'2.0': Sci-fi takes a fantasy turn with pseudoscience

Spoiler alert!

The sequel of Enthiran, 2.0, is programmed with a flawed algorithm. Forget sci-fi, the theme has nothing to do with science at all. (Screengrab)

When Enthiran, directed by Shankar Shanmugam, was released eight years ago, it was a historic moment. Enthiran was the first high-budget scientific fiction (sci-fi) movie in the Indian film industry. Chitti, the human-like robot with emotions, developed by the brilliant engineer, Dr Vaseegaran, losing control and turning against its master and the entire human race is the plot of the movie. Though this was already a popular theme among the discussions of what can probably go wrong with the technology, Enthiran was a visual treat for Indian movie enthusiasts.

The sequel of Enthiran, 2.0, is programmed with a flawed algorithm. Forget sci-fi, the theme has nothing to do with science at all.

An ornithologist, who believes mobile towers wipe out the bird population thanks to radiation, commits suicide, and his spirit (ghost) wants to take revenge on everyone, not only the mobile company owners but also everyone who owns a mobile in the city of Chennai (unclear about his plans for other cities as his venture is an obvious failure).

In fact, one can call this a horror movie. But the real horror is the 'great scientist' Vaseegaran's 'scientific explanation' of the phenomenon. (The theory that mobile towers affect the bird population is already disputed by real ornithologists. You can read that here and here)

Vaseegaran tells Union ministers that the current form of Pakshirajan (the dead ornithologist) is his 'aura' which gained additional power from the similar 'auras' of millions of birds that died due to radiation. And they are facing its anger now.

Call it with by fantasy name, it is nothing but the ghost. It is indisputable that there is a possibility for a horror movie in this plot. But our scientist protagonist proves that the 'aura' is a reality by bringing in the Kirlian Photography theory.

The real science of 'aura'

Kirlian photography is the 'discovery' of a Soviet inventor Semyon Davidovich Kirlian and his wife Valentina Khrisanovna Kirlian. Semyon, in 1939, was helping in a hospital with a scanning machine. He noticed the presence of an abnormal light between the machine's electrodes (simply, an electric conductor) and the patient's skin and attempted to capture it. (To put things factually, he was not the first person to notice this light). Kirlian photography does not require a camera. The object to be photographed is placed above a photographic film, which is kept on a metal plate. On applying a high voltage through the metal sheet, the Kirlian photograph can be generated and the 'aura' can be captured.


Kirlian photograph of two coins (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

This is for real. There will be a glow (mostly a bluish one) around the object you intend to photograph. However, this is not any sort of aura that science cannot explain. When the high voltage is passing through the metal plate, the air around the object gets ionised (atoms loses or gains an electron). If that air contains water, it results “corona plasma discharge” which is seen as the glow (or the so-called aura). This can happen with non-living objects as well. For example, this corona discharge is actually a headache for our electricity board as there can be a significant loss of energy while transmitting electricity.

Many pseudoscientists and theosophists across the world make use of this technology. Some people say there is an 'etheric body' or a 'higher' body surrounding the physical one. They have also developed several 'spiritual theories' based on this.

In short, this is just a molecular reaction. Not the spirit or any sort of energy field. But Pakshirajan gains enormous energy from it to snatch all the mobile phones on earth and fight numerous robots led by Chitti.

What else to expect?

Hollywood gets the help of leading scientists and engineers like Carl Sagan (Contact), Kip Thorne (Interstellar) and even the US space agency NASA. Most of them face strong criticism from the scientific community on what they depict on the screen. However, those are about mostly questioning the possibility of filmmakers' imaginations where you can draw a line between science and fiction.

What will happen if we seek Indian scientists' help? We have a former Isro head who believe that Indians had discovered gravity 1500 years before Newton did, (gravity is anyway not an exciting topic for Indian heroes) and water in Mars was located in the 5th century itself.

Also, don't bother to Google about Indian sci-fi. The result is Krrish 3 and Koi... Mil Gaya.

(Read the #DH_Talkies 2.0 review here.)

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'2.0': Sci-fi takes a fantasy turn with pseudoscience

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