5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies


Part of being a decent human is attempting to understand and empathize with the many different cultures and societies that surround us. And what better way to accomplish that than by watching their most hilariously confusing movies and extrapolating out a set of unfair, ridiculous stereotypes from them? I've already done it once, and I learned a very important lesson: Never go up against a Christian when death is on the line. Now I'm going to apply the same absurdly faulty logic to understanding another huge portion of the world around me: the Indian subcontinent. Sure, it's an impenetrably dense network comprised of a billion people and untold thousands of heterogeneous subcultures, but I figure we can probably get the gist of it from this fucked-up musical about killer robots.

Physics Need Not Apply


First of all, I should clarify that this movie, Enthiran -- a three-hour musical epic halfway between Bicentennial Man and RoboCop -- is a Tamil film. That's a region in Southern India with many of their own unique beliefs and styles, and it's a very different thing than Bollywood. For example, while both Bollywood and Tamil place a lot of filmic importance on music and dance, the latter places equal importance on the kick-to-flight ratio of dudes with shitty mustaches. Seriously, you can't pass the salt in a Tamil movie without accidentally sending somebody's creepy uncle hurtling through a window. For example, here's one of the disposable slapstick comedy characters getting fist-catapulted across the room in the very first scene:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

That's how the movie introduces itself: by launching a series of screaming tech support missiles across the room. And you'd better suspend that disbelief from the ceiling, friend, because
Enthiran is going to spend the rest of its run time taking wild, blind swings at it with a bat. Tamil cinema in general thinks that the laws of physics are for frail, weak men who lack enough cushioning bloat to take a good beating, and Enthiran is their God-king. It makes sense: You work as a dishwasher in a busy restaurant all day, you sure as shit don't want to do the dishes when you come home. Well, the hard sciences are a booming industry in India, so when they head out to the movies, the last thing they want to do is understand some bullshit kinetics. Think I'm exaggerating? Here's the main character being Frisbee'd into the roof by a malignant android that looks like a cross between Wayne Newton and Pepe Le Pew:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

You know how you can always tell when a tech manual has been outsourced to India because, while it's obvious that they have a firm grasp on the English language, there's some bizarre flourish hidden in every other sentence that simply defies understanding? Well,
Enthiran has taught me that the same thing applies to physics: In India, slapping isn't just an insult, but an economic method of travel, probably because somebody fucked up the translation on Newton's Laws of Motion.

Time Holds No Meaning

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Enthiran is a hell of a long movie. Like I said, it's a three-hour musical epic, and as we all know, adding the term "musical" to anything makes it at least four relative hours longer. But even the term "epic" is not doing this monumental bastard any sort of justice, because in addition to the unwieldy run time, there isn't a single slack nanosecond in Enthiran. Characters move fast, talk fast and walk fast, and if you want crap like atmosphere or time to process, then you're a disappointment to your grandparents; why can't you be more like Ishwar? He has two doctorates, three jobs and four ulcers, and he just turned 12.

Every shot in
Enthiran watches like a blind editor came in and chopped the first and last third off of the scene, regardless of consequence. The movie switches locations before you realized the conversation ended, and new characters pop in for lines, even though you had no idea they were in the room in the first place, or else they leave the scene entirely and the film doesn't bother to show you. The end result is the implication that this entire society has mastered the art of teleportation, but mostly just use it to nag each other across a span of continents.

will murder you ifyou start this topic again
"W-wait ... what? I was just on a beach. Where the fuck did you come from? WHERE AM I RIGHT NOW!?"

So when I say it's a three-hour epic, you need to understand that means three Tamil hours, which translate to American chronology in roughly the same ratio as dog years. This is 20 hours of movie shoved into 168 frantic minutes. Watching
Enthiran is like learning kung fu in The Matrix ; there's just no way this much information should be delivered to your brain that quickly. It's unnatural, and there are sure to be repercussions. So if you make it all the way to the end and you find yourself hemorrhaging cerebrally, or that some of your loved ones have long since died, try to take some solace in the knowledge that there was truly no more efficient delivery system for bloated Indian men getting kicked in the groin by the Terminator.

Love Like You've Never Been Hurt, Rape Like Nobody's Watching

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

There's only one main female character in Enthiran, Sana, and she has two jobs: to be compared (not always favorably) to foodstuffs via song, and to almost get raped. Seriously, every musical number insists she's an overripe kumquat or mayonnaise in chocolate, and for every single one of her actions there is an equal but opposite attempted gangbang. She's nearly assaulted by the Indian Backstreet Boys, a cult that worships boomboxes, a mildly retarded farmer -- even the titular robot character gets in on the action, and the movie makes it explicitly, repeatedly clear that
he was not built with a penis. At that point, he's just raping her on principle. Please don't mistake me here: I am absolutely not saying that rape is anything less than a direly serious matter, I'm just saying that
nobody told this movie that. If Enthiran is to be believed, then Indian life is like a perverse Harlan Ellison story:

you brainwash me with ease
I have no dick, and I must ...

But it's the scene with the dimwitted farmer that really hammers home how casually rape is doled out in the universe of
Enthiran. That guy is on screen for two minutes, tops, and roughly a minute and a half of that time is him being adorably dumb and bashful:

Ifook like a piglet you are as delicious as butter

The other 30 seconds is him trying to molest the main character. There's literally no segue there -- the transformation from harmless comic relief to sexual criminal was apparently in one of those scenes the blind editor lopped off, because this character flips from Barney Fife to Nils Bjurman in the nanoseconds between manic jump cuts. Luckily, Sana escapes unscathed with the male lead, and they both enjoy an uproarious laugh about the sexual assault, not 15 seconds after they've escaped it.

