“Vishwaroopam”… Terror messages

I’m sorry, but as a Tam-Brahm I must insist on the immediate ban of Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam. Firstly, this film glorifies Islam, portraying the Muslim as an upstanding specimen who won’t think twice before punishing a wrongdoer from his own faith. And who do we have to represent Tam-Brahms? The annoying Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), that’s who. Let’s begin with her locutions, filled with an insulting amount of exaggeration. Why does so young a person – she looks like a twentysomething yuppie – who’s settled in New York City pepper her speech with deeply traditional idiomatic usage like vidiya vidiya Ramayanam kettuttu… and kenaru vetta boodham…? She sounds like she’s been teleported from Mylapore in the 1870s. And she likes to dine on chicken? And she slips into cleavage-revealing lingerie before retiring to bed? And she’s having an extramarital affair? And she’s spilling her secrets to a therapist? Who is this… infidel, and why is she pretending to be a Tam-Brahm?

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And what about her husband, Vishwanath (Kamal Haasan), who’s not just openly derided as a cuckold but is also an effeminate dancer? What kind of self-respecting Tam-Brahm forgoes Bharatanatyam for Kathak? Or walks in so mincing a manner, occasionally raising a pinkie? Or answers the phone with a chirpy “Mrs. and Mr. Vishwanath,” putting his wife so obviously ahead? And allows his sexuality to be doubted to the extent that his cheating wife sets a private eye on him so that she can get a reason for leaving him? (When this detective phones her to say her husband is doing something shady, she confidently retorts that it cannot be another woman; she also labels their union a marriage of convenience.) This film, thus, is an equal-opportunity offender, deriving unintentional comedy from Tam-Brahm women and emasculating Tam-Brahm men. If that isn’t grounds for a ban all across Tamil Nadu and Matunga, I don’t know what is.

All jokes apart – and you did know I was joking, right? You didn’t take offence, right? – the surprise about Vishwaroopam is how straightforward it is, given Kamal Haasan’s track record. (It’s basically a big, dumb action movie, but with smarts.) What hasn’t changed, though, is the actor’s ongoing attempt to carve out for himself, within the commercial-film mould, some space where he can be the hero as well as be more than just a hero. So we have, on the one hand, the kind of boosterism that no Tamil-film hero can do without, as when an awestruck FBI agent asks Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri (also Kamal Haasan), “Who the hell are you?” Then there’s the godliness of the name Vishwanath, which points to the divine manifestation suggested by the title. And, of course, there’s all the express heroism, a Tamilian who doesn’t just operate within his home state or the nation but whose heroics play out on a global stage – in a New York City that the jihadi villain Omar (Rahul Bose, in fine scenery-chewing form) threatens to contaminate with radioactivity.

For a while now, Kamal Haasan’s films have acknowledged the interconnectedness of the nation – the Telugu-speaking love interest of Nammavar, the Oriya native of Anbe Sivam, the Bengali wife of Hey Ram, the cocktail of pan-Indian characters in Dasavatharam. But of late, we have seen an increasing interest in the world beyond India. In Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Kamal Haasan’s character got himself an American colleague, and in the Europe-set Manmadhan Ambu, he was married to a Frenchwoman. Vishwaroopam is very much of a piece with the actor-director’s recent work – the characters hail from Kashmir, Mayavaram, Afghanistan, America; there’s even someone from Nigeria. And this means, for one thing, that we have to deal with Tamil spoken with a glut of accents. It’s clear why this is necessary – because the film is in Tamil, and so that we register, at the same time, a semblance of foreignness, that this film is taking place outside Tamil Nadu, and with non-Tamils. But the ultimate effect is distracting. The film, for obvious commercial reasons, cannot feature extensive subtitles under characters speaking their own language – but how can we not giggle?

