Enthiran ( Robot )…Of Man and Mettle..

Director Shankar has a penchant for directing magnum opus productions. His last nine outings in Tamil cinema have not failed to disappoint on this front, but it his recent tenth one which has etched a unique place in the  hallowed “Hall of fame” in Indian cinema. Enthiran, India’s first “convincing” sci-fi movie and the brain-child of Shankar was conceptualized almost a decade ago. The Director has stretched his imagination to a frontier that nobody has dared to as yet in Indian cinema. Undoubtedly, his stretched imagination had to be mantled with a budget which was of an equally gargantuan proportion and one which was not easy to obtain funding for. The astute Director probably put this tenth best movie off until such an opportune time till he proved his mettle with the previous nine and garnered enough of a reputation over the years to attract the attention of the Titan of south indian media, Kalanidhi Maran. Shankar is India’s James Cameron, one who thinks big and delivers bigger. With the results that Enthiran has witnessed one can now earmark Shankar as the able custodian of Indian Sci Fi movies.

Production costs of Endhiran range in the vicinity of INR 200 crores of which 20 crores alone was spent on publicity and marketing. There is an art of making best use of big numbers, very few Directors can do this. Like free-flowing cascading water, money swirled downstream until it met its desired destination at the mouth of an open eager sea. The open sea received Enthiran in a way no movie has been received before in the recent past. The sea now continues to create a fair share of tidal waves and tsunamis  where Shankar, Kalanidhi Maran and the Superstar Rajnikanth are surfing on the biggest wave of their lives.Enthiran is a technological marvel for Indian standards.Once you watch the movie it is amply clear where 50% of the production costs have dissipated to. But, the most commendable aspect is that it is money well spent as the desirous results have been created. Special effects for the movie were created by Animatronics studio (Stan Winston Studios) which handled visual effects for iconic films like Aliens, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park. Shankar employed Hollywood stunt director Yuen Woo Ping who designed action scenes for films like The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc. A part of the production budget converted into ample remuneration for Oscar award-winning music composer AR Rahman ( who has directed every single movie of Shankar’s with the exception of “Anniyan” due to a fall out in that year ). From the sumptuous Enthiran cake a bite went out to the beautiful Aishwarya Rai, a large creamy piece to Superstar Rajnikanth ( including profit share ), a crunchy slice for the able Director, the icing and cherry went to Kalanidhi Maran of Sun Pictures. Enthiran makes a fine case study for the makers of Love Story 2050, Kambakth Ishq, Singh is Kingg who should at least now get their priorities in the right order.

The visual effects in Enthiran are undoubtedly the highlight of the movie. The hi tech gizmo scenes have never been convincingly portrayed in the past from the north of the Himalayas to the south of the Vindhyas. There are no juvenile or awkward moments in the visual effects deliverance. There are numerous scenes which are stretched beyond the final frontiers of Indian Sci Fi cinema production. The racy climax scene is an avalanche of technological marvel and must have easily swallowed a mammoth chunk of the production costs. I do not think Shankar was taking a “risk” with this dream project, this man has done his home work, he would have been amply convinced that “this will work”, and work it did . Every song in the movie is a visual treat, yet again a trademark for Shankar who accords unimaginable importance to their picturizations. Shankar in his pursuit for perfection has also chosen a unique destination in the Inca civilizations of Machu Picchu in Peru for the “Khilimanjaro” number. Needless to say Aishwarya looks like a bird of paradise in this song. My personal favorite is the ” iruumbele oru idhiyam ” a racy techno number shot in the back drop of paradoxical geometric patterns in vibrant hues of blue, gold and silver. I found every song in Enthiran well suited for the situation and adequately apt for the movie.

And then there is a Superstar. Rajnikanth’s movie opened at 5AM in Chennai. The air I heard was festive, the atmosphere electric. A milk “abhishekham” was conducted with utmost reverence in the wee hours of the morning over colossal pictures of the superstar, followed by chanting of Rajni hyms, bursting of crackers and distribution of sweets. Rajnikanth is a festival by himself and reason enough to celebrate. Enthiran marks Rajnikanth’s foray into an unknown territory, one he has not wandered into and one which no other Director has dared to either. One such outing ( Ba Ba )of Rajnikanth into the mystique world crumbled, another outing into the world of occult became a phenomenal hit ( Chandramukhi ), but an outing into the Sci-Fi world was en entry into no man’s land in Indian cinema. Indian sci-fi cinema is a zone full of landmines and remained an area with very few trespassers until Shankar and his able team firmly placed their flag of triumph in this territory with Enthiran. One wonders if Kamal Haasan may have had been better suited in the lead role but it is at the time when Frankenstein’s “monster” turns on the creator himself is precisely when the villanous Rajnikanth scores completely. This is the moment that one must wait for in the second half of the movie, the moment that the “hallmark” villain in Rajni emerges. Rajni in his unabashed manner plays the part with ease and his trademark style can put the most experienced of villains to shame. Rajni soars on the popularity index even when he plays the negative role and has the audience completely eating out of his hands. There is one part which goes down as my favorite moment in the movie where he tries to spot the scientist Vaseegaran in the army of villanous Robots. Rajni imitates a bleating sheep and brings the house down.

I have shied away from getting into the story line as this movie is all about experiencing Shankar’s galactic imagination, Rajnikanth’s villanous style, Aishwarya’s on-screen radiance and above all the special effects that this movie offers. Indian cinema has finally come of age in this unexplored frontier of Sci Fi movies with Enthiran. We are not exactly in Hollywood as yet, but undoubtedly Shankar has placed us somewhere in the vicinity. This is Shankar’s story of a man-made Android that has been modified with Humanoid emotions. A Robot which falls in love with his creator’s love interest and turns against his creator. A Robot that plays an obsessive lover boy role in a first ever “masala” induced sci-fi movie tapestried with all the necessary ingredients of romance, action, drama, peppy numbers and revenge. Go watch this one and you will agree that Shankar has started a new chapter in Indian cinema. Shankar’s mega voyeurism is a story of Man and his Mettle.

Cast : Rajnikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa

Director : Shankar

Music: AR Rahman

Written by: S. Shankar, Sujatha

Rating ****

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213 Responses to “Enthiran ( Robot )…Of Man and Mettle..”

  1. K Balachander’s letter to Shankar –

    Dear Shankar,
    A craftsman uses his tools, an engineer his learning, a painter his talent, a musician his gifts, a singer his skills, a politician his experience, a philosopher his knowledge, a swami his faith, a priest his prayers, a businessman his resources, – but you use all these – but more important you use the opportunities too, with all your mind, heart and soul.
    If somebody had given me the opportunity to make a film with Rajinikanth and Aishwarya, given me unlimited resources, given me the permission to use whatever canvas or geography I choose too – I certainly would not know what to do! I would probably in the end, made a film, which may have made the audience applaud, – but I certainly could not have made a film that makes a eighty years old man like me – clap his hands in glee!
    The most saleable star in the country, the most beautiful woman in the world, the most acclaimed composer in all music, and a discerning knowledgeable producer, with deep endless pockets is the sort of gauntlet that not many people would take-up because it is like walking a knife – edged precipice to doom – but you have accepted the challenge with your characteristic courage – and have come out rocking and smelling of roses.
    I can modestly say that I know Rajnikanth. Infact I christened him. And also converted him into an actor. After me, a few other directors made him a hero. After that Manirathnam and Sureshkrishna made him a commercial certainty. But you have made him into a cinema conglomerate.
    I introduced Rajini as a bad man. You have made him worse. Wonderfully worse.
    The scene where Chitti dismantles himself brought a lump to my throat. I turned to see my grandson sobbing and my son also casually wipe his eyes. You can make three generations dance to your tunes? Are we in the same business, the same profession superman?
    But then I forget that cinema is not a mere business for you. It is like a beast inside, which chases your obsession for creativity and pushes your imagination and drives your horizons, to greater and wider geographies.
    When I see the crowds that throng the theatres all over the world, when I have personally experienced their reactions inside, it seems that you are the Pied piper, who has taken cinema back to it magic and its fascination.
    And finally- atleast for cinema’s sake, may the SUN never set on the Maran empire, or lights ever fade, or curtains ever fall on Shankar film ever.
    Bravo brave boy – I bow to your courage, conviction and commitment.
    Bravo – I bow to you for ENTHIRAN.
    A POST SCRIPT LITERALLY WILL IT BE TOO MUCH IF I SAY ENTHIRAN IS “AVATHAR”
    YOU ARE OUR JAMES CAMERON
    AND SUN PICTURES OUR MGM..?
    WHY NOT?
    Yours Sincerely,
    K.Balachander

  2. Muraliraja Says:

    Sharmila, first thing first. As usual well written post though I don’t fully agree with certain points you made. Hats off to Shankar for the hard work he had put into this movie. But it has not fully quenched my thirst. I watched the movie with a bunch of Rajini fans(me incl). Most of them felt the same. I feel little betrayed considering the fact I went to watch this movie at midnight 00:50 driving 40kms out of city. I saw kids getting in to cinema hall at midnight. Do you think this film is really worth all this trouble? When I go to a Rajini-Shankar combination movie with 200cr budget, I expect fireworks. Edge of the seat entertainment. Not a average sci-fi movie. The common man for whom a Rajini movie is like a festival, who is ready to pay 300 bucks(not for black tickets. This is Counter price. Advantage of having Grandfather as CM) for his superstar movie in a state where the upper limit for a ticket is only 120 bucks, I feel, that common man thirst has not been fullyquenched. Though Shankar has put lot of hard work for Enthiran, Indian & Gentleman still remains as my favourite Shankar movies. No doubt, Superstar has done a fantastic job, but there are half a dozen movies which I consider as Rajini’s greatest movies. In all this, without much effort or criticism faced, one man(as usual) is laughing his way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder why I am not blessed with a CM grandfather!
    BTW, somebody should inform KB sir that MGM is up for sale as it is in the verge of bankruptcy.

    P.s: Your favourite moment in the movie is also the favourite scene for many fans including me. Infact, yesterday I have sent you a YouTube link of the scene via Twitter.

