VISHWAROOP(2013)

vishwaroop-2012-6bOne of the biggest budgets ever in the history of Indian Cinema, Shot mostly in foreign locales, interesting premise and Kamal Hassan at the helm of things. What more could we ask for? The stakes were high and with news floating in of a possibility of banning the movie made it even more interesting and desirable. The movie has been due for release since 2012 and after much cacophony, Vishwaroop is finally here. As I sat with a packed house to watch this espionage thriller, I couldn’t even wait for the trailers to get out of the way.

Vishwanathan (Kamal Hassan) is a dance teacher in US teaching Indian classical dance. His wife Nirupama (Pooja Kumar) who married him

Kamal Hassan as Vishwanathan
Kamal Hassan as Vishwanathan

just to get her hands on the green card is looking for an opportunity to break up with him and settle down into comfort with his boss. She hires a detective to find out if Vishwanathan had any dirty little secrets. However the detective’s involvement in Vishwanathan’s routine blows the lid off an international conspiracy to detonate a nuclear bomb in the US and introduces Nirupama to a husband she didn’t know existed. Vishwaroop travels back and forth in time to show us Vishwanathan’s past and reveals that he might be the only person capable of stopping a truly creepy terrorist, Omar (Rahul Bose) who has lost his whole family to US attacks in Afghanistan. In his mission, Vishwanathan is aided by a charming Intelligence official Shekhar Kapoor and a supremely comfortable Andrea Jeremiah as Ashmita.

Rahul Bose as Omar
Rahul Bose as Omar

The story starts off with a bang. The proceedings are not simple yet they can be followed if one applies himself. The introduction of Kamal Hassan as a soft and girly dance master who is willing to coexist with a cheating and rude wife is interesting. His subsequent transformation in the matter of a few scenes into a ruthless assassin will shock many and bring about some serious applause. At least that was the case with the theater where I was watching it. But then something happens which take the matter haywire. The prolonged flashback which establishes the genesis of our Vishwanathan also sets up the antagonist, Omar. The sequences here start dragging and after a while we start feeling as though the story is not moving ahead at all. The attack of the US troops sets the ball rolling again but further flash backs again play a spoil sport. The worst part of it remains that till the end, the animosity between the protagonist and the antagonist is not set up. We are not shown the actual reason for Omar’s distorted state and how Vishwanathan contributed to that.

I felt that the film lacked a few dramatic punches in the first half especially during the US raid and again towards the end. The whole tension sort off just fizzled out like an open bottle of coke. The antagonist just never threatens the protagonist or pulls him down to the wire for that matter. Omar is scary and believable and yet he is unable to instill the fear in the audience primarily because of the fact that he can’t bring down the hero. The action sequences are limited and so had to be really powerful to make an impact which unfortunately it doesn’t. The three avatars of Kamal Hassan work but he falters in the action sequences primarily because of his age and somewhat tacky wire techniques used.

Shekhar Kapoor and Pooja Kumar
Shekhar Kapoor and Pooja Kumar
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Rahul Bose during the climax

The background score is another huge letdown. A subject like this with a larger than life persona taking center stage needed a pulsating background score. But Vishwaroop’s Background score is anything but that. The cinematography is beautiful. It is able to capture the mood and feel of the movie. The desert sequences of Afghanistan shot in Jordan look the prettiest. The editing is apt but the editor could have easily experimented with the format and alignment of the sequences to give the story some interesting takes and perspective but Mahesh Narayan doesn’t risk it. The result is a technically correct but uninspiring narrative style.

Kamal Hassan leads from the front in his trademark flamboyant style. He is the heart and soul of the movie. Take him out of Vishwaroop and there is very little left. The audiences will love his performance. Rahul Bose is a revelation. Even though his character is belittled in the face of our domineering hero, he makes his presence felt in many scenes. I loved his initial entry and then the change of his personality during the flashback. The sequence after his family is wiped out where he breaks down and questions the Jihad is also neatly done. Pooja Kumar does well in a role which demanded only for her to be surprised and shocked every 10 minutes. Shekhar Kapoor and Andrea Jeremiah are apt. I just felt that may be this wasn’t the right film for Shekhar Kapoor to come out of such a prolonged retirement. Then again “Vadde log Vaddi Batein”

Overall, Vishwaroop is a one time watch at best that too because of a scintillating Kamal Hassan and more than ok Rahul Bose. The story is also gripping in part but if  compared with Hassan’s earlier works and achievements, Vishwaroop is bound to disappoint.

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