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The Birds Are Angry

Saturday, December 01, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

S. Shankar
Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson and others
Rating: * * 1/2

Rajinikanth fans will probably flock to it, those men (maybe some women too), who bathe his cut-outs with milk and dance their way to the theatre screening his films.

No point telling them that S.Shankar’s 2.0, sequel to his hit movie Enthiran/Robot is absurd (and not in a nice way), never mind the massive amount of money spent on the CGI. Multiple Rajinikanths—human, robot, rebooted robot with red hair, an army of mini robots—would probably give them their money’s worth. Probably that is why in the credits, ‘Superstar’ is prefixed to his name, while Akshay Kumar’s name goes without embellishment.

But it is Akshay Kumar in his current save-the-world avatar, who is rather unfairly made the antagonist, when he talks perfect sense. Playing ornithologist Dr. Pakshiraja, he pleads that excessive cell phone radiation kills birds and the decimation of the bird population endangers Earth.

The protagonist is the boastful scientist, Dr. Vasigaran, who had created a lookalike alter ego a robot named Chitti in the last film. Chitti had gone rogue and been dismantled. A sequel obviously means a return of the metallic creature (why a robot needs sunglasses is not clear) with superpowers.

2.0 begins with an interesting premise—mobile phones are sucked out of the hands of users and from showrooms in Tamil Nadu, causing much anguish and chaos amongst a populace dependent on the gadget. The sequences are over-extended, however, followed by a mobile dealer being killed by a deluge of phones, and later, cell towers being toppled over by a giant claw.

Politicians and cops are baffled, Dr. Vasigaran spouts scientific gobbledygook, the upshot of which is that having failed to halt the mobile-guzzling monster, by any other means, they need to get Chitti back. Vasigaran’s robot assistant Nila (Amy Jackson) is thrilled, having upped her emotional intelligence by watching films and TV!

Pakshiraja has imbibed the aura of millions of birds and becomes a huge predatory bird made of cell phones. “Nice DP,” comments a sneering Chitti when he figures out that the cause of all the mayhem is Pakshiraja. He topples over gleaming buildings and has people running about in panic—this taken from Hollywood films about alien forces wrecking entire cities. Strangely, there is no indication of any reaction from the rest of the country, leave aside the world, to this bizarre phenomenon.

The visual effects are intermittently impressive, but the writing does not even have the scientific logic of children’s comic books, and the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious. The scientist’s great idea is to “neutralize” negative forces by rays of positive energy (seriously!) Women have no place in this universe except as an obedient robot and a nagging wife on the phone (the character was played by Aishwarya Rai in the first film, but her voice is not used).

In 2.0, permission is granted to create an army of Chittis, one suspects 3.0 is on a drawing board somewhere.

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