Sana, his creator’s girlfriend at their wedding ceremony. He robs jewellery and department stores so that Sana could have everything she wants as his queen. Dr. Vaseegaran and the police try to catch Chitti. Shankar turns on the tap on the duplication.

Dr. Vaseegaran instructs the electricity department to blacken the city. Chitti cannot function without power so his army that looks like him spills into the street. Batteries in their bodies are dangerously low. You must see the movie to see how they solve that problem.

Chitti’s army is besieged so all the mini-Chitti’s fight back. They group themselves into a bomb and flatten the police. They form themselves into a carpet and roll up to form a solid block of destruction. They turn themselves into a dragon that attacks anything moving. While I was trying to count how many Chitti’s form the dragon, they went underground.

Dr. Vaseegaran and the police are relieved but that is short-lived. Something more sinister comes out of the ground. Let’s just say it was something with numbers, figures, numerals, something bigger than counting 1-0, or is it 0-1? I was never good at mathematics. Students of Einstein or Asimov will have a better explanation.

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.

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