    • Murali – Thank you for your very candid point of view. I understand that this movie would disappoint a hard core Rajni fan with the lack of a grand entry for Rajni, opening number and above all punch dialogues. This is a complete off the track role for Rajni. My appreciation for the film is more for Shankar’s sense of imagination and his vision. This is by no means a racy entertainer like Indian or Anniyan, but due credit must be given to Shankar for making finally a Sci Fi movie and that with a masala genre. This will not work in any other language inmho, not even hindi. However I think the character Vaseegaran should not have been played by Rajni, it just did not suit him as much as Chitti did. KB’s letter is quite kiddish but I found it cute too,. LOL on your comment on MGM, he should have said 20th century Fox instead!!

    • And thank you for the Twitter mmmmeehh link:)

    • I also agree with all this DMK Sun TV clout..

  3. Sharmila,

    Here is my review.

    Endhiran released here in a multi-plex called Shatti. The hall faces the Arabian sea in the north and is surrounded on the other three sides by enough parking for about 1500 cars.

    To my surprise, I couldn’t find a spot to park my car within 2 kilometers anywhere nearby. There were cars parked all over the place like bees on a honeycomb. Even the inter-lock pavements were occupied by station wagons, reminding me for an umpteenth time that I must swap this sedan for a high CG smaller version!

    I left my vehicle in a private villa on the beach and walked back to the hall.

    Everything was Tamil. The people were Tamil, the buzz was Tamil, the oxygen was Tamil and even the arab doorman at the main entrance was saying, “Wanakkam!”

    The previous show had just finished. A sea of delighted faces were rolling out of the exit.

    Children came screaming at the top of their voices, mothers came screaming after them, animated teenagers were giggling and staring around, and fathers had eyebrows that were stuck far up on the foreheads.

    In general, I thought all of them looked contented and had got their money’s worth.

    One little kid to another: My playstation Robot no run soooooooooo faaaaasssstt fast fast fast fast

    Other kid: And my video no going like theeeeeeeeessssssss on train and like ooooooooo n uuuuuuuuuuupppppppp n wwwwwwwwaeeeeeeeee

    Mother 1: Sshhhhhhh…. Rani..! this way…

    Mother 2: Such a funnnyyy movie no?

    Mother 1: What a nice idea… Thallaivar looks so cute…

    Kid 1: Amma, u know my Robot comes fllllaaaaayyyyying laaikkkeeee thhheeeesss

    Kid 2: Mama, mine also comes flying…

    Mother 1: Aish looks so lovely no?

    Mother 2: She looks so nice in sky blue…

    Teenager 1 to teenager 2: And when that song was going on, he looked back at me… o my… I was so scared.. luckily dad was sleeping…

    Teenager 2: Really? That guy in the front row, no? The leather jacket.

    Teenager 1: Noooo! That one, see? Yellow T-shirt… no, no! Don’t look stupid!

    Teenager 2: You know, in the last scene when that snake came, I jumped up like aaaaaaaiiieeeee

    Teenager 1: Me too.. I was so scared my!

    Teenager 2: You know it can happen really. Imagine if it happens. Oh!

    Teenager 1: Ofcourse it will happen! Just wait for some time. You know I found a web site. It says the design is ready. They are making a model in Japan.

    Teenager 2: Really! How cute. I’ll tell my dad to buy one.

    Teenager 1: Very costly you know. 10,000 dollars.

    Teenager 2: No problem. My dad will buy anything for me.

    Teenager 1: I didn’t like Aish dress. You saw the dress? awwwkkkk

    Teenager 2: Yeah, so oldy no?

    Father 1 to father 2: Real fast movie. Shankar has done a great job.

    Father 2: Cost 2 billion rupees I heard!

    Father 1: About 40 million dollars! For a regional movie!

    Father 2: Nowadays, it’s not regional. Rajini is international. They released 3000 prints.

    Father 1: Shankar should make a 3D.. like Avatar…

    Father 2: The casting was superb.

    Father 1: Graphics were amazing

    Father 2: What speed!

    Father 1: Must have recovered all cost in 3 days…

    Father 2: Yes. Where shall we go for dinner? Annapoorna?

    Mother 2: No, no. Lets go to Sravana Bhavan.

    Kid 1: Amma, I want Annapoorna!

    Kid 2: Sravana Bhavan…!!!!

    Mother 1: Sshhhh… ask appa..

    Father 1: Let’s go to Sravana Bhavan. We can park in my house.

    Kid 1: AMMMA, Annnnnnaaapooorrnaa!!!!!!!!!!

    And, life moved on. The two families lived happily ever after…

    I turned around to see the ticket counter closed. Obviously. Housefull.

    I bought tickets for an English movie playing in Cinema 2 and went in.

    🙂

  4. Sharmila,
    It must be the dawn of 11th Oct ‘2010 in India now….So….Would you mind conveying greetings and best wishes to someone on my behalf…!? I hope not…!
    Wish AB “A very Happy B’Day and many happy returns of the same for eternity”…(hope it would not be misunderstood and considered as a curse…haha..I would be the last person to do that…heh..heh..You know it…Right..!?)
    Thank you

    • MonaLisa – I am sure you could wish him too. Any special reason why I should be the agent here ? 🙂

      • Sharmila,
        I stopped posting on AB’s blog since I was abused and called names by his brigade of sycophants….If at all AB himself could’ve reprimanded me in his own style…but instead…exactly opposite happened…
        In my case he never bothered to get into the matter or stood beside like he did for many others.
        I saw many other names mentioned by him for various reasons..but for whatever reason he never found it necessary to mention mine for suggesting him the term “FmXt” which is however not a big deal or a deal at all…or it is not like I expected any recognition whatsoever….but if he did to others ..why not me…!? why such a partiality…!?
        I understand that even for parents all children are not alike…even though they claim to be fair equally to all children…yet they at least care not to be totally unfair to one and ignore completely.
        I am not a ‘Bad cookie’ or a ‘Black Sheep’ after all as mentioned by his Topsy turvy brigade of wizards…
        That’s all…..! But……
        If you feel like an agent…! well..then…! I am sorry for that…! It’s OK…! I am sure he will be visiting your blog time to time….! Hope he will read my post on your blog…

      • MonaLisa – I was joking when I said agent, come on, you should know me better by now and after all these posts 🙂 In fact I thought you were not serious when you wanted me to wish him. I had no idea about the abuse against you. I barely read any comments on his blog and missed this completely. If you wish me to send him a message I will. But, if I were you I would still continue voicing my opinions on his space unless he asks me not to. Why should I stop posting on his blog just because certain people are hostile? That blog is AB’s and nobody else’s. So long as we respect the owner, why bother about what the rest there say? I had no idea you were the one who suggested FMXT either. That is really nice to know now.

    • Message despatched.

  5. ADULATION on Rajnikanth…

    It’s there in the exaggerated mannerisms, chutzpah, machismo and swagger.
    My heat is not doused by the waters of the Atlantic / Let your maiden feast satiate my flaming desire / ‘Cause I’m no regular male / But an uber being with a silicon lion’s appetite

    —from the song Arima Arima in the film Endhiran

    Once in Madras, we were a group of giggling teens heaped on the floor mat, ogling Kamal Haasan kiss a heroine on video. My mother popped into the room uninvited, and in her best killjoy voice pronounced her verdict: “The pretty boy tries so hard; not manly, like Rajini.”

    Twenty years since, at a posh multiplex in Gurgaon, Endhiran is playing. Our hero looks antiseptic, with a pencilled goatee and cool shirts, as a sophisticated scientist from Carnegie Melon.

    There is an uneasy silence as this hi-tech fantasy-meets-Chennai-kitsch is played out on screen. And suddenly, the chilly quiet of the cinema erupts with male cries. Thighs are slapped, tongues are smacked, and wolf whistles pierce the air when Rajinikanth aka Robot, 60 and going strong, leers at Bollywood’s first bahu in his best villain voice and proceeds to describe their momentous consummation and detail how the first human-robot baby would be made. “Come baby, give me a beautiful kiss,” he growls lustily. I giggle, feeling like a teen again.

    In a feminist world, Rajinikanth’s roaring masculine populism would be unacceptable and dismissed as absurd. At a time when heroes go about preening and selling fairness cream and using botox in Bollywood, a 60-year-old man’s self deprecating joke on his baldness that mocks the incongruity of his image as Adonis-rolled-into-Apollo begs a response. How a guy with gawky limbs, bushy toupees and a strange accent is a sporting and war deity of hegemonic masculinity for Tamils can be answered best only in the realm of his fans’ imagination.

    A Rajinikanth caper salutes the cult of masculinity as spectacle. It’s there in the exaggerated mannerisms, chutzpah, machismo and swagger. It’s a paean to the male alter ego that seeks to overwhelm and conquer. Rajinikanth’s sexual persona lends itself to idolatry of the masculine, a celebration of earthly urges. Dissident feminists like Camille Paglia said that such base impulses resist being tamed by evolution and political correctness. It holds good for Rajini as well. He remains a Dravidian Dionysian emblem—ecstatic, potent and virile.

    It goes without saying that much of it is reflected in his fans’ desire to watch their hero act out their wildest fantasies. Affection and fondness for the female is invariably Oedipal in a Rajinikanth movie. “I worship the female as a mother deity,” he says in his films. His domestic affection for a comely maiden is of the canoodling type with comic effect, never of the post-modern uxorious variety. When he wants to play The Guy, he is a sexual predator, a virile gladiator.

    The woman in his monster hits always kowtows to his sexual heroism. “All I need is to look at you and you’d be having babies in ten months,” he declares in Manithan, swinging a plump Punjabi heroine in his arms; when the heroine wants to play his boss in Mannan, he tells her that “no woman conquered him” in his “history”; and when a voluptuous dancer expresses desire for him in Padaiyappa, he rejects her for her candour.

    It’s a formula that works to keep the idea of Rajini’s sexual impetus represented in various avatars, much like his mannerisms. He does the same as Robot when he raps with Aishwarya Rai, promising to “go places where Google searches can’t reach”. Rajini’s sexual profile is part of the larger patriarchal profile that his fans enjoy. This is evident while watching a Rajini caper at the cinema as his audience partakes of the energy. The heroine is taunted with boos if she dares give him a putdown on screen; she’s threatened if she gives him the hoof in the romance department. Peace reigns and heckles subside only once the heroine collapses before the wicked delights only Rajini can provide.

