CGI Gobbledygook

It has been seen in recent months that a spectacle is not enough to satisfy the audience. While a star like Rajinikanth with his huge fan following might be able to pull off 2.0 at the box-office, with any other star, its fate would have been doubtful. Probably that is why in the credits, ‘Superstar’ is prefixed to his name, while Akshay Kumar’s name goes without any embellishment.

2.0 is the sequel to S Shankar’s Robot (Enthiran in Tamil), in which Rajinikanth had played a scientist called Dr Vasigaran, and his lookalike alter ego – a robot named Chitti. In the last film, he 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.

The sequel 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!

A flashback shows a mild-mannered ornithologist Pakshiraja (Akshay Kumar) trying to get the powers that be to reduce cell usage and transmission frequency to prevent birds from dying of radiation. But nobody believes him, so he gets the aura of millions of birds and becomes a huge predatory bird made of cell phones. “Nice DP,” comments 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.

Shankar and his team have worked hard on the CGI, but it is all too much to take by the long and boring climax.  The biggest problem with 2.0 is that the antagonist is actually right, and in favour of protecting Earth. Why should he be mocked by a robot, who threatens to decimate thousands of birds?

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). Akshay Kumar’s face is mostly hidden, but one can see why the role appealed to the current upholder of so many social causes. Add ‘Save Birds’ to the list.

2.0

Directed by S. Shankar

Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson and others

Rating: 2.5 stars

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Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.