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies
"Hahaha, you should've seen the look on your face when he tried to forcibly penetrate you!"

What the Fuck Is a Context?

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Enthiran thinks "context" is some sort of intraprison messaging service. Whereas Bollywood movies will often segue into relevant musical numbers, Enthiran will slam on the brakes to make you watch random music videos at the drop of a Haatim (that's the mustachioed fellow who just got booted through the cinder block wall behind you). For example, what happened after our heroes escaped the attempted rape by Indian Lennie Small back there? I mean right after -- what was the very next frame that followed that scene? Why, this right here, of course:

"Wait ... no, we were on a rural Indian back road and you -- this isn't even fucking Africa! WHAT HATH SCIENCE WROUGHT?!"

The movie cuts away, mid-manic-PTSD laughter, to a musical number about the highest mountain in Africa and how it's crazy that this chick is totally the same thing as fruit. Because
Enthiran has absolutely no borders. It's not even firmly situated in any one genre, but rather rapidly oscillates from Short Circuit to Fist of the North Star to the video from Hall and Oates' Maneater.

My beloved...
I literally could not tell you which is which. I think I may be white-blazer-blind.

Early on in the film, the affable robot, Chitti, embarks on a wacky, cartoonish task to capture a mosquito, which he accomplishes -- obviously -- by speaking Mosquito to it:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Now here he is starring in a cutesy music video about innocent love with a cast of dancing Cylons.

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Now here he is popping a man's head like a blood pimple.

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Roughly 90 percent of this movie is written and performed solely for young children who love sci-fi/fantasy, and the other 10 percent is random sex crimes and gruesome murder. It's like if
Labyrinth played out exactly the same for the first 70 minutes, but then when Jennifer Connelly reaches the Goblin City, David Bowie hangs Hoggle with his own intestines while the puppets take turns sodomizing Ludo.If I'm to conclude something about Indian society from the contextual void that is Enthiran, it is that one thing does not follow another in any semblance of logical order there, and that life in Tamil is something between an Alzheimer's ward and an old Doctor Who episode. But, you know, with bitchin' little mustaches drawn over everything.

There Are No Rules

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies
Yes, he is surfing that man down the highway. Why ever do you ask?

The madness of
Enthiran is a slowly building thing: Sure, it starts off a little strange and inexplicable, but there are parts -- particularly the fight scenes -- where you really start to see the advantage of chucking the entire rulebook out the window and embracing the ridiculous. Particularly this scene on the train:

That was just straight up bad in the general ass area. By shunning such archaic constraints as "reality" and "coherence," the fight choreographers were free to reenact whatever bizarre impulse popped into their heads, and the end result is fantastic: It's like the collaborative work of Bruce Lee, Stan Lee and a 5-year-old with a mismatched set of action figures. Chitti first engages in a painstakingly arranged kung fu battle, then he gets flung from the car, so he sprouts Rollerblades out of nowhere, activates his magnetic boots and sprints sideways along the entire length of a passenger train
all the while hurdling other, oncoming trains, then resumes the battle suspended from the commuter handholds like a tubby Indian Spider-Man.

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

It's storytelling brilliant enough to provoke Shakespeare into shame-suicide, clearly. But this scene isn't the climax of the film; it's barely the start. It occurs roughly 45 minutes in. Jesus Christ, when you've set the bar that high, where do you go from there? And the answer, of course, is "totally insane."Apropos of nothing, Chitti turns evil halfway through the movie and starts reproducing himself. And
every fight scene from that point forward features a clone army of slightly overweight Indian dudes. Picture the infamous "thousand Agent Smiths" scene from
The Matrix, only mentally replace all of the Smiths with a set of tinker toys shaped like Bizarro Neil Diamonds. Hey, don't take my word for it. Here's a bloated, middle-aged clone battle sphere:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Here they are in deadly tube form:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Here's a gargantuan cobra -- its very cell structure comprised of leather-clad fat guys -- eating a helicopter:

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies

Now here are the Chitti clones bolting together, Voltron-style -- each limb a thousand jiggly Indian dudes; each joint lubricated by butter and hair wax -- into a giant recreation of my own fever nightmares after dosing up on cough syrup and falling asleep to a city council meeting on public access. In case the following picture is unclear, this is a giant robot made out of 200 tubby Indian men giving a thumbs-up with his thumb, which is also a tubby Indian man who himself is giving a thumbs-up.

5 Things You Can Learn about India from Their Action Movies
You have now seen everything. Die in peace.

In short, this movie is the best thing that I, or anybody else, has or indeed ever will see in the aggregate of human history. And if this masterwork is at all reflective of the society that produced it, then I am forced to conclude that India is a terrifying, time-skipping, physics-defying amoral chaos dimension. Which ... sounds pretty much right, actually.

You can buy Robert's book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Or you can join together with him and help build a giant puma made out of pasty white dudes to defend our nation against the rising Chubby Indian Voltron threat.

For more from Robert, check out The 5 Most Mind-Blowing Moments from Indian Action Movies and 5 Bad Economic Indicators for the Criminally Insane.

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