    This is so even in Endhiran. The customary catcalls that accompany the heroine in a Rajini starrer greet Aishwarya Rai too. A lone voice calls out to her cheekily from the dark as she tears up while he gives her the brush off: “Oye, mami, taste this thunder!” She’s playing girlfriend to the nerdy scientist, and as part of their making-up routine, coyly kisses him on the cheek: “What’s this? Like a postman licking a stamp? I’ve had better,” he says insolently, and the crowd titters. The hall quietens only after Rajini gets a song and on-screen smacker that befits their hero’s stature.

    Rajinikanth’s sexual audacity, like that of bad boy rock stars, has been nurtured by his performances over the years. A bit like the myth that keeps James Bond alive in British popular culture as a lethal male symbol, capable of unbridled sexuality even if the average bloke by the Bond Street pub is into self deprecating despair over making a move with the opposite sex.

    Rajinikanth’s heterosexual innuendo is a stylised representation that his fans want him to play out on screen. It may be a mass media portrayal, but Rajini’s hardboiled machismo resonates well with his audiences. Whether it’s robotic or real doesn’t matter. For his Tamil fans from Amingikarai to Atlanta, he is celebrated as the primal deity of love and war. He is the original heat.

  6. Sharmila,

    Right day to remember 2 persons whose birthday falls on today’s date 11 October.

    One was Jayaprakash Narayan, a freedom fighter and Gandhian, and the only one who was able to get the Gandhi dynasty out of the Indian parliament! But he is dead now. And even forgotten by his own children.

    The second is ‘The legend of the Angry Young Man’ ‘The Godfather of Indian Cinema’ ‘The One Man Industry’ ‘The Don’ ‘The Sarkar’ ‘The deity of the underworld and the underdog’ ‘The Lawaris’ ‘The Phenomenon’ Amitabh Bachchan

    In the days of AB’s superstardom, there were single screen theatres. The Angry Young Man persona did not have a great female following. Those type of movies, like Deewar, Don, Hera Pheri, Lawaris, Muqaddar ka Sikander etc were packed with street fighters, pick-pockets, door-to-door salemen and the slumdogs.

    The cinema halls had around 700 seats and after each show one could see 700 Amitabh Bachchans coming out of the door – quiet, brooding and seething with controlled anger.

    The ’60s and ’70s were days of seeking inspiration from movies and the characters that the actors portrayed.

    Today, we cannot come out of an Aladdin and try to feel like a genie. Sho Shtupid!

    Here is my way of remembering that era:

    Remembering ‘The legend of the Angry Young Man’ – Scene 1:

  7. Reader – Fantastic stuff on AB, brilliant!!

  8. And this one for AB –

    The Golden Mane…
    Time stands still for none but him
    Embracing time tightly, not succumbing to it’ whim
    Rests his laurels in it’s summer shade.
    He remains the one that God hath made.
    Forever he remains the favoured one
    To all he remains the glorious one.
    Serendipity lies beneath
    Through his work he doth bequeath.
    Never a whimper, never a cloud
    Of dust and storm a hundred fold.
    Riding the waves of love and adore
    Of victory, triumph, glory, galore.
    Lofty attempts to snatch and glare
    Left ‘em blind in misery and bare.
    Stricken with fear a hasty retreat
    Fate, she spelled their hasty defeat.
    Standing tall, his actions speak
    Thousand words, renders us meek.
    Over yonder ,he defeats them again
    Embodying victory, in golden mane.

  9. “The Legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 2:

  10. “The Legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 3

  11. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 4

  12. The Last Indian Superstar – Lakshmi Chaudhary

    Makes a fine read

    The media hullabaloo surrounding a new Rajinikanth movie inevitably follows the same pattern. Endhiran, aka Robot, is no different. Breathless paeans to his awesome star power? Check. Wide-eyed enumeration of his brand value and net worth? De rigeur bemusement at his balding, dark-skinned appeal? Snickering stories of adoring fans acting suitably deranged? Check, check, check. The media hype surrounding Rajinikanth is every bit as phenomenal as the man himself. Yet much of it dances around the obvious: what is the great secret of his inexplicable allure? And carefully ignores the inconvenient: Rajinikanth may well be our last true superstar.

    On the cover of Rajinikanth’s sole biography, The Name is Rajinikanth, is a giant mugshot of the man sporting a blond wig and pair of enormous sunglasses. He looks, to my untutored eye, ridiculous. Yet when I show it to my maid, Mary, she squeals in delight: “Suparr! Akka, sooo suparr!” We stare at each other across a vast gulf of incomprehension, which in online discussions leads to the inevitable recriminations. Writers offer various theories—or debunk the same—to explain the mystery. Outraged admirers dare disrespectful journalists to visit Chennai to be torn limb to limb. Meanwhile, the Rajini juggernaut rolls along, impervious, unstoppable, and, as ever, inscrutable.

    The reasons offered by fans for the magical mystery of Rajini-mania are sound, but for the most part unsatisfactory. Mary cites his ‘nallu swabhavam’ (good character), a reason also touted by my multinational exec brother in Chennai and the suave, young, New York-educated chef of a chi-chi restaurant. Okay, so he’s a good guy, perhaps legendarily so, but nice is nice, and it doth not a demigod make. The other favoured explanation belabours his indomitable style. Everything is cool about our Rajini, from his aerobic cigarettes to the bullet-spitting tip of his robotic forefinger. But style can only take a star so far. Just ask Mithun Chakraborty or Rajini-wannabe Vijayakanth, neither of whom ascended to the shtyle maanan’s stratospheric heights.

    To unravel Rajinikanth’s tautological fabulousness, it’s perhaps best to begin at the beginning—that is, the 1950s—when the post-Independence Tamil film industry is the duopoly of two megastars, Shivaji Ganesan and MGR. The latter, a swashbuckling low-caste saviour, is the creation of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, which scripts, produces and finances movies as a highly effective form of propaganda. “MGR is the explicitly political hero and Shivaji the more lovable middle class hero. Each has his own appeal, and offers a useful contrast to the other,” says film critic Gopalan Ravindran. By the 1970s, however, industry insiders are scrambling for replacements.

    Enter a young ex-bus conductor named Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, who makes an on-screen splash as a charismatic villain pitted against a rising Kamal Haasan in Apoorva Ragangal (1975). Kamal, with his histrionic repertoire and middle class background, is a cinch for the Shivaji spot. Rajini is left to fill the gargantuan shoes available to him, those of the god-like MGR. To replace him—no mean feat—the newcomer has to recreate the swaggering underclass machismo and mesmerising screen presence, but now repackaged to suit the needs of a disillusioned post-Emergency audience. His acting prowess or range is irrelevant to the task at hand. Rajini, much like Amitabh Bachchan up north, takes his success where he finds it: as a brooding angry young man acting out a populist revenge fantasy. And in a neat dovetailing of their parallel trajectories, Rajinikanth will cement his superstar status in 1980 with Billa, a remake of Bachchan’s megahit Don.

    “Celebrity is created in the nexus between the individual’s talent and ambition, the film industry’s needs, and the fans who consume this politics of celebrity-making,” says Ravindran.

    Rajinikanth is the right man in the right place at the right time—and his entire career will be defined by that moment of serendipity. It’s no coincidence that Rajinikanth has since inherited MGR’s old fan nickname, Thalaivar (leader), albeit without the political baggage. In an important sense, he is predetermined to be an icon of divine populism, the shape of his celebrity defined by the space he is tasked to fill.

    Much is made of the religious fervour Rajini inspires. Images of his low-caste devotees performing milk abhishekam (consecration) of his giant cut-outs, often presented as damning evidence of Tamilian insanity. To be fair, Tamils have a long, rich tradition of hero worship, dating back to the second century AD. The countryside is dotted with thousands of natu kal (hero stones) that memorialise those who sacrificed their lives to protect the village. Just as common are shrines to warrior gods, gigantic mustachioed figures, armed with an axe or a sword, sitting astride a horse. “Great stars like MGR, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan take the place of the folk deities of yesteryears. These folk heroes are very human—they drink, they kill, they eat meat. But they are also gods. So all the rituals related to a folk hero are now performed for the star,” observes film historian Theodore Bhaskaran.

    Rajini’s audience doesn’t confuse him with Ayyanar or Madurai Veeran. But to the fan bathing his image in milk or beer, village heroes, warrior gods and superstars exist in the same continuum of folk tradition. The fantastic synthesis of the human and divine is ever-present in our folk narratives: of gods who disguise themselves as men, and mere mortals who attain sacred powers. It’s the reason why we don’t need to invent cartoon superheroes like Superman or Batman. Our most beloved celluloid heroes are ordinary men with extraordinary qualities; they possess the rare ability to be at once familiar and exceptional, and always authentic. “Rajinikanth always plays roles of ordinary people who discover there is something extraordinary about them. There’s a rooted commitment to ordinary life in all his movies,” says cultural anthropologist Anand Pandian. Or as sociologist Shiv Visvanathan puts it, “The miracle of Rajinikanth is that he’s the guy next door who could be the god next door.”

    Rajinikanth is a quintessentially Tamil hero, and much of his awesome star power is rooted in a local narrative of populist heroism—a quality most often used to dismiss him as a ‘Madrasi’ icon. This ‘rootedness’, however, is a basic requirement for all superstars. A cinematic demigod must embody some important cultural category of divinity. Back when Bollywood was merely the Hindi film industry, Amitabh Bachchan attained celestial heights with Deewar and Zanjeer playing the celluloid avatar of Karna, betrayed by societal norms, filled with righteous moral anger, and caught on the wrong side of the battle between good and evil. At his peak, Amitabh Bachchan was a coolie, smuggler, village yokel, but also an avenging warrior god, his divinity conveyed by his commanding height, voice and presence. He embodied a heroic archetype instantly familiar to any village kid in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. There are many successful stars, some wealthier than others, but as Visvanathan argues, the difference between material success and celestial status is “the ability to tap into deeper, more primordial narratives in an immediate, intuitive, proletarian sense”. Our greatest superstars become folk heroes, and the most successful movies attain the enduring power of folklore.

