Jan
30
2013

Review: Vishwaroopam – Wish you were a fan

Before I say anything I absolutely have to gloat & say this, I CAN HAZ VISHWAROOPAM! Now a majority of the folks reading this are yet to see the movie and at the time of writing this post, the movie is still banned in Tamil Nadu. Let us start with the assumption, you know Kamal is an indian agent who infiltrates an Al-Qaeda camp and later tries to stop their operations in NY disguised as an effeminate tambrahm kathak dancer. This is not a spoiler, if you could not gather this much from the trailers then you should start watching bhojpuri films instead. Now I shall give you a moment to take that last line but that is truly the crux of the movie with subplots and gaping holes woven into it. I say that because it seems almost schizophrenic when one scene makes you stand up & take notice for how well it was done and then immediately followed up by a can-you-pass-me-the-weed-you-were-smoking scene. I absolutely wanted to watch the movie because I felt it could either be awesome or a ginormous blade, either ways it would be a fun ride for me. My problem is that it ended up being in the middle and that makes it difficult for me to put my thoughts around it. Asking me if it was better than Dasavataram is very very wrong, because that’s like comparing the Afghanistan cricket team to New Zealand.

Kamal’s character makes you wonder if he’s been spending time with Abbas-Mastaan. We start out with an effeminate tambrahm kathak teacher who marries a PhD student so that she can get a visa. Why does a student have to be on a dependent visa and what kind of visa does a kathak teacher come under? Just as you’re trying to come to terms with that, they tell you that he’s a muslim dude with an Al-Qaeda leader out to get him. Aha just when you thought it to be a case of mistaken identity, they hit you in the head and tell you that he’s trained with the Al-Qaeda. Oh so maybe he’s an ex-jihadi who had a change of heart, but no! One tight
slap
for you
One tight slap for you because he’s now an Indian agent who was just playing you all this while. We’re still not sure if that is the truth because they tell you that there’s a Part-2 coming and given Kamal, there could be three more character twists in store! So there’s no explanation to why his character takes these twists or any back stories to go with them. It feels like licking the peel of a raw banana and the aftertaste that refuses to leave you for the next 2hrs. On the other hand Rahul bose is just a jihadi leader who wants to blow up NY and avenge the death of his family in a drone attack. They even make up for his lack of acting skills by giving him a fake eye, burnt face and limited movement in the buccal cavity. Pooja Kumar didn’t have much to do but stand with her mouth agape as the events unfolded before her, her bosom got ample screen time though. Her only role in the movie apart from wearing eye-popping silk nightwear is rattling the atomic number of Cesium and its properties. Kamal is known to let the audience interpret major parts of his movies and sadly the Pooja Kumar character is there to dumb that down and break it down for you. The remaining characters have nothing to do in the movie other than getting IMDb mentions, it’s a shame but hopefully they’ll have something to do in Part-2.

There are no mindless songs in the movie, which is a good thing. But the Al-Qaeda portions drag a tad too long and after a while you wonder if you’re watching a documentary on the hunt to
find Osama instead
documentary on the hunt to find Osama instead. The action sequences are done very well and the CG work seems believable unlike the giant tsunami in Kamal’s previous ego-massage-fest. The afghan landscape shots are visually stunning but also give Kamal ample room to tear up at all the destruction around him. There’s way too much gore, severed heads and blood which makes me wonder how the hell did the censors give it a U/A certificate? The real outrage must not be against why the censors okayed the so-called anti-muslim dialogs but should infact question their logic on not giving it a straight A certificate. The movie theater where I saw this movie was teeming with kids, you could be mistaken thinking that they were there for a showing of the lion king movie. Seriously I wonder what those parents were thinking when they brought their kids to this movie. The kids were gasping in horror at the severed heads and all their parents said was to close their eyes. Anybody can make a mistake and end up at the wrong movie expecting a lot less violence, but when you see a man blow up on screen, you better walk out of the theater with you kids in tow. To the parents who brought their kids to vishwaroopam, May you be locked in a dark room for 3 days with death metal playing on full blast. Sadly there’s not much good or bad to write about the movie and if not for the outrage & religious tamasha that is going on this would have been just an average movie that crawled its way to the 100cr club. It gets my vote because I feel that good or bad a movie still deserves a chance to be screened & judged by the junta not lawmakers and political groups. Kamal may have taken a huge gamble with the 90cr budget, but he deserves a fair chance to fail and that is why I’m behind this movie.

If the movie never gets released then I have thought of ways on how Kamal could try selling portions of it instead. With a few more songs, the opening portion could be sold as a kathak lecture demonstration. Pooja Kumar’s portions could be a longish segment on intimate silk innerwearlongish segment on intimate silk innerwear, maybe could be broken in to 5-6 30sec commercials. Then there’s the obvious 90minute documentary on Al-Qaeda training camps and their rejection of western medication. We could also manage to scrape out a tourist guide to NYC featuring popular tourist attractions with special mentions to stay away from the pigeons. They may not kill you to radiation exposure but they sure can poop on your foreheads. The movie can also be marketed as study material to film schools on how not to shoot a two-part movie. Now if kamal had shot a 5hr movie and then split it into two parts that would have been brilliant, or if atleast he had shot it such that each part ends with some closure. Here it almost seems like kamal had a 5hr movie in his mind, could only shoot portions of it due to various constraints and then at the editors table realized how many holes it had. How do you cover this up, promise the audience that it will all make sense in Part-2! The end is probably the weakest and even hilarious given the fact that it involves a master terrorist, a top Indian agent & the FBI! You know the feeling when you’re watching a BAN-NZ game because you have nothing better to do & it goes into the last over with 12runs to win and the power goes out right then. Yeah that!

It is still a landmark movie for tamil cinema, visually slick, CG done right, an action thriller(atleast some parts) that deserves to be seen because only the box-office has the right to defeat a film not lawmakers and political groups.

 

https://twitter.com/maxdavinci/status/295669306895769600

 

(Image Courtesy: Mid-Day)

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3 Comments + Add Comment

  • Its shocking that you think Rahul Bose has no acting skills. But then, you’re pardoned cuz you only watch trashy films.
    I got specifically irritated with them portraying americans as exceptionally dumb people. Felt it was overdone.

  • I liked the review.

    Some points
    He is a RAW agent. So he can get into NY even if he has “trained” al qaeda
    I think Kathak dancer is a strech. but whatever disguise he choose would be lame as well
    (Maybe effeminate so he doesnt need to have bodily relation with pooja character…
    I wouldnt have opted for this had i been the agent :)

    Also it is inspired by Arjuna in virata parva in mahabharatham…so symbolism ?)

    Rahul bose: Actually i liked him. And Jaideep. Very good pairing in my opinion.

    My only complaints:
    a) Last part of movie (not the final teaser) where FBI cracks jokes etc.
    If only they had done that part from the american POV…
    and then Kamal slowly revealing the distractions part, it would have been interesting

    b) Kamal’s macro-expressions in Afghanistan when he feels for their plight. He could have opted for better expressions to show it.

    when u r an agent you are part of that disguise. You dont need to shrug your shoulders and show your contempt.

  • Loved the review! I do not get how the brain behind Anbe Sivam thought it acceptable to hide behind technical soundness after writing a messy story with painful stereotypes, countless cliches and now the super old and irksome”endha kadavul” dialogue. My face was caught between a disbelieving laugh and “dho paar pei” expression when they started walking towards the audience with the promise of a part 2. ack.
    Disappointing story-telling :(

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