Terrorism is no longer confined to a particular province, district or state. It’s a worldwide concern, affecting every nation in some way or the other. Kamal Haasan’s VISHWAROOP, therefore, is pertinent. This time around, the legendary actor helms a genre that’s very Hollywoodish and — here’s good news — he pulls it off quite well.
Attempting a nail-biting thriller can be tough. Scores of films have traversed the path in the past. However, Kamal Haasan shuns the tried and tested, humdrum stuff and comes up with a fare that prides itself of mesmerizing action, stunts and combat scenes and marries form [technique] and content [drama] to the delight of the spectators. The film is not without its share of hiccups — it’s way too lengthy and the second half is sketchy — but the effort is laudable, nonetheless.
America, 2012. A marriage of convenience. Vishwanath alias Wiz [Kamal Haasan], a Kathak exponent, and Nirupama [Pooja Kumar] get married. All is fine till Nirupama aspires for more and wants to opt out of the arranged marriage. She cannot cite any specific reason to leave Wiz as there is nothing much to complain about him.
Every male, according to Nirupama, must have a flaw. So she decides to find out something about him to feel better about her decision to part. She hires a detective to rake up something on him. Wires get cross-connected and all hell breaks loose.
VISHWAROOP starts off with gusto and Kamal Haasan ensures there’s hardly any dull moment in the first hour. The transformation from a graceful dance teacher to an agent as well as the back story involving the jihadis are proficiently amalgamated in the screenplay and executed by the storyteller, with the swift pacing and brisk unfolding of events/episodes acting as a cherry on the cake. The combat scenes, in fact, are the mainstay of the enterprise, with Kamal Haasan going all out — as an actor as well as the director — to make it appear real on the big screen.
But the post-interval portions lose focus. The writing isn’t persuasive in this hour, especially towards the middle of the second hour and even otherwise, the narrative seems prolonged towards the concluding stages [it's an open end, with Kamal Haasan declaring his ambitious plans for a sequel]. Besides, the resolution could’ve been far more dramatic and convincing. It isn’t!
Hollywood often illustrates the jihadis in a typical style and Kamal Haasan uses this template in VISHWAROOP as well. The ill-advised Afghanis and their cry for war against America seem straight out of a western flick. These sequences, coupled with the action stuff, keep you thoroughly involved. Like I pointed out earlier, the execution of several action/combat scenes is exemplary.
There’s no scope for the usual song and dance routine here, but the background score works well. Additionally, the movie gets brownie points in the technical department, right from shot designing to cinematography to the sound design. Also, Kamal Haasan and his art department deserve a pat for zeroing on some stunning locales.
Kamal Haasan has portrayed a wide variety of characters in his illustrious career and when you look back on his body of work, this act in VISHWAROOP is sure merit a spot amongst his finest works. He is incredible in the dance sequence at the very commencement of the film and changes colors like a chameleon as he takes to the death-defying stunts with passion. It won’t be erroneous to state that Kamal Haasan’s towering performance is one of the prime reasons why VISHWAROOP stands tall.
The film has an array of talented actors and each of them enact their parts with graceful ease. Rahul Bose is in top form. Why don’t we see this talented actor in more movies? Jaideep Ahlawat is an amazing talent and I am very sure, we will hear more of him in the future. Shekhar Kapur returns to the big screen in a charming cameo. Nasser gets into the skin of the character with gusto. Both Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah are adequate.
On the whole, VISHWAROOP is a Kamal Haasan show all the way. It has an interesting premise, superb combat scenes and Kamal Haasan’s bravura act as its three aces. But a stretched second hour and far from dramatic finale dilute the impact. Yet, all said and done, those with an appetite for well-made thrillers might relish this effort!