    In a TV debate titled Battle of the Superstars, the anchor framed the discussion in the following terms: “One, a giant star in Tamil Nadu, whose films make his fans go crazy, the other perhaps the biggest superstar ever seen in India—Amitabh Bachchan. Today’s top brand is known as the Shahenshah of Bollywood, and has perhaps turned his entire family into one huge saleable brand.” The comparison, while unfair, is also illuminating: Rajini has remained a “giant star” while Bachchan is now a “brand”. In other words, Bachchan is no longer a hero in any meaningful sense. Asked about Rajini-mania in a recent interview, Bachchan said, “Stars in the South have such an extreme fan following. I really think it is the nature of those fans.” Long forgotten are his own glory days when people felt so personally connected to him that they offered to sacrifice their arm or leg to save his life.

    The Indian superhero is by definition populist: our gods take human form to battle evil and rescue the oppressed, or at least affirm their worth. To be a celluloid deity, an actor’s on-screen and off-screen performances must mesh seamlessly into a singular image of heroic divinity. Bachchan ruled supreme as long as his off-screen persona—long kept under wraps thanks to his relentless feuding with the press—remained in the background. His decision to enter politics as a close friend of the ruling Gandhi dynasty proved to be his downfall. Implicated in the Bofors corruption scandal, his upper class connections became impossible to ignore. His on-screen legitimacy declined precipitously, and his 1988 return to acting ended in a string of resounding flops. Despite his various comebacks, Bachchan has never recaptured that open-hearted adulation he once inspired. Stripped of his on-screen populism, his lofty reserve smacks increasingly of arrogance. Or as a once loyal fan puts it, “Who does he think he is, Bheeshma Pitamaha?”

    Rajinikanth, in comparison, has remained Rajini. Every little known fact of his real world life feeds perfectly into his public image—his lowly roots, miraculous rise to extraordinary success, conquest of upper-caste echelons of Chennai, reputation for charity, preoccupation with spirituality, and above all, his legendary humility. Contrived or not, in each of his public appearances, Rajini exudes a matter-of-fact intimacy. With his balding head, grey hair, cotton kurta, and insouciant lack of affectation, he may well be the genial old man you run into at the corner paan shop.

    “Rajini looks more real, more authentic, more possible than any other star. One thing he creates when he speaks is a sense of friendship, a real connection with the viewer,” observes Visvanathan. “And yet that ordinariness itself is a miracle. He doesn’t need to project a divine aura. He’s made simplicity divine.”

    A young man standing in line for Endhiran tells me, “It’s not about the movie, it’s not about the story, it’s about Him.” The noise in the Bangalore theatre rises to a crescendo as the camera pans toward its first glimpse of Rajinikanth’s face. He’s sporting a shaggy beard and glasses, and jabbing with a screwdriver at a mechanical robot. Yet the crowd goes wild. It’s Him! No present-day Bollywood star commands that level of excitement by his mere presence, either in Bangalore or Lucknow. Like Amitabh Bachchan, they are no longer heroes but brands that are marketed to a multiplex audience looking for a bit of slick entertainment to go with their big bag of popcorn.

    In Bollywood and the national media that covers it, the term ‘superstar’ has become synonymous with market value. Back in 2007, Shah Rukh Khan proved he’s a bigger star than Amitabh Bachchan simply because he was paid far more to host Kaun Banega Crorepati. That he subsequently failed to connect with a mass audience barely dented his image. Who cares as long as he’s making the big bucks elsewhere? Khan is a superstar because he is very, very rich. Endless endorsement deals increase his net worth and bolster that ultimate marketing goal: ubiquity. It’s why our latest crop of stars incessantly tweet, blog and preen for the cameras to remain in the public eye.

    Khan’s most recent PR coup is a daily television series showcasing his uber-wealthy lifestyle. Yet, the images of SRK’s lavish digs don’t undermine his appeal because he is a brand, and brands are aspirational. When a bleached Shah Rukh Khan hawks Fair & Handsome for men, he’s saying: you too can look as fabulous as me. Rajini, on the other hand, mocks his own darkness by slathering whitening cream on his face in an absurd attempt to get the girl, as he sings, “I had a dark complexion then/ Now I am awesomely white!” Heroes don’t aspire, they affirm their own worth, and by extension the worth of those who identify with them. Rajini, unsurprisingly, has never endorsed a single product, and is notoriously selective in his media appearances. He didn’t participate in the marketing blitz for Endhiran, leaving his Bollywood counterpart, Aishwarya Rai, to dutifully sing his praises in his absence.

    The only product Rajini sells is himself, and he’s very good at it. Noting his rank as the second highest paid actor in Asia, business newspaper Mint observed, ‘Much of the money that Rajinikanth and his films make is earned in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Unlike with Chan, there are no dollar paycheques, unlike with Karan Johar, there are as yet no large NRI audiences, though this is changing. Instead, the money is earned in small South Indian theatres, where millions pay as little as Rs 10 to watch and rewatch his movies. Upon this humble, broad base has a fortune been built.’

    Here then is the true mystery that bewilders journalists sitting in Delhi and Mumbai: how can such a downmarket brand be such a big superstar? Where is the glitzy designer packaging, NRI appeal and high-value endorsements, the required accoutrements of true star power? The idea that someone can become a celluloid god by mere virtue of a mass adoring audience now seems astonishing.

    In a revealing summation of Amitabh Bachchan’s latest incarnation, film critic Rachel Dwyer writes, ‘The recent phase of Bachchan’s career has occurred in parallel with a wider cultural reassessment of Indian cinema, long loved by its fans but viewed by the elite as an embarrassment, to being recognised internationally as the only global cinema after Hollywood, and as India’s major form of soft power…. Amitabh Bachchan, the senior statesman of Hindi cinema, is the only individual who can fill the role as brand ambassador for the new India on the world stage where his dignity and cosmopolitan outlook are universally admired.’ The new Bachchan caters to those mortified elites and middle class aspirants who dream of joining their ranks. This Big B wears designer suits, recites poetry in Paris, and does a Dustin Hoffman in Paa, a far cry from the old ‘embarrassing’ Amitji who dressed up in drag and played to the front stalls.

    The Bollywood star today is a multiplex hero who represents an aspirational version of Indianness. Behold the sophisticated, cosmopolitan, global Indian! Global and therefore also generic, stripped of all cultural identifiers except a vaguely Punjabi affect and routine homilies about Indian pride. He carries no sense of ‘place’, and neither do his movies, much like the sanitised malls they play in. Bollywood’s notion of Indianness is every bit as derivative and manufactured as its name; an identity created to match some imagined Western criteria of ‘cool’. It’s the fatal consequence of the industry’s desire to outgrow its parochial Hindi belt roots. The reality is that the new Bollywood superstar—be it SRK or AB 3.0—is an artificial PR construct with no real organic connection to the India he claims to represent; that is, the vast expanse that lies outside the urban multiplex beltway.

    Rajini is cocooned from the ‘multiplex effect’ precisely because he works in Tamil cinema, which is made of, for and by Tamilians, and aimed at the broadest possible regional audience. For all its Hollywood special effects, Endhiran is located almost entirely in Chennai, and has all the markers of a signature Shankar flick. This typical Tamil movie is now being praised by critics as an Indian cinematic triumph.

    The irony, of course, is that a number of Rajini fans are disappointed despite all the Hollywood cred. Those acrobatic feats aren’t quite as thrilling when performed by a robot, and when unaccompanied by his trademark one-liners. “It was very good, but it wasn’t a Rajini movie,” says a slightly crestfallen fan on his way out of a hall.

    The rest of India may be jumping on the Rajini bandwagon, but the Tamil industry is already moving on, toward a darker, ethno-realist genre. Rajinikanth’s heir, if he exists, may well be Salman Khan if Bollywood draws the right lesson from the spectacular success of Dabangg. The retro masala flick revived a number of old Hindi film tropes, including an unashamedly rustic hero named Chulbul Pandey, snappy dialogue and stylised fight scenes—and earned Khan his new moniker: ‘Bollywood’s answer to Rajinikanth.’ The movie did well across all markets, from malls in Mumbai to villages in Bihar, evoking a wave of nostalgia among moviegoers and critics alike. Nostalgia for a rooted authenticity that the faux sophistication of Karan Johar knock-offs can never possess. Yes, our folk heroes may be lewd, crude and over-the-top, but they are also who we are, exuberantly so. Just like Rajinikanth.

  13. Interesting to note the comparisons here between Rajni and AB. She calls Rajni a star and AB a brand. Rajni has shied away from endorsements and makes one movie every few years. AB has scattered his seeds of art far and wide, from endorsements to televisions to the ramp and the celluloid. I see AB as more versatile than Rajni whilst still maintaining his star appeal, something that Rajni has been unable to do. It is pointless comparing Rajni and AB, they are chalk and cheese, men of merit and Kings in their respective domain. Both are Superstars now in their 60s, but AB has the edge when it comes to acting and Rajni has the edge when it comes to superstardom.

  14. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 5

  15. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 6

  16. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 7

  17. “The legend of the Angry Young Man”: The Music of the Angry Young Man

  18. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 9

  19. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 10

  20. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 11

  21. “The legend of Angry Man” Scene 12

  22. “The legend of the ANgry Young Man” Scene 13

  23. A legend is forever!

    “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 14 –

    • Thank you for all the video links Reader. Every one is a gem. I quite did not like the bit where Jamal jumps in poo for AB’s autograph though in SDM…

      • Sharmila,

        There are two types of fans. Those who are on the edge, and those who are over the edge.

        AB’s fans in Mumbai, at least those I know, can kill or die for AB! Jumping in poo tanks is nothing!

        🙂

      • Lol. Yes, I agree, but I thought it was a bit “over” the top…

  24. Aishwarya Says:

    Sharmila,

    A fabulous review from you and brilliant add-ons from other sources. ‘Adulation on Rajnikanth’ echoes my sentiments to a T.

