Geraftaar is not just a simple tale of two brothers separated at birth as this film manages to incorporate almost every Hindi film cliché.  There is the long suffering mother, a significant song, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, a significant necklace and to top it all off death by bulldozer. As if that wasn’t enough we have not one, not two, but three heroes.  Kamal Hassan, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth appear together although unfortunately not all on screen at the same time.

Karan Kumar Khanna is a brat of a child, but still doesn’t deserve to be framed for his father’s murder. Adding to his misery, the real killers convince him that he may have been responsible. Nirupa Roy, in true filmi Ma style, instantly believes that he did indeed kill his father.  Karan runs away and tries to kill himself.

This allows his brother Kishan to grow up free from his teasing at least.  Kishan grows up into Kamal Hassan. Working as a stuntman in the film industry he has big dreams of making it as a hero but struggles to get paid the basic rate for his work.

His personal life is no more successful. After a rather unpromising start, he finally marries the unbelievably spoilt and self-centred Anuradha.  Anu is played by Poonam Dhillon, who does a very good job of making her character initially unappealing.

Back to those clichés!  Anu’s brother is a gangster and is involved with a number of shady businessmen, who were also responsible for the death of our heroes’ father.  They devise a plot to frame Kishan for the murder of his dancer friend Lucy, (but unfortunately not before she does a really bad version of flashdance), and he ends up in jail.  Coincidence rules and thanks to that significant song he manages to find Karan, although he doesn’t know who Karan is.

Karan (now the much taller and much more serious Amitabh Bachchan) explains why he is in prison though a series of flashbacks that pick up from his failed suicide attempt.  We learn that he was found by a Muslim boy, and taken in by him and his mother.  Both boys grew up to be police inspectors, but Hussein (Rajnikanth) was killed by Vijay, the police commissioner’s son.  Karan is in love with Vijay’s sister Geeta, played by Madhavi in a role that involves quite a bit of fisticuffs!   So we have a symmetrical arrangement of two good(ish) girls who both have evil brothers plotting against our heroes who are long-lost-brothers. There are various jail breaks, song breaks, court dramas, deaths by bulldozer (yes, more than one) and the inevitable family reunion, so that all ends well.

There are some great things about this film.  Inspector Geeta gets to join in for a lot of the fight scenes and does a really good job.  Rajnikanth is excellent as the cigarette tossing Inspector Hussein and manages a suitably dramatic and filmi ending – defiantly smoking his cigarette to the bitter end.

The gang are the comedy relief and manage some funny moments in their convoluted plans.  Kader Khan has a really insane moustache, and is clearly the head villain as he has a talking skull that gives him advice!

The scenes of Karan and Kishan singing and wandering around what appears to be a very nice open-plan prison are well done and the drama of their meeting is well handled.

The character of Anu is initially unlikeable and shows no empathy for anyone.  She tricks Kishan into believing she loves him (and his Ma) and then humiliates him in front of her friends — all because she couldn’t stand the idea that he wasn’t interested in her.  In revenge, he insists on marrying her before sending Anu back to her brother’s house so she can be trained to be a worthy bride. This deception on both sides leaves Kishan’s Ma in hospital as she crumbles under the weight of so much bizarre behaviour. Anu has an epiphany and  magically morphs into the perfect wife, praying to die before Kishan and wait for him in the afterlife.

Neither of the female leads show any regret about their brothers – either for the life they lead or when they both suffer the consequences for their wrong-doing.  Geeta initially tries to reason with her brother Vijay, but doesn’t seem at all happy to find that reports of his death were premature.  Anu is shown vowing to cast aside her other relationships and accept Kishan as her husband but that was part of her deception so it wasn’t clear if she decided a vow was a vow, or if some other change of heart took place. The rest of the film is dedicated to family so this lack of feeling from the sisters towards their respective brothers did seem odd.

