Shah Rukh Khan was among the actors Tamil director Shankar approached a few years ago when he was casting his sci-fi movie Robot. Khan passed up the project. Shankar went on to make Robot with Rajinikanth in Hindi and Tamil (as Endhiran). In 2009, the Khan announced that he was producing and starring in his own superhero film, Ra.One, to be directed by Anubhav Sinha. In retrospect, it’s clear that Khan should have signed on for Robot and allowed a director more competent than Sinha to explore the fantastical premise of an Indian bionic man.
Ra.One borrows images, moments and characterisations from a range of superhero and sci-fi Hollywood movies like Iron Man, Terminator 2 and Spiderman. Khan plays a stereotypical nerdy Tamil Brahmin programmer whose Tamil is only a little better than Mehmood’s in Padosan. Shekhar Subramanium creates a video game centred on a superstrong villain Ra.One, who somehow enters the real world and tries to kill Subramanium’s gaming-addicted son, Prateek (Armaan Vema). Shekhar dies while fighting Ra.One and is replaced by G.One, his video game avatar. G.One must now save Prateek and his mother Sonia (Kareena Kapoor) from the shape-shifting villain, who ultimately assumes the form of the dishy Arjun Rampal.
The movie has several tacky but fast-paced action sequences – there’s a nice one on board a local train in Mumbai – but there’s ultimately no escaping the poorly drawn characters, Khan’s weird mannerisms and the surfeit of references to the male nether regions. The movie’s enduring image isn’t of G.One saving the world but of him clutching Ra.One’s weak spot – his crotch.