Other Kamal Haasan staples are amply evident, like the writer’s unflagging determination to interpolate into his screenplays segues to pet philosophies (about God, Hitler), technology (nuclear oncology, Faraday shields) sexual hints (a wife walks in on her husband being unzipped by another woman), outré props (a Mughal-era dagger, nitroglycerin pills, pigeons that are decidedly not agents of peace, and even unceasingly dripping water), and a wicked sense of humour. The film opens with a warning (given recent happenings, this sounds completely tongue-in-cheek) that the events here bear resemblance to what’s happening in the world today, and that those with delicate constitutions should steel themselves up for what lies ahead. And the film’s finest visual gag is also its grisliest – a cell phone vibrating through congealed blood. Speaking of blood, is there another Indian actor who so loves being smashed to a bloody pulp on screen? In other words, fans will cheer him on; non-fans, as always, will find it all unbearably pretentious.

But this cannot be denied. Vishwaroopam is further proof that Kamal Haasan is much more interesting, these days, as a writer-director than as an actor (he gives a typically solid performance; it’s just that, given the span of his career, we’ve seen it all before) – and the film’s finest stretch takes place in a jihadi settlement in Afghanistan, with the portions in Pashto subtitled in Tamil. Where Tamil-cinema villains are usually demonised, these militants are humanised. Amongst the suicide bombers and opium traders, we see an asthmatic wife, a young boy who dreams of being a doctor, a father fluent in English but who doesn’t want his son to grow up speaking the language of the infidels, families and friends who smile and pose for photographs, teams of volleyball players, a mission-ready lad who sits on a swing and enjoys what are surely his last days of life. We also see the other side – bullets on weighing scales, being sold by the kilo, and a father’s pride when his blindfolded son can feel an automatic and identify it as an AK-47.

And this is where the other aspect of Kamal Haasan’s character comes in, where he’s more than just a hero. In this section, he recedes to the background, playing a supporting actor’s part, while Omar occupies centre stage. A regular masala movie would never stand for this, especially one featuring such huge action set pieces. Even towards the end, it isn’t exactly the hero who saves the day (which also plays into the fact that few people in this “double role”-heavy film are who they seem to be; if only they’d been better actors as well). The story doesn’t offer anything new, but these small subversions make the leisurely paced Vishwaroopam more than just another entry in the ticking-clock genre, where we wait breathlessly for the villain to be vanquished before everything goes boom. And the end isn’t so much about closure as a cessation. Our feeling at the end of these movies, usually, is that of relief, that the world is safe. Here, our emotions are a little less cheery: the world is safe… for now.

An edited version of this piece can be found here.

Copyright ©2013 The Hindu. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

109 thoughts on ““Vishwaroopam”… Terror messages

  1. How does every hardcore terrorist in the world speak Tamil flawlessly but people north of Vindyas struggle? Remember Roja and now this. I hope I didnt offend any Tamizh speaking kudimagan
    Kamal also has to show off – he just couldn’t resist to repeat the “breakout” scene in the movie in slow motion
    I went to this movie with very low expectations after the disaster called Dashavataram and I must say it is Kamal’s best efforts in the recent years

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  2. Super da ambi … Besh besh … Goin to watch it Monday Badi

    Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

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  3. ” ‘Vishwaroopam 2′ is in its pre-production phase. I’ll start shooting for it very soon,” Kamal, 58, said at the screening ……..The sequel will be completely shot in India” says a very concerned TOI.

    Ye Gods!! A franchise !!!!!Next time he plays a Kathakali artiste fighting Bodo rebels with help from Shinto priests and Swedish masseurs (lots of offended Bodos frown).

    I caught the movie in Kerala (where we didn’t agitate over it),found it top notch masala with the ususal KH set pieces(as you so vividly spelt out) and agree that it might have been a tad better with more competent actors.

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  4. So many points to write… I couldn’t agree more in the amount of annoyance nirupama induced or was that Dr.Nirupama? And this is where I have problems with kamal as a director. He puts his ideologies and philosophies before the plot. He finds an incessant need to stuff his outofplace thoughts into an otherwise neat script. That is his biggest failure.