Kamal Hassan turns in a very good performance as Kishan but is upstaged by Amitabh in the second half. The two heroines do what they do, but don’t really have much to work with although they both get to participate in the action in the final scenes. Nirupa Roy with her trademark knuckle bite is once again the dramatic filmi mother.  The music by Bappi Lahiri leans heavily towards disco – this was filmed in 1985 – but the significant song Aana Jaana Laga Rahega is lovely and sung beautifully by Shabbir Kumar and Bappi Lahiri himself. Kader Khan, Ranjeet and Shakti Kapoor play their usual stock characters and once again reap the benefit of a well funded wardrobe department. The fight scenes are very amusing.  Although sped up to a ridiculous degree they still look quite leisurely. Perhaps the fights composer, credited as Judo Rathnam, was really a tai chi expert.

Heather says: I started this film a few times before I finally managed to watch it to the end.  I find the first half drags, and the character of Anu was so annoying that I ended up shouting at the screen.  But the whole tempo of the film changed at the appearance of Amitabh and Rajnikanth, so it was well worth making it to the second half – thank-you Temple for insisting I finish it!  Rajni steals every scene he is in. Despite the fact that this is a special appearance with only a small role, he made the most of every second and I loved every single one of them!  Amitabh was overly dramatic which made him somewhat more comic  than I think was intended, but seemed to fit the general feel of the film.  I couldn’t really take death by bulldozer seriously and spent most of the film laughing at the melodrama of it all.  When I wasn’t getting annoyed by Anu at any rate.  I enjoyed the songs and thought that the comedy track was well written in, and had some very funny moments.  I have the feeling they couldn’t decide if this was meant to be a drama, a comedy or an action film, but instead of adding everything to make it full masala it just ended up switching from one style to the other and was just that little bit less satisfying.  That little bit of Rajni helped make it more palatable. This film gets 3 stars from me.

Temple says: I agree with Heather that the director couldn’t quite decide how to spread out the masala ingredients in Geraftaar—so I think they decided Kamal Hassan got the comedy (mostly), Amitabh took drama and Rajnikanth was the action man. Which made for an uneven, albeit wildly entertaining, film. Bulldozers are not a weapon for the spontaneous killer, so the build up to get to the death by moving equipment was overly complicated and really made the film drag. And how some of the victims didn’t see it coming is just beyond me. The three heroes did an excellent job, especially Amitabh and Rajni as their roles had more substance and, I can’t believe I am going to use this word in relation to this film, logic. The heroines were OK for their under-written and sketchy roles and Madhavi looked like she was right into the biffo in the final scenes. I do have to give an extra cheer for Kamal Hassan’s dancing duel in his featured song. Its worth seeing Geraftaar just for the star cast. It’s a bit of a chore to hang in there til the action kicks in, but it is worth it. I give this 3 and 1/2 stars. It gets extra for the skull with glowing eyes and for Kamal Hassan’s dancing.


After all the hype, hysteria and build-up we finally made it to a packed showing of Endhiran.  There was a definite buzz in the air as we queued in disorderly fashion totally blocking both the main street and the exit to various shops and restaurants in the area.  As the opening credits rolled, the crowd went wild, and we were off into our first Tamil film with subtitles in the cinema.

The film starts well with an interestingly wigged and bearded Rajni working on his robot creation.  His lab is wonderfully futuristic and his lab assistants appropriately comedic.  We then had the introduction of his love interest in the form of  Sana (played by Aish), and this was where the film began to lose its way.  There was no chemistry between them as a couple, and the age difference was notable. Aish actually looked far too old to be playing a medical student, especially one who was too flaky to study for her exams.

Scenes between Rajni as Vasi (the scientist) and Chitti (the robot) were generally done well and conveyed the growing tension in the relationship between the man and his creation. Rajni’s performance in both roles was very polished and often compelling. Again though, the lack of chemistry between the leads undermined this as the plot hinged on Chitti falling in love with Sana and that failed to be really convincing. Once love drives the man and robot apart , the film turns into a revenge action drama and the pace picks up.

Danny Denzongpa makes a welcome return as Dr Vaseegaran’s old teacher, and current rival in robotics. He makes some fine points regarding ethics and behaviour, and seems to have more of a grasp on what it means to create sentient life than any of the good guys.  Unfortunately he seems to be much less well funded than the lone scientist Vasi, and this leads to some bad choices in his associates.

