The controversy surrounding its all-India release notwithstanding, ‘Vishwaroop’ is a straight-forward action entertainer, an anti-terrorism thriller with nothing of ‘issue’ to croak to the high-heavens about. In fact it’s been made with a lot more technical finesse and conviction than the recent movies about the RAW (starring the Khans), with the exception of the finely spun ‘Kahani’ of course, that we’ve been subjected to. It doesn’t have the usual Kamal Hassan gimmick to propel it but nevertheless has the smarts to keep the audience engrossed and entertained.
A hybrid cross between ‘Rab ne Bana di Jodi’ and several terrorism based films of the recent past, the plot actually delves slightly deeper into the life of an undercover RAW agent and spreads the development to a point tending to tedium, before reining back into unnecessary explanatory flashbacks and bringing about a thrilling and eventful climactic tussle between the forces of good and evil.
Kamal Hassan may not have the star draw of the Khan brigade of Bollywood but he most certainly comes across as smarter, more agile and far more convincing as a Research and Analysis Wing Major who goes undercover to foil a terrorist plot with malicious intent to destroy major cities of the world.
A typical spy thriller made for a pan-India audience (Telugu/ Tamil/ Hindi), this film has amalgamated its technical prowess by hiring American professionals straight from Hollywood. ‘Vishwaroopam’ is the first Indian film, and second film world-wide after ‘Red Tails’ (2012), to utilise the new Auro 3D sound technology. The film is also the first of its kind to opt for a release via direct-broadcast satellite, also known as direct-to-home (DTH), a concept which allows a one-time viewing on home entertainment systems for a fee of INR 1,000. So most of the firsts here are related to the marketing space and not exactly about content.
Viswanath (Kamal) is an effeminate dance instructor residing in New York city married to Dr Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), a nuclear oncologist who professes to her psychotherapist (Zarina Wahab) that she married him mainly to get a green card. Nirupama’s lustful feelings for her handsome young boss leads her to hire a private detective to follow her husband just so she can get find some dirt on him which can justify her desire to dissolve their alliance.
But things go horribly wrong as the detective is killed just after revealing that Nirupama’s husband is a muslim who goes by the name Taufiq. It’s only later when the bad guys scent trouble and send their posse to finish off the couple that the real state of affairs get clearer.
The exposition is extensive and the set-up quite intriguing but the development takes a little too long to unwind and by then tedium sets in. But Kamal does well to move swiftly into climax mode and pull off a stunning series of events that lead-up to a tension ridden ending. We’re not talking heart-in-the-mouth here. The tension is not exactly sharp but it’s interesting enough.
The performances are all pretty much accomplished. Especially Kamal – who transforms himself from an effeminate dancer to an intelligent, efficient, supremely agile, stunt-happy undercover RAW agent. And Rahul Bose who behaves with lethality without resorting to traditional gimmicks. The editing is quite spiffy when it comes to the action scenes but a little too indulgent when it involves expository set-up. The standouts here are the stunt choreography, and superbly designed sets by Thotta Tharani and the efficient cinematography by Sanu Verghese.