    I couldnt understand or speak Tamil when I joined Med College at TN. I was an NRI Mallu who thrived on Hindi movies. And so, my ragging phase of 3 months was extended to 6 months, until I SING in Tamil! Ragging, apart from other things, involved wearing non-match blouses and in-skirts with saris, with oiled plaits and bright ribbons! Uggh! I needed to find a way out – FAST! So I mugged up a song from the first audio cassette I could lay my hands on, mustered all my courage and marched up to the mess hall one Sunday morning where my seniors sat enjoying hot masala dosas and Bru coffee. I sang ‘Maasi maasam’ from ‘Dharma Durai’. There was silence when the song ended, and after a moment… thunderous applause, wolf whistles, and cheers! I didnt know what I had done right, but needless to say, my ragging was officially over! I was welcomed with open arms into the Tamil ‘elite’ inner circle. I was in! Yippeee!!! My friends later enlightened me that it was because I had sung a RAJNI song! I have since been grateful to Rajni and been an ardent fan. My saviour! My invisible knight in shiny armor! 🙂

    I am going to watch ‘Endhiran’ just to see Rajni play the baddie. ‘Nice’ men can be boring. I prefer bad boys! Rajni’s roguishness is sinfully attractive. Romancing him would be like playing with fire, skirting danger – adventurous, thrilling – living life on-the-edge. His role as a villain in ’16 Vayathinile’ is unforgettable. With his style, mannerisms and punch lines, Rajni can turn the heat on like none other.

    Rajni is earthy, rustic, and raw. He’s real. In this gaudy world, Rajni carries his simplicity with elan and panache. Rajni is not a celebrity. He is the God of South Indian Cinema. And Gods are never compared.

    • Thanks Aish and more so what a wonderful Rajni story you have shared with us. Yes, Rajni does the trick. The only way into the hearts and minds of tamil people is via Rajnikanth and Idli Sambhar. Undoubtedly, Rajni has the edge. Thanks for the video link though. I loved it, Let me post a favorite melody from the 80’s of Rajnis in a bit here.

    • Haha…ha….Aishwarya,
      Loved your ragging story and your efforts to get out of it successfully asap. Trying to visualise though how would have you been looking like with that kind of dressing and oily plaits with colorful ribbons…. :))
      How amazing is it that the audience of south relates more with a non- south Indian actor more than other actors from their region. May be Rajni resembles more to the southern look and echo that typical southern male psych(probably female psych too) than any other star-actor there.
      Bit surprised to know your aversion for good-gentle men and longing for Baddies… 🙂
      Is it just limited to on screen men or off too..!? 🙂

      • Aishwarya Says:

        OMG…MonaLisa, it was awful! Lavender sari, red blouse, yellow in-skirt, pink ribbons…blue sari, maroon blouse, green in-skirt, violet ribbons…AND oiled plaits!! At 17, many of us didnt know how to wear the sari, so there was always a fear it would come off any minute! But it was good training…I learnt to wear a sari and speak Tamil in record time! Lol…

        MGR was a Malayali. Bollywood’s dream girl, Hema Malini, is a Tamilian. Rajni is Marathi. I guess its not about the physical appearance alone. Perhaps its about being in the right place at the right time, as mentioned in an article above. What do you think?

        Re the baddies…off screen too…! ‘Gentlle’ is an adjective for deers and rabbits! 😛

      • Aish – Never seen you but you paint a very pretty picture I say…

      • Hahaha…Aishwarya,
        Whoa…that sounds so awfully distasteful kind of dressing….! brought tears to my eyes(laughing). 🙂
        Omg..! can’t think of such kind of punishment(ragging) for so long…
        Glad you found your way out soon…
        You are right about timing…! To be present at right place at right time makes one’s
        life otherwise there are/must be many…more talented and good looking than them are out there…
        luck plays its role too. OR we see no mediocrity around in abundance… 🙂
        About baddies….well…! Lions and Tigers can be tamed these days and displayed like pet dogs in a circus…. :))
        What say…!?

      • Haha…fashion disaster we were! And we could never hide from the seniors…we were noticed from a mile away…a moving riot of colors! I must add here that I have never ragged a single junior…they were away from home and I never wanted them to feel unwelcome or unloved for a moment…

        ‘Baddie’ like the characters played by AB – angry young man -brave, bold, righteous, protective… NOT the Gulshan Grover ‘bad man’. 🙂

        MonaLisa, I was extremely moved by your reply to Sharmila on why you stopped blogging at AB’s… I am not a regular there for similar reasons and can understand how you feel…
        I was once abused there left, right and center (!) and was feeling terrible. I remember coming here and leaving a comment on a post about Rekha. I didnt know Sharmila well then and was worried if she would mind me commenting. I will never forget her warm welcome and her reply…’Hi Aish, Did your daughter’s play go well?’ My eyes well up even now…I will always remain grateful for her support.

        And so I think, so what if we lost the Kohinoor to the British. Thats just a stone! Its friends like you all who are the real Kohinoors.:)

      • Your last sentence is priceless.. 🙂 Thank you.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Treasured… 🙂

      • Aishwarya,
        Very touchy it is…the way you felt and described about Sharmila’s response to your post….
        Well…! That’s what I like the most about space like this where you feel that someone is there on the other side listening to you, reading your thoughts and responding to it. Her responses make it sure that we are not talking to some empty space and whatever one expresses doesn’t end up into oblivion.
        You sound like more than a Diamond Merchant who values ‘friends’-unknown individuals from all over or shall I say ‘different places’,to whom you may or may not see in person ever or meet with in person in this life… over ‘The Kohinoor’…(The prettiest and and costliest stone now/ever..probably) I had an opportunity to see the one “Hope Diamond” (the one that was found from Kollur mine-India, found to be cursed to its owners) and some other Rare Gems in “Smithsonian Museum of Natural History” At D C.
        The ‘Baddies’ (brave,bold,righteous,protective)are just characters on screen….hard to find in real life…even though who played those characters might not be able to fulfill those requirements fully …
        If you find anyone in real… they definitely will fall into the category of ‘Outlaws’…..
        Hmmm……Is that the reason those onscreen characters are most liked,loved and worshipped…!? I wonder…!
        Thank you for understanding my point…never knew you have been victimized too…

      • You Ladies are extremely flattering, I am growing horns like Bush now..need to head back to Macau now.

  25. Aishwarya Says:

    Sharmila,

    A dedication to the superstar. I love ALL his songs. But this combo of Rajni-Sridevi, Ilaiyaraja, the singers and the lyrics is absolutely breathtaking! Makes me want to preen like Sridevi and croon like S.Janaki!:P

    • Great music..miss those golden years. What a sensational actor Sridevi was. Nobody quite like her and her pairing with both Rajni and Kamal right through the 70s and 80s was brilliant.

  26. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 15 – Street Smart Humor

  27. “The legend of the Angry Young Man” Scene 16

  28. “The legend of the ANgry Young Man” Scene 17, The bootlegger’s messiah

  29. Dear Sharmilla!

    We loved ittttt………..
    A first day first show at 7 am did not disappoint me or my 6 year old son. I happened to watch it at Escape the most elitist theatre in chennai and I expected the sassy savvy crowd b tightlipped to the usual histrionics but I was shocked……. The crowd hooted danced and became absolute ‘local’ when the thalaivar came on screen.
    We had friends who were visiting from Maduarai who are ardent fans and they got off the train at 5 am and were all ready at 6:30 .
    According to MS looking at Aish beauty even a tractor would come alive so no excuses to Robot loving her
    To cut the chase in all our Rajni movie so far nothing was impossible and it made all those pragmatic thinkers call it a fib but now as ROBOT nothin is impossible and was one helluva ride.
    Dot

    • Nan – Wow, super duper stuff. Thank you for sharing your experience, was actually waiting for it. Rajni is GOD. Lol. Aish is something, the tractor and the tyres too would come alive. Robot remains the biggest ride for not just the makers but for the Indian audience too. Dot.

  30. Finally I get to read your review. Loved it more than the previous post.
    Felt like it came from the kid that saw the movie. I become a kid whenever I watch a Rajni movie.

    • Ameen – I was very much the kid. I have not included the bit where i was jumping off my seat and clapping away like a monkey. Would have loved to see this in Chennai but grateful they at least showed it at this part of the world. It was undoubtedly house full. This was the third show, the previous two were shown in the last weekend.

    • Oh and thank you for liking the post… 🙂

  31. A favorite Rajni melody –

  32. This one is for Aish –

  33. and Reader – This one thankfully has subtitles..mediocre though..

    • Nice locale and music. Translation is okay except the comparison between Beetle-nut and Teakwood- which is which?

  34. I like the theme.

    Here is an expanision on the same.

  35. Is there any clip where Kamal, Rajini and AB are in the same frame?

  36. Muraliraja Says:

    I agree with you. Shankar has made sci-fi movie with mass appeal. Have you read KB’s letter to Gautham Menon for VTV? Try it. You may like it. BTW, Sometimes comments section in your blog is more interesting than the actual blog.

  37. The original. Sahir in His own words in His own voice…

    BTW, this urdu version has become a permanent fixture in our annual get-togethers in the company. Yours truly invariably gets a standing ovation on the last verse!

    • Reader – AB recited Kabhie Kabhie yesterday at the start of KBC. DId you see it? He then did the best monologues from Deewar and Agneepath, outstanding stuff. Even at 68, he was every bit the angry young man.

      • I didn’t see the KBC opening. I know AB recites the Hindi version of the poem which is also written by Sahir. AB’s voice make the words come alive!

        I know the urdu version by rote. Have done it many times on stage.

        I usually compere stage shows within the company and, as a previlege, get to recite Sahir when the backstage guys are still preparing for the next event.

        I begin with Kabhi Kabhi invariably followed by non-filmy sher-o-shayari like “Woh aaye ya na aaye idhar” and if there is time sometimes I sing one or two from his movies.

        The song on top demand is mostly “Main pal do ka shayar hun” from the same movie.

