By Vivek Ramz
Kamal Haasan returns to direction after almost nine years with 'Vishwaroopam'. This big-budget flick, reportedly made on a budget of 95 crores went into issues right from the time Kamal decided to premiere the film on DTH before theatrical release. After much deliberation, he withdrew the idea and decided to go ahead with regular theatrical release first and DTH release after a week (Feb 2).
When the film neared its release date (Jan 25), the Tamil Nadu government banned the film for 15 days fearing law and order issues after few Muslim outfits demanded a ban. Kamal appealed against the ban in Madras High court and the decision is expected today. Meanwhile, the film released worldwide and other parts of India as scheduled, but this reviewer only finally managed to watch it in one of the theatres in Kerala.
What's it about?
The film opens with Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), a nuclear oncologist in a New York organization, confiding to a psychologist that her marriage to Viz aka Vishwanath (Kamal Haasan) is only one of convenience. She is put off by Kamal's effeminate characteristics (he's a Kathak dance teacher) and is attracted to her boss, Deepak (Samrat Chakrabarti). She hires a private investigator to find out Viz’s secrets and to her surprise, she finds out that Viz is a Muslim. From this point on, things turn topsy turvy for them.
Viz leads the investigator to a warehouse located on the outskirts of New York and escapes from there. A member of a terrorist outfit led by Omar, Al-Qaeda Terrorist (Rahul Bose) kills the investigator and the business card in his wallet leads them to Nirupama. They capture Nirupama & Viz along with Deepak and keep them in the warehouse. Omar finds out that Vishwanath is his old friend named Kashmiri, who got trained along with him in the terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Viz kills all the members of the group and escapes from the warehouse along with his wife before Omar & his companion (Jaideep Ahlawat) arrive there. Nirupama is shocked by the discovery that her husband is actually a RAW agent on a secret mission to discover plans of a terror attack planned by Omar & Co in New York. He's helped in this mission by his uncle (Shekhar Kapur), Ashmita, (Andrea Jeremiah) a dancer at his Kathak school and an American officer. Can Viz foil the terror plan in time?
The film takes its own time to make the plot apparent, but once it does, there is no looking back. The screenplay travels at jet speed and completely engages you with edge-of-the-seat stuff in a few scenes. Though the concept is inspired by English films, Kamal has developed the screenplay with his unique style and touch. The second half of the film proves his craft at a writer as the events go back and forth in time, revealing plot points in Afghanistan and New York and connecting them clearly. Though there are few loopholes in the script, Kamal stays true to the story without introducing too many commercial elements. Kamal’s dialogues are sharp and laced with mild humor in few places.
Casting is neatly done with a variety of actors from various parts of the world for this global film. Kamal simply blows you away with his acting skills and the way in which his body language changes during the transformation of Kathak dancer to RAW agent is to be seen rather than be told. Rahul Bose is not far behind and has given an excellent performance as the terrorist, Omar. Pooja Kumar is perfect as Nirupama and delivers what is expected out of her. Shekhar Kapur, Jaideep Ahlawat, Andrea Jeremiah and others support the leads well.
Technically, the film is solid. Though most of the crew is young and fresh, they have given their best. Cinematography by Sanu Varghese is top notch and captures the skyscrapers of New York beautifully and brings alive the terror camps of Afghanistan in Chennai. Much of the credit should go to Ilaiyaraja’s art work in recreating the sets with great detail. Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music blends perfectly with the mood of the film and the background score also adds value to the film. Mahesh Narayanan’s editing deserves special mention too as it helps in maintaining the tempo throughout the film.
Regarding the controversy around the film, there’s absolutely NOTHING that shows Muslims in a poor light. The film ends with the promise of a sequel and the setting will be in India this time.
What to do?
Overall, it’s a nicely made thriller and Kamal’s show all the way. Go and watch it in a theatre near you (assuming it releases soon in Tamil Nadu) or at least catch it on DTH in the coming week.
in.com rating: 3.5/5
For more news, reviews, photos and videos of Vishwaroopam, go here.
Vishwaroopam & other banned films
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Actress Kristen Stewart was reportedly nursing her broken heart by spending an entire day at singer Taylor Swift's house here.
Actor Brad Pitt says he wasted a lot of time using drugs in the past.
Singer Ricky Martin called Wednesday in a letter sent to the Puerto Rican House of Representatives for the legislative body to approve a bill which would prohibit discrimination due to sexual orientation on the island.
in.com had a quick chat with the director of Mere Haule Dost before the release of the movie on June 7. Excerpts from the interview: