Vishwaroop – 2013 [Movie Review]

Vishwaroop - Kamal Hassan

Kamal Hassan’s terrorist ass kicking magnum opus Vishwaroop has been doing the rounds for all the wrong reasons. Let me begin with this; it didn’t offend me at all. And to all those dumb-nuts shouting for their 15 seconds of fame to ban this, what is your problem ? Did you have a problem with an Indian muslim going underground to mingle with the Taliban? Or was it Kamal Hassan’s choice of Kathak over BharatNatyam, or his hair-style that left you cold? Leaving all the controversy hoopla aside, does the movie add up to all the hype? After all, even though Kamal Hassan has been a big sensation down south, this is an actor who is way past his prime. And I say that even after being a big fan of his work. Vishwaroop does get quite a few things right, but there’s a lot to chew here, and most of it is bland.

WARNING: This review has some spoilers.

Plot summary: It is the story of RAW agent Wisam (Kamal Hassan), who goes underground to meet up AlQaeda operatives in their training camp in Afghanistan. There he meets Omar (Rahul Bose) and Salim (Jaideep Ahlawat). He even gets a glimpse of Osama, and then gets to fight against American troops. The action then shifts to modern day New York, where Omar and Salim have set up camp in a warehouse, and have smuggled in some nuclear material, and are planning to blow up the city. It is up to Wisam to save the day.

Now what part of that plot sounded innovative? None, zilch! We live in a world where Bournes and Ethan Hunt movies are made every year. And global threat is what Liam Neeson has for breakfast. Having said that, when our good ol’ Vishwa (also Kamal Hassan) in his effeminate avatar, transforms into the bad-ass RAW agent in ultra slo-mo, and kicks asses to the rhythm of water drops, you can’t help but do a fox-whistle. It is one of the movies best scenes.

THE GOOD:

Vishwaroopam - Kamal Hassan action

The action sequences are choreographed well, and even though Kamal Hassan looks his age, he somehow manages to sell it. From parkour sequences on the Afghan village roof tops, to sandstorm shoot-outs, there are many explosions to keep you engaged.

There’s also enough to be learnt here, or at least Wiki-ed – from Ceasium radioactive properties, to Faraday shields. It is good to see, someone did their research.

The gore is relentless, and it was a revelation to see that in an Indian movie. There’s bodies flying – in full and halves, blood spattering just about everywhere. It even has a murdered Nigerian terrorist, lying in his own pool of blood, with the phone ringing in his pocket, sending ripples to the blood pool. Visually, Vishwaroop is right on the money.

Credit where credit’s due – Kamal Hassan does not strut away to his glory. His presence is not overpowering like a commanding superstar. He is a RAW agent – and he plays it that way – unlike *cough TIGER cough*. Apart from Kamal Hassan, the only other actor who impresses the most is Jaideep Ahlawat as Salim. There is something about his evil grin that creeps the beejeezus out of me.

THE BAD:

Pooja Kumar as Vishwa’s wife Nirupama, is bloody annoying. She reacts completely unnatural in life-threatening situations, and has an attention seeking problem. She has got a doctorate in nuclear oncology – so that means our leading lady is not your typical damsel in distress. And how is it put into use? She knows what a microwave can do! [That scene reminded me of the refrigerator in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull].

Also, what is with her love life? She says her marriage is one of convenience. And she’s having an affair with her boss. But they haven’t done it yet?  Has she ever had sex then ? I just think it is sad and bad.

The remaining cast of the Team RAW is so underused, that it is almost laughable. Shekhar Kapur has a cumulative sum of two lines, and Andrea Jeramiah just evaporates between scenes. There is a Sardar Indian Embassy leader who just shows up for a isshhmail moment.  Speaking of which, the biggest d..d..d..DUMB portrayal of all here is of the FBI. I will not say anything more than what already has been said by many. How the hell did the FBI manage to walk into a suspected nuclear bomb region without any protection, explosive experts, or even Mulder and Scully ?!? Indian PhD: 1, FBI: 0

THE UGLY:

Viswaroopam - Kamal Hassan

One eyed Rahul Bose , with a husky voice , porous skin, and a twisted jaw is not menacing at all, and is unintentionally hilarious. And with physical deformation, comes the responsibility of hamming it up, which Bose does, like his life depended on it.

The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is just appalling. It’s like Abhay revisited.

And whoever approved Kamal Hassan’s get-up for the effeminate Vishwa needs to be hit in the groin with a microwave.

This is a 2.5 hr long film – and it just does not justify its length. Almost 30 minutes of it could have been easily edited out , and it would have been a compact, action packed package, and we wouldn’t have been left clamouring over its flaws. But wait, even after that, there’s part 2 coming soon. So more of Omar and Salim in India. And more of annoying Nirupama, who has apparently joined the gang, and now has a trademark leather jacket to suit everyone else. I don’t tend to put in emoticons in my review, but :|

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It is obvious how much time and effort and money Kamal Hassan has invested in his home production. And for all those efforts, the finished product has a lot of visual polish. If only for that, Vishwaroop /Vishwaroopam needs to be seen. Watch it as a bit more serious Ek Tha Tiger, but not Zero Dark Thirty, and you might end up enjoying it.

OKS Rating: 2.5 Faraday Shields Out of 5

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