THE ANTIHERO

THE ANTIHERO

It just really was a futile attempt at putting off the inevitable- this deliberate avoidance of writing anything on Endhiran. When there is a veritable deluge of writing on Rajnikanth and Endhiran all around you, it becomes an impossibly daunting task to offer a different perspective or to have anything insightful to say. Unfortunately, the overpowering marketing juggernaut behind the movie does not stop at just getting viewers flocking to the theaters. It extends its tentacles to all forms of media forcing them to partake in this frenzy or risk being ostracised outcasts. When people ask me if I liked Endhiran, I diplomatically reply that it was totally worth it for just the few minutes that Rajnikanth lights up the screen as the rogue robot. In a movie as technically brilliant and as visually opulent as this, the highlights for me were those moments sandwiched between computer graphics and special effects, when Rajnikanth is totally in his element as Chitti Ver 2.0. There is something immensely captivating about a role with grey shades, when it is played with a right mix of style, charisma and menace. And quite often, actors breaking away from their typecast roles like Aamir Khan in 1947 Earth or Saif Ali Khan in Omkara blow you away with their performance. In Rajnikanth’s case, it is not the same as he started his career as a villain, but, it does take quite a bit to wipe away the images of his ‘do-gooder superstar hero with a golden heart’ roles and his humble off-screen persona from your mind and gain complete acceptance as an antagonist.

The thing about antiheroes is that they are closer to the hero end of the spectrum than the villain end. The hero and the antihero have the same shades of grey and the same imperfections. What differentiates them is that one of them succumbs to his weaknesses and takes a step closer to the dark side. Often times, he is justifiably a victim of circumstances.

An imperfect hero?

What really was disappointing about Endhiran was that just as in Avatar, the story and screenplay did not match up to the intelligence and complexity in the visualisation, imagination and execution. One might argue that a simplistic storyline suffices when the visual experience was the focus, but, the plot in Endhiran was ripe with possibilities, something that writer Sujatha might have exploited to a greater degree had he been alive. But, where Endhiran gets it right is the conceptualisation of the rogue robot and especially, the dialogues in the end as the robot dismantles itself. In avoiding customary tropes like world domination and destruction of the human race and instead making love the primary motivation, Chitti Ver 2.0 comes across more as an antihero and less as a conventional villain. The thing about antiheroes is that they are closer to the hero end of the spectrum than the villain end. The hero and the antihero have the same shades of grey and the same imperfections. What differentiates them is that one of them succumbs to his weaknesses and takes a step closer to the dark side. Often times, he is justifiably a victim of circumstances.

Right and wrong

In this context, I will now reveal the blasphemous intent of this article- to offer a somewhat sympathetic view of British Petroleum (BP). Now, there is no denying that the mitigative measures adopted by BP after the oil spell were severely lacking and their attempts at crisis management through denial, cover-ups, and lies were deplorable. However, there is a difference between a child who accidentally breaks the ink bottle on his father’s desk and the one that deliberately splatters ink on the back of a classmate sitting in front of him. It is but natural for the former to try and conceal the act in fear of the consequences. The analogy is a bit far stretched for BP has corporate responsibility and accountability that a child does not, but, the basic survival instinct is surely common. The economic ramifications of the disaster and the threat that it could pose to the company were probably the first things that guided their decisions and actions. Self-preservation would have taken precedence over doing the correct thing and like a true antihero would, BP crossed that blurry line between right and wrong.

My bigger problem with this whole fiasco is all the environmental posturing doing the rounds and how people do not realise the inherent hypocrisy in ranting about BP. I am not saying you need to be a tree hugging, Toyota Prius driving, organic product loving, carbon footprint conscious person to vent against BP, but, it would be nice to have the awareness that we are after all in some way, end consumers of the very product that BP produces. Tapping into natural resources is a destructive and depletive process and accidents are bound to happen and in this case BP just happened to be the unlucky fall guy. I am reminded of Samuel L Jackson’s memorable character in Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, and how sometimes the antihero is essential for the hero to discover himself. In taking the rap for this disaster, BP has helped expose how poorly equipped and unprepared corporates are for such environmental mishaps. It is not always the hero who is responsible for positive change and just for that, in my eyes BP is less of a villain, and more of an antihero.