    Also like the reviewer in live mint says this part is not complete on its own and that is simply not fair. Or like gangs of wasseypur he shd have released both together. Trying to tie the pieces in end credits is so rushed and worthless.

    Why the need to elevate tamil cinema to Hollywood? I can understand elevating it in terms of organic story telling and taut screenplays but why place it in NYC? The A center audience has seen more of these movies in English so this comes across as shoddy and amateur. For the B & C this is clear OHT. I would prefer kamal to stick to roots like Thevar Magan.. The more local you get the more global the movie flies.(point in case aadukalam, subramaniapuram).

    The accents like you aptly pointed out were laughable. But that can be brushed aside as a requirement. But the romance between husband and wife over a faraday shield is shabba. C’mon Mr. ulaganayagan!

    All in all vishwaroopam was not a class apart or anything on those lines. Just regular good guys winning over bad guys with some neat action sequences, one class kathak performance and Osama. #headdesk!

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  5. LOL! I liked the first para and overall a great review. I don’t know what the fuss was all about, a crappy film in the lines of Dasavatharam, only marginally better. Pooja kumar reminded me of the equally annoying Asin of Dasavatharam. VR should have been banned for being rubbish and I hope Kamal retires, can’t take that egomaniac any more.

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  6. Aha! This post is sure as hell going to be treated with a whole slew of unsolicited opinions in the lines of “Br, i am just leaving a comment so that i can tell you what a prejudiced brahmin fuckass you are”. :D

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  7. I couldn’t sit through Dasavataram for all that I adore Kamal (I thought it had too many Kamals), but I have been looking forward to this one. If you add that I laughed my way through the silly Vikram back when I was in school, you will know how much I can tolerate by way of masala. I agree he does try different things; love him or hate him, he cannot be ignored. I hope it releases in the theatre nearby. I’d like to watch this on the big screen.

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  8. I liked it. A slick, well made (by Tamil movie standards) thriller shorn of the usual Masala tropes (translation: Lovers of Alex Pandian and Kanna Bhagyaraj Kathayai Tiruda Aasaiya can stay at home pretending Murugadoss is a real director).

    I saw the Torrent copy which I guess is uncut and probably features a little more God-Invocations and prayer mat kneeling than the version you saw, but the movie itself feels…incomplete (there’s still gaps in the flashback portion I think) which I guess/hope will be addressed in the sequel.

    For me, Kamal is still the only INTERESTING working actor in Tamil movies today. Note: Not the best, or original or consistent. But interesting.

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  9. I am yet to see the film, but from what I’ve heard about it(from you as well as others), its depiction of Tam-brahms marks a new low-point in Tamil cinema’s generally perverse and malicious attitude towards the community. And, knowing Kamal’s track record of trying to prove himself as more-Dravidian-than-the-Dravidians, he probably did not, as you seem to have graciously taken it, mean the characterisations to be taken as just another tam-brahm-spoofing segment like in hundreds of other tamil films. The level of attention to detail that you suggest has gone into these characters suggest a deliberate intention to not just insult but try to see how just much insult these tam-brahms would put up with. I see that you have chosen to ignore the paapathi reference. In light of recent events(and zillions of not-so-recent ones), it is not difficult to imagine the uproar that would have erupted if the paapathi-eating-chicken had been a thulukachi-eating-pork.

    Having said that, one is left to wonder whether this is just tam-brahms staying true to their caricatures or (as I suspect) just too busy with their own individual lives to care?

    In 1936, during the Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany, tourists were shocked to find blatantly anti-semitic attitudes being bandied about by common Germans as if they were the gospel truth. Even before “legal” extermination of Jews began, they were subject to the kind of ridicule and low-level persecution that a “German” would never face. From media caricatures of black caftan-clad rabbis polluting the German society to open diatribes against Jewish culture in German politics, the Jew was an outcast in every aspect of German life. Unfortunately, like the Tam-brahms now, the Jews chose to grin and bear it all, hoping that better times would come and they would eventually come to be regarded as part of the larger society. All they got was Hitler.

