Let me make it very clear at the outset and this may be treated as the disclaimer. I have always been a huge admirer of #Kamal Hasan as an actor and pace him at a high pedestal with respect as a complete actor. I was somewhat miffed with him for his mis calculated attempt to gain publicity for his latest film Vishwaroopam by trying to exploit the democratic right to free thinking and free speech under the garb of an under dog and trying to whip emotional issues over what is basically a business project for him. I also aprreciate the fact that a movie project has the commercial element to address and the maker has to make necessary adjustments. It is very easy to review and criticise a movie but the efforts put in to make it are beyond question. As Kamal Hasan has not intended to hurt anybody in particular, I also do not intend to hurt his feelings or that that of his countless fans. Diehard Kamal fans may stop reading further and better watch the movie themselves.
Saw the movie in its Hindi version -#Vishwaroop last night at Max Cinema, Nerul. Despite the movie having its plus points, I was disappointed on the whole with it. The big weakpoints of the movie are its background music and the editing. Inspite of a very good camera work and a good screenplay,the narrative gets boring because some scenes are too long drawn. The visual effects are of high quality but does not leave a mark because the execution drags on for more than it is necessary.
The music is a total disappointment. It is very dramatic instead of being subtle.The eternal problem of the Indian filmmakers taking their audience as morons and trying to explain everything through dialogue,flashbacks and lyrics of the songs hamper the sophistication of the movie. When will they understand?
Coming to the movie plot,it is designed as a #terrorist thriller where the nefarious designs of a terrorist group to explode a dirty bomb in NY city is foiled by an Indian operative who lives a dual life unknown to his wife,who is much younger to him. Shades of Arnie's True Lies and Mission Impossible series. The technical portion of visual effects,action,location,design etc.match the international standards. But the storyline is very short and simple without too many twists or elements of suspense built so the length of the movie is a heavy burden to carry.
The harsh and stark #Afghan landscape are very well portrayed, almost in a documentary style and the restrain showed in depicting the jihadis is commendable. The action scenes are very good and the acting also matches it. There is a lot of dialogues in pashtu which makes the characters very realistic. The exploration of the jihadi psyche is however not fully done as the main story of the protagonist takes over in flashbacks. The dialogues are short and not sermonising. I believe that the full humour in the dialogues between the hero and his wife in the face of stress was somewhat lost in translation and maybe the Tamil version would be more interesting.
Another good point with the movie is that there is no item number, titillating sex scenes, mindless violence or unnecessary distractions which do not pertain to the main storyline. One should commend the makers to desist from the temptation of following the ageold formulas to lure audience. This is actually a very brave thing to do with such a high budget movie and all praise are due to Kamal for this.
Coming to Kamal Hasan himself, he has again shown what a great actor he is . He is one of the rare actors who his the master of all the Nava Rasas and integrates his body, voice, eyes and mind into his acting . Here also he has given a powerpacked performance. Particularly the scene where the real identity is revealed to his wife and the transformation from an effeminate dancer to a killing undercover agent through an action sequence is shown, is electric and stands out. But again, I was sad to note that the ravages of time has not spared him . From the slim and fit young man who ignited our imaginations in the late seventies and eighties , he is now a older person with jowls and paunch, both showing up. Though the character is that of a older person, it is clear that maybe he should take a hard look before doing action again.
After seeing the movie one will realise that why I said and still maintain that the recent controversy was a publicity gimmick gone awry. There is nothing in the movie which should offend anybody. You cannot expect to show Afghan jihadis and terrorists as Christians , Jews, Sikhs or Hindus. They have to be Muslims, isn't it ? And religious fanatics have to be depicted by their prayers, isn't it ? There is nothing wrong in that. Those who opposed the screening of this movie are a bunch of baboons . That's my personal take on the controversy.
Maybe I placed too much expectations on Kamal Hasan or the movie as I eagerly awaited it. The movie is well made, no doubt but it does not stay with you. There are very few scenes where applause from the audience is forthcoming inspite of the good work. The aura of a blockbuster is missing from the film. It does not match the emotional content of #Kabul Express when dealing with Afghans or Talibans. It does not even match the thrills and twists of terrorist chasing like Jaal-The Trap or Hero- The lovestory of a spy, both Sunny Deol starrers. It also does not evoke the feeling of grandeur which Shivaji or Robot did.
Then again maybe I expected too much from an aging actor who has now decided to become a better businessman. The movie is watchable for a good time pass . But you will not remember it like Chahchi 420, Thevar Magan, Nayakan, Sholvaa Shavan or even Ek duje ke liye. That's a great pity.