        I add a little flavor by reciting the unsung verse of the song that are AB’s opening lines in that film which goes like this:

        Kal nayi konkhale phutengi
        Kal naye phool muskayenge

        … … … Tomorrow new buds shall emerge
        … … … Tomorrow new flowers shall smile

        Aur naye ghaas ke naye farsh par
        Naye paon ithalanyenge

        … … … And on a new floor of fresh grass
        … … … New feet shall dance

        Woh mere beech nahin aaye
        Mayn unke beech mein kyun aaun

        … … … They did not come my way
        … … … Why should I come in their way?

        Unki subaho aur shaamo ka
        Mayn ek bhi lamha kyon paaon

        … … … Of their mornings and evenings
        … … … Why should I get even a moment?

        Mayn pal do pal ka shayar hun
        Pal do pal meri kahani hai

        … … … I am a moment’s poet
        … … … My story is for the moment

        Pal do pal meri hasti hai
        Pal do pal meri jawani hai

        … … … I am merely for this moment
        … … … My youth too is for the moment

        Sahir –

        This verse was not put to music. He let AB say recite it as a dialogue.

      • Sharmila,
        You are right…! even at 68- Did he not sound very hurt..!?
        Or is it just my imagination..!? eh…

  38. This is the rest of the song sans the verse translated above

  39. This is AB in 1991…

  40. AB in 1981 (10 years before Jumma Chumma)

  41. And the humble beginnings of all that… AB in 1973

  42. Aishwarya Says:

    Yet another AB blog…but funny they have spelt his name wrong!:0

    http://kbc.indiatimes.com/blog

  43. Muraliraja Says:

    Link to KB’s letter to Gautham Menon on VTV. http://tamilgetham.com/?p=990 or http://bit.ly/dxrQNh

  44. Sharmila,

    I am leaving for India in a couple of weeks. Was told last night that it is raining like never before!

    Hope there are no landslides of my hill. The whole house will go down!

    The district collector’s office had sent a geologist to do a random check. I spoke to him. He says no threat as yet. He has asked some Niligiris to be planted on the periphery to hold the soil. Shall do when I am there this time.

    This is how my place looks right now!

  45. Oops.. that song had too much passion…

    Perhaps more of this; simple and real

  46. I wish I could be there right now… but job is a job…

  47. And the nights that go with the season…

  48. In my case ofcourse, the reallity is something like this:

  49. The Reader at heart…

  50. That song “Sona Kare”, above, was my top favorite in school… I saw that movie ‘Paheli’ 3-4 times in one week… nothing like a childhood crush! 🙂

    Later, I realized why it is called a crush. This is why…

  51. So whats new? Doesn’t it happen to everyone?

  52. Perhaps I’ve come so far away from it all that I actually enjoy remembering stuff like this:

  53. Muraliraja Says:

    Seems so. Particularly after POI debacle!

  54. Compare the present home base to the 7 years I spent in this nightmare!!!

  55. New Delhi is not far behind Mumbai… the days when haadsa was made by Akbar in Mumbai, Delhi was rocking to Gurudas Mann…

    I preferred Gurudas Mann… attended his stage show at Lokhandwala in Andheri:

    • This song brings back many memories. Lokhandwala was a peaceful retreat in the late ’80s – only a few minutes drive to Juhu by the SV Road and a stone’s throw from the International Airport.

      The flats belonged mostly to film producers and financer who gave them to the actors coming from outside Mumbai. There were Mennakshi Sheshadri who later moved to a penthouse in Juhu – Vile Parle, Amrita Singh who later married Saif Ali Khan, Divya Bharti who married Nadiadwala and jumped off the fifth floor commtting suicide, and many others.

      I was a structural design engineer and overseeing the construction of buildings in the area.

      I remember Akshay Kumar was a teacher in one of the schools. He was a martial arts instructor.

      All was well till the place became infested with smugglers and goons running protection rackets for the underworld. The D-company and its off-shoots took over the place like nobodys business.

      Things went from bad to worse finally culminating in gang wars, encounters and shoot-outs.

      The film, “Shoot Out at Lokhandwala” was based on a true event that I witnessed from a distance. The movie showed less than 10% of the real mayhem. The entire area had become a war zone. The police were afraid they would be attacked from other buildings nearby and so left nothing to chance.

      In Mumbai, cinema is less dramatic than real life.

      A few weeks earlier, some films were shot on my site. Damini, starring Meenakshi Sheshadri and Rishi Kapoor was filmed on the structure that I was supervising. The scene was where Meenakshi takes a pick axe and threatens some gangsters who are pursuing her.

      I remember, we had a good laugh at the sillines of the whole idea.

      Then there was one called Shola aur Shabnam with Govinda, Gulshan Grover and Anupam Kher. They took 7 days to complete one shot of the hero jumping of the 3rd floor and some fight scenes on the sand mounds outside my make-shift office.

      The make-believe takes hours and days and weeks to make.

      During the real shoot-out there were no sets, no takes and retakes. Policemen and the gangsters holed in the building were firing at random. Any bullet could kill anyone. No one knew what weapons and arms the others were carrying. A grenade or a dynamite could have ripped the whole place apart.

      I watched safely from the roof of the lift well of my structure. It went on for 2 hours without any directors calling shots or cuts. A hundred odd policmen versus a handful of sharp shooters. There were no props and support staff. An injured man was really injured. A dead man was really dead.

      I was sad and shocked for a whole week after that.

      How could a place of so much life and fun suddenly become a battlefield? Why is peace always followed by a war?

      That was 1991. Its 2010 today. Life has moved on.

      • Wow. an eyewitness to the event,. Thanks for sharing. Must have been a harrowing experience!

      • Sharmila,

        I spent one week after that thinking about what it meant to me.

        Is life over-rated? Are middle-class values over-rated?

        Does now-and-here mean all there is?

        I brooded over these and other questions like these till I could not go on.

        I did not want to know why people do what they do. I was never interested in people. I wanted to see if I would do the same if I had the reason and the resources.

        I found the answers. I found my way.

        Just another episode from my experiments with truth…

      • I think life is overrated, If only we knew the art of living life.

  56. Aishwarya Says:

    Thats very interesting… Why are these on-screen characters so loved and worshipped? In real life, would they be outlaws??
    Or in-laws?! Kidding.:)

    Earlier, escapist cinema involved rags-to-riches stories, poor boy in love with rich girl, rich boy marrying poor girl (Maine Pyar Kiya), dying together (QSQT), reunited as ghosts (Ek duje ke liye), reunited in rebirth (Mehbooba), and of course taking the law into one’s own hands, avenge, revenge, killing villains, and finally reuniting with siblings with half a missing locket, half a tattoo or identical moles! Malayalam movies showed the Gulf boom – husbands coming back from the Gulf with suitcases full of shimmery clothes and perfumes! Now, escapism involves possessing superpowers – Krrish, Ra-One, Drona, Robot…

    In all this, how do we explain what we want to escape from and where to? Why should the hero be a warrior God and the woman a celestial maiden? Are we getting too religious in our views and expectations? Expecting divinity in humans? I dont know…

    • Aish – Escapist cinemas seem more realistic than ever before, so there appears very little to escape from. Hmmmm food for thought. Offside, could you recommend some good Mamooty movies for me? Thanks.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        ‘Yathra’ is my favorite Mammooty movie…I’ve watched it countless times. I’ll post some of the more recent good ones for you soon…

    • Incidentally even the Robot stories are true, watch this video – shankar is not too off the mark here..no escapism again 🙂

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Lol…agreed. The robot is good, but short and noisy! May be he could run errands or something. But I wont have my daughter bringing home a robot a few years from now introducing him as her boyfriend! A gap between realism and escapism suddenly feels good, I dont want to bridge it…:)

    • Thanks for the suggestion, will pick it up Aish…

  57. Another gem from Sahir… and why he is the real hero…

  58. Aishwarya Says:

    Then again, how can we not love them…AB-Jaya are simply amazing…

  59. I’m away for a few hours for the inauguration of a National Road Safety Campaign. It’ll be flagged off from the Carre Foure, and I’ll get to spend some time in the Borders outlet there. Been long since I’ve been to a bookshop here as I got some from Chamraj Peth, last time I was in B’lore.

    Back soon as I am… bye for now…

  60. We are baaaaaaaack…. The Poltergeist!

    I can never come out of a bookshop, especially Borders, without emptying my purse plus some debit on the card.

    Today’s visit was different mainly on account of the book that I found.

    This is the first time that I have found a book that is actually not sold in the USA although it was first published in 1920-22 in Michigan. It was banned and withdrawn immediately on print. Ironically, Borders are American booksellers yet forced to sell the book in this part of the world.

    The original papers somehow found their way to Malaysia and it was published in Selangor Malaysia in 2008 without any editing.

    It’s a 958 page omnibus. The title is: The Complete International Jew, The World’s Foremost Problem by Henry Ford Sr, Founder of the Ford Motor Company.

    Here is an extract: The page that made me buy the book

    [ Please Note: These words are written in 1922. A full 13 years before Germany triggered the World War II that resulted in the holocaust. ]

    Here goes:

    “Readers of our articles will see at once that we are not actuated by any kind of prejudice, except it may be a prejudice in favor of the principles which have made our civilisation.”

    “There had been observed in this country certain streams of influence which were causing a marked deterioration in our literature, amusements, and social conduct; business was departing from its old old-time substantial soundness; a general letting down of standards were felt everywhere.

    “It was not the robust coarseness of the white man, the rude indelicacy, say, of Shakespeare’s characters, but a nasty Orientalism which has insidiously affected every channel of expression – and to such an extent that it was time to challenge it.

    “The fact that these influences are all tracebale to one racial source is a fact to be reckoned with… Our work does not pretend to say the last word on the Jew in America. It says only the word which describes his present impress on this country.

    “When that impress is changed, the report can be changed.. Our opposition is only to ideas, false ideas, which are sapping the moral stamina of the people.

    “These ideas proceed from easily identified sources, they are promulgated by easily discoverable methods and they are controlled by mere exposure.”

    “When people learn to identify the source and nature of the influence swirling around them, it is sufficient. Let the American people understand that it is not natural degeneracy but calculated subversion that afflicts us, and they are safe.

    “The explanation is the cure. This work was taken up without personal motives. When we believed that American people could grasp the key, we let it rest for the time. Our enemies say that we began it for revenge and the we laid it down in fear.