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  10. “Speaking of blood, is there another Indian actor who so loves being smashed to a bloody pulp on screen?”

    On that note is there another actor-director who so delights in putting flawed women as his heroines? Manisha (Mumbai Xpress) was a politician’s mistress with an illegitimate child, Asin (Dasavatharam) was annoying and petulant.Pooja cuckolds her husband with her boss. His women are rarely perfect, but they feel so…real. And sexual.

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  11. Oh and one more thing…I drew parallels between the Afghan scenes in this movie and the 12th century portion in Dasavatharam. Both are the best segments in their respective movies and I’d have gladly enjoyed a movie just devoted to them. It’s the segues to present day NY where large holes appear in the screenplay that weigh the movie down IMHO (oh..and I would have excised the embarasing FBI interrogation scenes completely)

    VR reminds me of Ayirathil Oruvan, another enormously interesting movie as they both look like there’s a 5 hour cut somewhere that needed to be viciously trimmed when the director realized that he had to end it….somehow and chose to end it abruptly.

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  12. Good review. I think you summarized this perfectly. “Big dumb action movie with smarts”. But I still dont understand him moving so far away from the movie’s logline. The Afghan bit went too far outside the goal of the movie. “Osama Bin Laden” ??? So he had led the US troops to Bin Laden by being the guy on the inside. I understand that everything has to be big, but that part seemed stretched.

    Although, if one carefully looks at what is coming VR2, ( as shown at the end ) – Kamal is shot by Rahul Bose character, is air lifted by US troops, he prevents Nasser from shooting down a US copter, is seeing parachuting into Afghan territory etc. Maybe all of this comes together in VR2, but to me, the screenplay seemed incomplete OR too much subtelity for major plot points.

    BUT A MUST WATCH….( seen it 3 times :) ).

    http://padysrini.wordpress.com

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  13. The films finest stretch takes place in Afghanistan? You were joking there right. If not, you should be banned from writing reviews! :-)

    Have we not seen in form or the other where innocent, cherubic teens / pre-teens being used as part of suicidal missions? Have we not seen scenes where they enjoy a simple pleasure only scenes later to blown to bits? And, what about Nasser – screaming Amrikkkaaaaans all the time.

    Sorry, that part did not work at all for me and neither did the rest of the movie.

    You say that Kamal Hassan is much more interesting these days as writer director (and I did agree about Manmadhan Anbu), but here Andrea does absolutely nothing in the movie. She is there with the hero all along (the NY portions) and does nothing. Why make her tag along with the hero and make her do nothing?

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  14. The FBI agent ill-treats Wizam but when he finds out who he actually is, he seeks an apology (Shekhar says apology is not warranted as Wizam completely understands where the FBI agent came from). And then when Wizam speaks to PM, the FBI agent cannot hide his surprise and asks him, “Who are you, Man?”. This is logically necessary as the FBI agent leys Wizam enter the climax action scene. Otherwise, why would any FBI agent let an Indian secret agent to be a pary of his team?
    In other words, why should we watch a Kamal Haasan action film where the hero is not part of the action climax?

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  15. After all of that – This film is actually boring , indulgent film making . Cut the flab off the movie and off Mr Hassan , and then we are talking.

    Re- Pooja Kumar and Andrea , the less said the better.

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  16. JPhilip: Actually, with Kamal’s dialogues and all, you need good actors to put the character through, and here it was unclear if the wife was comic relief and therefore intentionally drawn that way (but then she isn’t a bimbo towards the end), or what else. Two actresses who handled Kamal-isms really well were Abirami and Rohini in “Virumaandi.”

    meera: “He puts his ideologies and philosophies before the plot.” That’s true, but with the right actors, it comes off very well and doesn’t intrude. But spoken by Trisha, Asin, Andrea etc…. it sounds really weird. That interrogation scene here was the low point.

