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Frankenstein: The Shakti Unleashed By A Shakti

Sridhar Adivi |Friday, 24 Feb 2023 - 6:09 PM

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Probably, the first movie ever based on the theme of artificial intelligence

In recent times, nothing has captured the attention of the public as ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022. ChatGPT is a language processing Artificial Intelligence (AI) model that generates text and images to engage with users in human-like interactions. 

Tipped to be the next big thing in technology, it is a harbinger to the kind of radical effect that AI is all set to have on life on the planet. As with any nascent technology, it will have its pros and cons but that is beyond the scope of this article. Rather, we can take a look at some of the films in Indian cinema made on the themes of AI and then at Frankenstein, probably the first movie in cinematic history made in this genre. 

Robo (2010)

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Superstar Rajinikanth played the dual role of professor and his creation, a robot built for national security in this Shankar directorial. The professor fixes the bug in the robot which now enables it to comprehend and exhibit human emotions. Trouble starts when the robot falls in love with the professor’s fiancée (played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and then goes beyond human control. 

Anukul (2017)

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A Bengali short film based on a story by Satyajit Ray and directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Anukul stars Saurabh Shukla as a retired and lonely school teacher who purchases a robot to do the household chores for him. However, the robot comes with a stipulation that it should not be assaulted in any way thereby giving it a sensitive character. When this condition is violated, what impact does it have on the life of the protagonist? 

Android Kunjapan Version 5.25 (2019)

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Directed by debutant Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, this Malayalam film is the story of a young scientist who leaves for Russia leaving his father all alone in his native town. He sends a robotic nurse from there to take care of his father who becomes so attached to the humanoid that he eventually runs away with the robot to a forest to live undisturbed for fear of being separated from him. 

OK Computer (2021)

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This six-part web series that had Radhika Apte, Jackie Shroff and Vinay Varma in the lead premiered on Disney+Hotstar. The series begins with the murder of a person by a self-driving car that has been programmed to carry out the gruesome act. Two detectives then join hands to apprehend the killer who happens to be a robot. Can this gentle robot be capable of murder? If artificial intelligence can work with other AI-based entities, what will be the implications for the humans?

As we can see, unlike in Hollywood which abounds in such kinds of films, they are rare in Indian cinema. The genesis for this particular genre in Hollywood probably started with the 1931 film Frankenstein which was considered one of the best films of the year and also one of the greatest movies of all time. But the credit for the idea should go to author Mary Shelley for her 1818 novel Frankenstein on which the movie was based. Victor, a young man and chemist born into a rich Genevan family develops a secret technique to impart life to non-living matter. Eventually, he ends up creating a giant hideous monster Frankenstein that he shuns. The monster also because of its form is spurned by all that it comes in contact with and develops anger towards its creator resulting in violent and tragic consequences.

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Mary Shelley was only 18 when she started writing the novel and was 20 when it was first published. It can only be put down to her genius as a writer that enabled her to come out with such a fantastic piece of work. In Indian philosophy, women are considered as ‘Shakti’, the supreme energy or vibration responsible for both creation and destruction. 

How apt then that it is a woman who first penned the idea of artificial intelligence, a parallel creation? And as far as the pros and cons of AI go, it’s best summed up by the character of Frankenstein himself from the novel when addressing Victor, he says:

I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel.

Updated date:  Friday, 24 Feb 2023 - 6:09 PM

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