Vishwaroopam is Kamal Haasan’s most genuine and sincere attempt till date. Kamal Haasan’s hardwork as actor and director is evident in every scene. Kamal deserves kudos for making a truly Hollywood style thriller set against the backdrop of terrorism without hurting any religious sentiments. In Tamil, Vishwaroopam is first of its kind in dealing with a truly global topic and not deviating from the core theme for even a minute. Kamal has done his best to keep the audience glued to their seats almost throughout the movie.
Since the movie will not release in Tamil Nadu until next few days, we are extra cautious in not revealing any spoilers in this review to preserve the viewing pleasure for our readers.
Kamal – The Director
Kamal shows a lot of maturity as a technically savvy director. Many of the subtle emotions are conveyed visually instead of lengthy dialogues. The way the title card is shown prepares you for the unhurried steady pacing in which the knots will be revealed. The casting looks believable for most of the characters even though the director could not extract much in the form of acting.
The movie also has interesting ‘mass’ elements that will have audience go gaga when Kamal shows off his stunts when he brings down a dozen of his opponents in style. Kamal infuses comedy in the scenes without going overboard where he gets tortured and beaten up by his captors. Kamal Haasan’s dialogues are crisp, intelligent and laced with humour.
Kamal – The Actor
Kamal brings down the house in his role as the effeminate Kathak dancer during the first segment. Kamal’s range of expressions and body language are a delight to watch. Kamal’s dance, when he teaches his Kathak students, will leave you awe-struck and will make you admire his proficiency in the classical form of dance. Kamals underplays in the second segment where you see him as one of the terrorists in Afghanistan. In the second half, Kamal’s transforms to look more dynamic, younger and brings in more heroism.
Pooja Kumar looks attractive with her sharp features. Pooja provides the comic relief with her timing and her line of questioning. Her characterization is a pit perplexing and it is not clear whether she is really cheating on her husband. Pooja’s strong brahminical dialect blended with perfect American accent is interestingly conceived. She has an important role in the climax portions.
Andrea is graceful in her opening Kathak dance song along with Kamal. She looks fresh and wish she had more screen space along with Kamal. Rahul Bose has an important role as the main terrorist. He performs well as Omar who tries to unleash terror in the city of New York. However, Rahul doesn’t come across as a strong antagonist for Kamal. Shekhar Kapur, Nassar and rest of the casts appear out of place due to dubbing. Watch out for the role of Osama Bin Laden making a brief appearance in the movie.
Music and Technicalities
Songs and Background music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy are situational and aid the story. Cinematography by Sanu Varghese is disciplined and maintains a consistent tone in New York and Afghanistan portions. Art direction deserves special mention for recreating the Afghan terrain, houses and interiors in Chennai. One would notice the special care taken by the sound design department in many of the scenes. The fight choreography and the bomb blast scenes showing the activation of bomb from another building is highly impactful.
There are no controversial scenes in the movie as far as one could tell. It is a lot less controversial than many other Tamil and Hindi movies that were released in the past. The movie shows young muslims in Afghanistan picking up guns and becoming suicide bombers.
If anybody who needs to be offended is it should be Hindus because there is a scene where an American cop questioning Pooja about how Hindu Gods with four hands can be crucified. Pooja responds by saying we only dunk our Gods in the sea. Also, there are reasons for Brahmins to be offended as Kamal calls Andrea “paapathiyama” and hands over a chicken asking her whether the meat is cooked well. Even Americans would have reasons to be upset for showing many scenes of Ex-President George Bush’s placard/poster being used for target practice for the terrorists.
The second segment of the first-half which is shown as happening in Afghanistan appears a bit stretched and the screenplay should have been slicker. The movie from start to finish doesn’t peak. Rahul Bose as antagonist is not menacing enough despite all his efforts with his disfigured looks and voice. The acting by a number of new faces is not natural, hindering the narration. This may not be such a novel story nor setting for many of our Hindi audiences since it is already explored in movies like New York and Kurbhaan. Despite these minor issues, the movie is really worth your patience at times.
Kamal has made a sincere attempt at making a quality movie. Please watch it only in Theatres (or DTH) and curb your curiosity to watch it in online piracy prints. This is the least you could do for a man who has dedicated himself for more than five decades for Tamil cinema!