India's most expensive film is another Rajinikanth hit
- 10 October 2010
- From the section South Asia
India's most expensive film ever is a Frankenstein-type tale of a scientist who makes a robot in his own image, which turns into a monster and falls in love with his maker's fiancee.
And it looks set to be another mega-hit for Tamil cinema's superstar, Rajinikanth, a balding 61-year-old whose unstoppable box office staying power seems almost as incredible as the film's plotline.
Made with a budget of 1.6bn rupees ($35m; £23m), Enthiran is a story about a killer robot who multiplies into a million clones, destroying Chennai (Madras), the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
But this terrifying army of androids is dwarfed in real life by the legions of fans of the movie's cult mega-star, Rajinikanth, India's highest-paid actor.
In Enthiran (Robot), Rajinikanth plays the nutty professor and his creation, the humanoid robot, Chitti.
The lovey-dovey android serenades his creator's fiancee, played by Bollywood star, Aishwarya Rai, singing that he will seek love in places "where Google searches can't reach".
James Bond 'snubbed'
She purrs and calls him her "toyfriend"; he sings that her beauty has set him burning to temperatures that even the "Atlantic Ocean cannot cool".
Smart lines, diabolical characters, high-voltage action and impressive special effects make this a promising Indian popcorn movie.
Then there are the lush song sequences in exotic locations like Machu Picchu.
The film's spin machine claims that the Peruvian authorities had "refused the shooting of a James Bond film, but allowed our Rajinikanth to dance".
The critics may be cringing, and at nearly 180 minutes, Enthiran is rather long, but the film has stormed the box office since opening last weekend.
The movie is also the product of an industry which is fast becoming globalised, despite its unique brand of cinema.
The special effects are cooked up by a Hollywood FX shop that has worked on films like Jurassic Park and Terminator.
The action scenes were staged by a Hong Kong choreographer who has worked with Jackie Chan and on the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The music is scored by the Oscar-winning AR Rahman - the songs are a fusion of lilting Tamil numbers set to Malaysian rap and hip hop, and bouncy electro-pop.
As so often, Rajinikanth steals the show.
"The two worthwhile creations of God are you and me," he tells the film's heroine.
At least half that statement would be heartily agreed with by members of the more than 6,000 Rajinikanth fan clubs that have spawned across India.
He is especially popular in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where film stars are venerated like gods.
In a recent article, slate.com rated Rajinikanth as the second-highest-paid actor in Asia, after Jackie Chan.
"If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth," says a review in slate.com.
In Japan, his film Muthu was dubbed in Japanese as The Dancing Maharaja and became a huge hit in 1995.
Rajinikanth's success is all the more remarkable considering he has no obvious aptitude as a dancer - a talent so desirable for Tamil musicals.
His eccentric mannerisms and histrionics have earned him the nickname Style King. But he remains the most beloved star of the Tamils.
His fans thought nothing of queuing from the early hours outside cinemas on the day of the film's premiere.
Rajinikanth's followers have been known to perform Hindu bathing purification rituals on his posters.
The success of Enthiran ensures that their worship of the megastar will continue.