    “Time will show that our critics (the Jews) are merely dealing in evasion because they dare not tackle the main question”

    Henry Ford Sr, The Complete International Jew, The World’s Foremost Problem, 1922

    Sharmila,

    How about a special page for Book Reviews on your blog?

    Just a thought. I would gladly contribute if you permit.

  61. Aishwarya Says:

    While we are on Rajni’s page, just one more fav melody. This song is so soothing…I listen to it whenever I feel low…which seems to be quite often… 🙂

  62. Amitabh Bachchan did a guest appearance in Shootout at Lokhandwala.

    Following clips are the only parts that are somewhere close to that day’s events. The nearest fact that is properly captured by the story-teller is that there are no heroes in real life – at least not in Mumbai.

    • The Commissioner (old man with a walrus moustache) in the second clip above, with whom Sanjay Dutt is shown talking on the phone is the real life ATS chief Khan who did the actual encounters. He was persuaded to do a bit role for assisting in filming the last shootout sequence.

    • Reader – Thanks, yes, I remember AB in this. What are your thoughts the movie though? It went on to become a hit.

    • Sharmila,

      The movie was a cheap flick in comparison to the ground reality.

      The area was under the Samarth Nagar policestation in Lokhandwala on the road that comes from 7 rasta to Versova. Versova was the epicenter of smuggled goods brought by boats from Dubai and Karachi. Also, a lot of arack shops brewed and distributed alcohol to the mainland Mumbai from Versova.

      The area and all the businesses were under the control of the D-Company.

      Maya Dolas and his friends, the guys who were shot in that encounter were local hindus who learnt the trade in D-company and deviated to form their own club. They began to collect extortion fees and provide protection to the film makers and construction industry from the D-co.

      After the shootout nothing changed. Only this particular team of gangsters was eliminated. Some time later there was a public attempt on Rakesh Roshan, Hrithik’s father. It was not an attempt to kill, just a message to the whole industry to fall in line, which eventually everyone did after Abu Salem took over. Abu Salem, as you know, is the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai blast case for which Sanjay Dutt spent some time in gaol and Subhash Ghai produced and released the film Khal Nayak on the same theme at the same time allegedly by co-incidence.

      It was generally accepted that Maya Dolas and Co were killed by the ATS Chief Khan and Co after getting information, details and a deal from D’s brother Anees in Dubai. The local media and Shiv Sena voiced it in their newspapers. The rumor was summarily dismissed by those in power then.

      In India these things are not entertainment and dropped from the movie – unlike the West where a story like the Day of the Jackal or Godfather actually presents some reality, be it from Sicily or downtown New York City.

  63. Aishwarya Says:

    There was this young man from Gujarat who won 25 lakhs on KBC yesterday. I felt he is a hero – not because of the money he won, but because he had brought his wife ‘to show her the world.’ In a community where women must wear purdahs and not venture out of their homes, this man had brought his wife all the way to a Mumbai studio and on National TV!

    Police officers, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics who dedicate their lives to save others’ lives are heroes, and so is the rescue team at Chile. What movies give us is perhaps reassurance, hope, and dreams. When life feels like a whirlpool or quicksand…that we didnt see coming or hadnt volunteered for…feel-good movies are a blessing. It makes us want to fight back, gasp and come up for air. Heroes do exist, we just never bother to sit up and take notice because they arent as goodlooking or flying through the air performing stunts.

    Sharmila, I hope you enjoy Yathra’s climax…its beautiful. The woolgatherer in me loves it… 🙂

  64. This is at the Siachen glacier..

    • The one ‘Dragon’ claims for..!? Sharmila..!?

      • Dragon claims for everything, even Arunachel Pradesh and going by their determination and strength they may get it too. Unfortunately, we lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to defense. Uprisings in Kashmir, Naxalites, Maoists are decoys.

    • Aishwarya Says:

      I recently read an article on Bachendri Pal’s expedition…the harsh weather, the difficulties faced, and how on reaching the summit, she touched her head to the ground in reverence and placed an image of Goddess Durga on the snow. To think that our jawans are braving out the cold at such a high altitude day after day…

      Watching KBC, I have begun to realize why I admire AB. AB is NOT in awe of the West. He doesnt crave to act in Hollywood movies. He doesnt crave the Oscar. He is polite and courteous to everything Western in a ‘love thy neighbor’ kind of tolerant manner. What he is proud of is his nation and his countrymen. Thats what sets him apart and makes him extraordinary – his true patriotism and appreciation of India and everything Indian. Very different from the ordinary man who considers everything West, Western, and white extraordinary. Petty we are in that sense,…we have a lot to learn from AB…

  65. Sharmila,
    If that happens….Map of India would be so different and Ugly…!

  66. Like ‘ Body without Head ‘ ….I guess..!

  67. Sharmila,

    Have you noticed one thing about the subjects on this page beginning from the post to the last comments? We move from meaning and significance, from the known to the unknown to the unknowable!!!

    I asked a friend once “What is poor my friend?”

    He said, “Poor is not having something.”

    “How much is poor?” I asked

    “Poor is the difference between what you have and what I have”

    My next question was, “Is a guest poor or a host?”

    “A guest” he said.

    “Why?’

    “A guest is received by the host”

    “Can a desire be rich or poor?” I asked

    “A desire is always poor”

    “Poorer than what?”

    “Poorer than effort”

    “So, who is right? Buddha, Christ, Ludwig Feuerbach, Marx or Nietzsche?”

    “I don’t know. Tell me.” He said with a smile, realizing that I was leading the conversation.

    “No, ” I said, “I will not tell. I will ask the questions. Like Socrates. You will answer it yourself. Okay?”

    “Okay” he said.

    “I am testing this style” I said, “So, keep answering till you cannot think about it anymore, okay?

    “Okay” he said

    “Is there anything like an infinite desire?”

    “Do you mean a desire for the infinite?”

    “There are two as you noticed. Desire for the infinite and a desire that is endless. I mean both. Do you think there is such a thing?”

    “Yes. The earth has so much to give us that the desire to use it’s resources can be considered infinite. And the wish to be eligible for using the earth can create a desire to be omnipresent like God. So, one is a desire for infinite and the other is an infinite desire.”

    “If effort is richer than a desire, the wish to feel eligible for using the earth becomes richer by effort. Is this effort desirable?”

    He smiled and said, “An effort is not an expression of a wish. It is the cause of the eligibility to enjoy life on earth. So, a desirable effort is a contradiction in terms if the effort and the person are the only existents. A desirable effort is valid only to an observer and that too in some context.”

    “For an observer, does the desire mean anything?”

    “Yes. It means hope.”

    “Why would an observer seek hope from the desires of another person?”

    “The desire and effort of the person is an expression of a will to live. The observer tests the strength of his own will to live by observing.”

    Now it was my turn to smile.

    I said, “You have answered all the questions yourself. You don’t need to read literature to search for answers. The infinite desire was Feurebach’s subject. Religion is the opium for the masses was Karl Marx’s opinion. ‘Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the Kingdom of God’ was the hope that Jesus Christ gave. And Nietzsche believed that the thought of God is a weakening of the will to live.”

    “What’s the point?” he asked

    “The point is that you have just proved all of them irrelevant to yourself”

    “Did I?”

    “Didn’t you?” I smiled.

    “But I respect all of them. They are great thinkers and spiritual masters.”

    “Then how come you did not say anything that they preached?”

    “I don’t know” he said.

    And we stopped at that…

    🙂

    • 🙂 Awesome…!

    • MonaLisa,

      Seems like you are the only one who read this.

      I was going to throw a tantrum like AB’s Angel if I had not got any response after taking all the trouble of writing and editing and grammar check and spellcheck!

      Something like this:

      Aaaaaarrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh….

      ab hum jaate hain… , > > <, <, ( I don’t know what these are called )

      🙂

      • Reader,
        Yeh…! poor me..! 🙂
        Saved your Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhh…but you said it anyway…! 🙂
        Don’t know what >,> <,<
        means or called either… lol….that makes two of us…haha….don't know what…though…! 🙂

    • I read it too. Your efforts have not gone in vain Reader. My perception of the desire for the infinite was a bit different though. I thought the “infinite” is God here. I strayed I guess.

      • You are right. Infininte Desire and Desire for Infinite arrive at the same limiting value i.e. God. Only they take several other stops in between like Education, Karma, Love, Marriage, Children and Tyaga.

        Desire is a six headed snake.

      • Speaking of which on a trekking trail that I do regularly we tend to spot snakes..

  68. The same conversation AB’s angry-young-man style

  69. Book Review

    Title: The Complete International Jew, The World’s Foremost Problem

    Originally Published by Henry Ford, Sr. Founder Ford Motor Company

    Published by: Manuscript Wisdom Resources, Selagor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia 2008

    ISBN: 978-983-43393-1-9

    Price: ~US$40.000

    ===

    History has a peculiar way of killing curiousity. Sometimes it takes our breath away; sometimes it gives the breath back. The Complete International Jew (CIJ) does just that.

    The CIJ was originally published in four volumes by Henry Ford Sr, between October 1920 and 1922.

    Curiously, it was suppressed in a “democractic, pluralist, lassez faire capitalist” America! Ford was forced to withdraw the book and all the copies that were in print.

    A full 80 years later the original papers were traced and found there way to a publisher in Malaysia. The facts are now public, at least for this side of the world.

    Unlike the nazi anti-jew rhetoric prior to WW II, this book of 1922 is not anti-jewish. It is a systematically researched treatise and every single event is justified with facts and evidences.

    Jews were the architects of bolshevism across Europe and the USSR. Germany’s defeat in World War I was orchestrated by the Jews both inside and outside Germany. Adolf Hitler’s inarticulate rhetoric does not make sense till one reads the evidence gathered by Henry Ford more than 15 years before Hitler began his crusade.

    “As early as the second year of the war (WW I), German Jews were preaching that Germany’s defeat was necessary to the rise of the proletariat, at which time Strobel declared, “I openly admit that a full victory of the country would not be in the interest of the Social Democrats”… The German Jew forgot loyalty to the country… and joined the outside Jews in accomplishing the collapse of Germany… to throw the country into such confusion as to permit them to seize control.”