The film tosses up some really interesting ideas and questions, but fails to expand on or answer them which was frustrating.   The scene where Chitti rescues people from burning buildings had so much potential to expand on the theme of the value of life, but instead just served to point out how far removed from the realities of life the scientists had become.

The effects in general were really well done, but even for a sci-fi film like this there just seemed to be too much reliance on clever CGI and not enough on actual story.  For example, in the fire scene the robot could fly with no obvious means of propulsion and despite being hot enough for his silicone skin and clothes to burn away, his metallic frame wasn’t so hot that it burned any of the people he helped. It was obvious that the artistic vision didn’t extend to any basic logic or science.

Once we got to Chitti 2.0 the pace did pick up and the story did consolidate into a straight good guys versus bad guys. Rajni has a great line in evil laughs and his evil strut was a crowd favourite. The production design was excellent and the appearance of the various lairs, labs and other locations suited the theme of the film.

The basic question of why Chitti didn’t have the same rights as the men around him was never addressed, despite that being the reason for him turning to the dark side. Instead, we got more CGI and more Rajnis – not necessarily a bad thing but it did go on for longer than it needed to. We did love the snake! Once all the whizz bang technological effects were done with, the film failed to really reach a conclusion. It seemed that all the surviving characters would just go on with their lives as though this little episode had never happened. It was quite disappointing and not satisfying at all after so much build up and excitement to leave the film with no clear conclusion.

The songs were generally well placed in the film and were beautifully shot.  The outdoor locations were stunning with some excellent use of local fauna.  Aish’s outfits were beautiful and the costumes in Kilimanjaro do deserve special mention for the total exuberance of feathers.

Heather says: While I did enjoy this film I thought it could have benefited from longer in the editing room. The film seemed to be a collection of good scenes which were drawn out a little too long and too many ideas which were never fully developed.  The story had a tendency to lose its way when the focus was on the romance between the two lead characters and this tended to lose my attention.  Rajni however was fantastic and his scenes both as the scientist and as the robot worked very well. He was always the main focus of attention in any scene and made the most of his double role.  His assistants provided most of the comedy and I found them to be very funny and also quite well utilised in the story.  I’d been playing the music for weeks, and liked most of the songs.  Watching the film, even the two songs I hadn’t really liked on the CD worked well and although the dancing was perhaps a little lacking the locales and costumes were elaborate enough to make up for that.  I really didn’t like the bad medicine in one scene – always a pet hate for me, and even some of the physics was just a little too hard to swallow.  But then again it was a sci-fi film and not meant to be taken literally!  On that sci-fi note, the special effects really were special.  Overall the CGI was impressive, and the robot scenes in particular were very well done.  They did seem to get a little carried away towards the end, but the film did have enough of a futuristic feel and justifies at least some of its apparently massive budget.   Perhaps I just expected too much from a Rajni film, and it failed to be as good as anticipated.  But I did enjoy the film and with a little more thought on the editing felt that it could have been excellent.  In this current version, I give it 3 and 1/2 stars.

Temple says: There was a lot I enjoyed about Endhiran but also a lot that left me cold.  Rajni is the superstar, and he certainly dominated the screen whenever he appeared. He had to carry the whole film, and managed to make the biggest scenes and the smallest moments compelling and memorable. He was ably assisted by his wig designer! The first half of the film just dragged, and spent far too long on the unconvincing Rajni/Aish relationship. Aish’s acting was poor throughout, but having seen her give excellent performances in other films (Ravanan, Raincoat, Kandukondain Kandukondain, Devdas) I place a lot of the responsibility for that on a weak character/script and on the director. The second half of the film was much more successful and more enjoyable. It was clear that Shankar has been “inspired” by many other blockbuster films, and seemed determined to use scenes from many of them in Endhiran. This collage effect was spoiled by the lack of linking episodes and dialogues so it became a bit disjointed and messy. I can’t even begin to explain the mosquito skit. The supporting actors are good, and it was great to see Danny Denzongpa back as a villain of sorts.  I didn’t like the music before I saw the film, and thought that might change seeing the songs in situ. It didn’t. I still don’t like the soundtrack much at all, and found it boring despite the excellent production design for the song picturisations. With a good edit, and a bit more thought for the story, this could have been brilliant. I give it 3 stars.