mattbell: (Default)
[personal profile] mattbell
Enthiran is an Indian film that mashes up the major tropes of Indian cinema (weddings, elaborate song and dance numbers etc) with a completely over-the-top James-Cameron-lite action film, heavy science fiction themes of robotics and artificial intelligence, and some completely ridiculous surrealistic non-sequitors worthy of David Lynch.  There's a love triangle between a scientist, his fiancee, and the scientist's robot creation.  It's the sort of thing Neal Stephenson would put into one of his novels to show just how much cultures will mix in the future.  This cut of brain-melting action sequences has been going viral on the internet, but I looked at other parts of the movie, and there's a *lot* going on.

Here are some quick screenshots:

OK, so why would I think this might be one of the most influential movies of 2011? 

I will say, the special effects are ambitious but poorly executed by Western standards, there are plenty of predictable plot elements and piles of trite dialogue, and the very limited number of female characters are mainly there to look pretty. 

The film is obviously geek-bait (scientist-hero with sexy girlfriend, heavy technology focus, quirky enough origin and delivery that it's seen as "alt-y" and therefore embraceable by the subculture), and I'm sure it will take its place in the geek canon with The Matrix, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and whatnot. 

So why is this movie important?  I think it signals a lot of interesting developments:
- Increased acceptance of many new technologies into popular culture, including very traditional non-Western cultures.  (They're *singing* about *Google*!)
- Reorganization of social networks around the world along lines of shared interests as opposed to shared location.  We may get to a point where IT professionals in the US may have more connections with IT professionals in India than with people in a different cultural cluster in the US.   (I just about flipped my lid when I saw Freakonomics show up)
- Less American cultural dominance in media production.  This film cost $40 million to make, and there are only 70 million Tamil* speakers in the world, so this was definitely intended to be a global film.  Over time this will probably help more Americans realize that there's no one way to be a first-world country.  (There's a common misconception among Americans who haven't traveled much that all the gleaming cities in all the first world countries are similar, culturally speaking.  This is so far from the case that it's kind of laughable.)


The movie is headed for a US release soon, but if you're so inclined, you can watch the whole movie on youtube here, at least until the copyright cops take it down.  I'm also thinking of getting some people together to watch it at my house.  Let me know if you're interested.


*The film is not in Hindi but in Tamil, a language spoken primarily in the southern tip of India.  (Although only ~7% of India is Tamil, that's still ~70 million people). 

Date: 2011-02-04 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I managed to catch this when it was in the theaters (it had a really short run at emerybay - which often has bollywood films - worth checking out!)

Date: 2011-02-04 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
and hit enter way too soon - the movie is fantastically fun - i've since tracked down a download of it (to tide me over until i can buy it on dvd), and have watched it a couple of times again.

Date: 2011-02-05 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think a lot of Americans over estimate the impact of American media. Bollywood, telenovellas and Nigerian cinema are extremely popular worldwide and are part of an international media landscape. This whole notion of a global uniculture--not so true.

And I think we are probably already at the point where American IT professionals have more in common with their counterparts in other parts of the world--at least to some degree.

Date: 2011-02-05 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You might also be interested in Magadheera. Less technological though equally amusing.

Date: 2011-02-05 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
While this looks interesting (and I'm definitely going to check it out), I'm interested in the effect of Limitless on the public's perception of nootropics:

Date: 2011-02-05 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was going to say that Bollywood movies are already quite popular in the Middle East and Africa, but then you mentioned that it was Tamil and not Hindi - I have no idea if Tamil movies have historically been as popular outside India (and the Tamil diaspora in Singapore, Sri Lanka, the UAE, and so on). I'll have to check it out some time, especially since Tamil is the ancestral language of the Indian side of my family.

Date: 2011-02-05 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i'm hoping this comes to netflix.

Date: 2011-02-07 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds fun!


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