    However, Germany is only a small geographical sample of Jewish intrusion, of a guest taking over a host’s house. Germany was an insignificant victim in comparison to the global web of Jewish economics that holds nations and governments like puppets on a chain.

    Is there anything called a Jewish World Program?

    What is the Jewish Question, really?

    “Here is a race whose entire period of national history saw them peasants on the land, whose ancient genius was spiritual rather than material, bucolic rather than commercial, yet today, when they have no country, no government, and are persecuted in one way or another everywhere they go, they are declared to be the principal though unofficial rulers of the earth. How does so strange a charge arise, and why do so many circumstances seem to justify it?”

    The answers are in this 958 page omnibus, duly supported with evidence and proof because assertion is not enough.

    For an unaffected reader, this book provides a deep and methodical insight into the source of power and clout that traders and merchants exercise in the economics of a nation – call them Jews or by any other name.

    In my case, it served both my needs – my curiousity to know what had transpired in those years and to know how they operate.

    • Recommendation: Buy as a collector’s copy. It is not a substitute for Adam Smith or John Maynard Keynes.

      Rating: ***

    • Fascinating, I thought you would mail this and I could post it up. Next time?

      Have you visited the Jewish Museum in NY? This is one exhibit that really amazed me…

      http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/QXotzzMjVbEEoMTPZWTUiA

      • Oops.. I should have mailed it to you. I forgot!

        Next time. Certainly. And surely a better one than this.

        From what I read, Jews are the world’s traders like our local grocery shop keepers.

    • I known one astute Jewish Russian pretty well. A brilliant individual on all accord. He went on to become one of Australian’s richest. Every penny mattered to this man, and I mean every cent literally. But, above all this he had foresight. This chap was only 32 when he broke into BRW rich list.

      • Sharmila,

        This must have been the fastest read in the recent times. 900+ in 48 hours! Read it on the go, in the bed, in the office, on the dining table, everywhere… non-stop!

        My speed today is much less than what it was in younger days. Earlier, I read at about 1 paperback page a minute. Mostly fiction. I recall finishing The Exorcist, Chase’s World in my pocket, Harold Robons’ Carpetbaggers and Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Niggers all in one day! Marathon obsessions of a teenager! 🙂

        These days I hardly do about 30 pages or less every hour. Perhaps because I read non-fiction now, and also I am often distracted by my own thinking in between the author’s ideas!

      • Thats really quick..I am still struggling with Shantharam. I read two pages a day..

      • Your own thinking per day will be more voluminous than this book.:)

      • Jews are like ‘sharks’…they rule US.

      • MonaLisa,

        I think sharks might object to your statement.

        I have not met any shark that makes me sign on dotted lines.

        🙂

  70. Sharmila, MonaLisa,

    Sorry I was away for the end of the weekend movie. Saw a good film called Aakrosh. Excellent presentation by Priyadarshan. The subject was honor killings and the village set-up.

    As usual Priyadarshan begins with a great deal of zeal and well researched storyboard. And as usual he loses the plot in the second half while stretching a bit for commercial value.

    But good movie. Paresh Rawal, Akshay Khanna and Ajay Devgan have done welll.

    MonaLisa,

    We have the equivalent of jews in India. The omnipresent Marwari. All merchandise and commodity supply chains begin and end with a Marwari – from retail outlets to dealerships to banking and inter-state trade. They manipulate money and control price indices across the whole country!

    This book gave me a very clear insight about the mechanisms that operate behind the screen – from American consumerism, the treasury, the roles of the WB and IMF and the FDI influence on local markets in India.

    The people, like machines, are an expense account. A liability that has to be fueled and serviced regularly to produce goods and profits for the investors. Anyone who feels that the government is serving the interests of the population is fairly and squarely mistaken.

    The economics of consumer nations is far different from those of producing industrial sweatshops.

    • Reader,
      What kind of honor is that that provokes someone to take other’s lives…!?
      It’s a dark side of that particular race,caste,custom or religion. Since when (and why) marriage has become business of others other than those Two involved in it, those Two who want to spend their lives with each other..!? How such horrendous act has not been challenged by Law..!?
      Thought ppl moved forward centuries after..
      It’s funny the director lost the grip of the subject in second half, however not a very new thing….in most of the movies either 1st or the 2nd half remains more interesting….like most relationships…hehehe….! 🙂
      There are very few movies that can catch your breath starting to end…!Ahh…! that falls into category of Exceptions…! Do they not…!?
      You might be having equivalents to Jews….not the Jews though….Here most lawyers/attorneys are Jews…Politicians-The Law makers are mostly Lawyers…now you see..how different the picture is..!? Who’s more deadly..!?

      • MonaLisa,

        Here is my personal take on the subject.

        Honor killing is a going subject in many parts of India. In South India the father or mother of the girl commits suicide; in the North the girl or the boy or both are killed.

        Some very basic beliefs have to be understood if anyone wants to see a change in the mind-sets that have cascaded through centuries of customs and rituals.

        Honor is an unwritten, personal law.

        Unlike some communities in Central Africa, men and women in India get married and live together in order to give the children the benefit of balanced parenting.

        This has been embedded in religion for about 2000 years.

        Before that there was the Gandharva marriage during Manu’s times when the couple simply stood in a temple and expressed love for each other. Shakuntala is a classic tale from that era.

        After Manu’s period, there was the swayamwara, when the girl chose her husband through some tests and ceremony. The dowry was paid by the groom to the girl’s father.

        Registered marriages came into the society around Chanakya’s period when he separated women by types.

        The dowry system reversed and the girl’s father started paying the dowry during the Moghul period when more and more girls were widowed by wars, and child marriages became risky for the girl.

        I do not support killing for honor or any other reason. I wouldn’t kill even a mosquito if I could save my skin with some mosquito repellant cream.

        But honor is an unwritten, personal law. It’s usually something that is pushed high up on the priority scale by a girl’s father.

        Daughters, today, must train their fathers that sex and single parenting has nothing to do with honor. We live in a new world order. People don’t even get married. They do not meet in temples. They meet in each other’s bed rooms.

        A man’s honor is no more in protecting his woman and children from invaders. That is so medieval.

        A woman’s honor is not in her virginity. That is a stone age myth!

        Honor has to be re-defined. And it cannot be done by the constitution or judiciary.

        Honor is an unwritten, personal law.

        Unfortunately, in yesterday’s movie, Priyadarshan missed all the above points. He stuck to the narratives and media gossip.

  71. Reader,
    lol….How could daughters teach their fathers..? Fathers need to learn themselves and change their beliefs with time.
    Laws are to be and can be amended time to time whether personal or no personal.
    Judiciary system definitely can play its role by intervening and punishing those who engage themselves in such honor killing or any killing in name of beliefs, false pride, customs and religion.

  72. Sharmila, MonaLisa,

    “Honor is self-esteem visible in action” Ayn Rand in Philosophy: Who Needs It?

    It is more than just visible action in my opinion.

    Ayn Rand had only a vague idea of India and the spiritual occupation of it’s inhabitants. Ayn Rand’s objectivism was subject to perceptual validation unlike the myriad conceptual derivatives of Vedic philosophies.

    Ofcourse, this is not to take away anything from Ayn Rand’s genius. She was the best among all the philosophers in Western history from Plato to Noam Chomsky.

    But I am going off the track.

    Honor. My opinion.

    Honor is a state of happiness. If a father or a mother relies for this on their child’s performance they are chasing a wild goose.

    My mother’s elder sister was the wife of a priest. My uncle was the high priest of the Raghvendra Swami Matth and also presided over the family temple in the town that was built by one of our ancestors.

    They had four children, 2 sons and 2 daughters.

    First son became an executive engineer in the Military Engineering Services. The parents were unmoved. They never asked him what he did for a living.

    They second dropped out of school, struggled for 10 years and finally found a job in Mumbai. The parents were unmoved. They never asked hiim what he did for a living.

    The elder daughter became an officer in a National Bank. She never married. The parents were unmoved. They never demanded anything of her.

    The second daughter did well too. Married an officer in the Defense Accounts office in Pune. The parents were unmoved. They never demanded anything of her.

    In an era when parents were seriously involved in every aspect of a child’s growth, they merely did their own duties without any expression of success or failure.

    After I purchased my first car, I took my mom and dad to visit their house. They met after 19 years. Both aunt and uncle were alive though over 85 years in age.

    My mom and her sister sat late into the night outside the temple arcade talking of their lives. I was amazed at the stark difference between the two sisters’ outlook.

    Aunt was 87 and Mom was 72. Aunt was known in the town for home remedies, now famously called Ayurvedic medicine. Mom was an educationist and a master at epistemology. Aunt had never stepped outside the district. Mom had travelled the length and breadth of India.

    Yet both had a sense of peace and honor that befitted their lives.

    My mom was proud of the way we kids had grown up. She recollected everything from our childhood to education and marriage. Her chat was all about her children. There was nothing about herself.

    My aunt spoke about God, destiny, mukti and her duties in the house and the temples. She spoke neither about herself nor her husband nor children.

    The source of the honor was the ability to live their lives consistently without the need for parliamentary laws and political intervention.

    For mom, the success of her children were a source of honor. For Aunt, supporting the children was merely a duty fulfilled, the success or failure were irrelevant.

    Both lived upto their beliefs and died in peace.

    In short, honor is a state of personal happines. It should not rely on a daughter’s conduct or a son’s bravado. It should not rely on social recognition.

    • Wow, so well said Reader.. I so agree. The problem arises when one forces their POV as the righteous part on another. Every path is unique, we are free to make our own paths, but the destination is the same.

  73. Lol…..Reader,
    Have you ever met any shark at all…!? 🙂
    You are lucky to survive if at all any… 🙂

    In my opinion
    Honor and Personal happiness could and should be two different things. Happiness shouldn’t be dependent of anything. Honor is more related and dependent of several things – Pride is the foremost criteria of it.

  74. Sharmila,
    Is it not time for a new post…yet..!? This page takes awfully long to load due to its length i guess…
    I am done posting on this page now… 🙂

  75. Really worth to watch!

    I really loved the special effects used in this movie!

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