    KayKay: “VR reminds me of Ayirathil Oruvan…” yup!

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  17. I think Mr.Rangan you have some personal score to settle with Mr.Kamal Haasan. Thats what your review is reflecting. It speaks more about kamal haasan & your orthodox values rather than the film itself. I cant find here any proper analysis of the films story, acting or technnical aspects from the point of a critic. When everyone is saying how good is this film, i see you are seeing more faults than positives. Your tone in this review is nothing but sarcastic. May be you should write review only for your friend Mani rathnam. Have heard of paid news, but last week only i saw a paid review on “Kadal” from you. I was a fan of your articles & reviews in The Hindu. But not anymore. Sorry you disappointed me big time. I can say that henceforth you can be called Mr.Biased rangan. That suits you well..

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  18. @AnuWarrier, Vikram is a classic! How dare you? :-)

    @Baddy, thanks for revoking my gag order. I wrote this a while ago but didnt post it until now. Unakkaga idhu kooda panna mattena? :-)

    There were obvious plot holes large enough to drive buses through them, there was a lot of spoon feeding (unlike Kadal where a lot of things are left unsaid and it adds to the charm of the film), some scenes were cringe worthy and didn’t feel natural (the chicken scene, the therapist appointment scene, some of the climax scenes etc) but all in all, I do appreciate the man for making a film that technically was glossy and on par with Hollywood productions. The cinematography was appropriate and locations were quite good, especially the Afghanistan parts. The BGM was adequate, sometimes loud…but nothing to complain. I’m glad there were no duets, etc though Kamal sneaked in one intimate scene during the end credits! :-) Contrary to popular opinion, I thought Rahul Bose’s character, especially in the NY portions, was too stereotypical. I know he explains how he got the voice and eye, but it just seemed forced. I do like him as an actor in general but thought his best scenes were in Afghanistan. That said, I did like the way Kamal’s character was in the background throughout the Afghanistan portions not trying to overshadow the story. I didn’t have a problem with the pace, especially when I view it as a two part story. There is a fair amount of stage setting that occurs that contributes to the story and helps with illuminating the lives of terrorists in general and again, contrary to popular opinion, I did not have a problem with any of that. I was glad that Kamal took the time to flesh out those portions because then it becomes a strong motive for Rahul Bose to feel betrayed later.

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  19. I liked the movie but felt that Kamal could use a better dialogue writer. For the most part, his dialogues seem to invoke the “Yes, we know” feeling and it has gotten worse of late.

    The idea of using pigeons to sabotage the search for the bomb also appears in The Fifth Horseman by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, which is also, incidentally, about a hidden nuclear device in NYC.

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  20. your review shows you havent come out of colonial hangover…while we accept an secret agent of UK criss crossing continents…we cant accept an indian spy doing something similar…is this what you think indians are capable of???your review seems to be written for Times now and not The Hindu…

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  21. Arif Attar: Would plain “militants” have been more appropriate?

    prabhu: “colonial hangover”? Where am I saying I’m not accepting that development? Except the tongue-in-cheek paras on top, everything else is a serious discussion.

    Not every line in a review has to have a good/bad connotation. Sometimes you’re just observing a development across someone’s career, and this is exactly that. An observation about the inclusiveness in Kamal’s films in the recent past, and I think it’s a really interesting thing.

    The only “judgement” in that para comes towards the end, when I say the accents sound funny.

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  22. Reading this review makes me feel that the Hindi version was perhaps more acceptable because mostly everybody barring the Americans, the Englishman and some of the Pakistanis/Afghans like the Sheikh were shown as being fluent in Hindi. Yes, ze doctor was pretty annoying initially even in the Hindi version but at least it was more realistic when it came to dialect. I like the way Kamal shows off his acting skills without calling too much attention to his personality these days. You could say that he milked both the Avai Shanmughi cliche as well as his Kuruthipunal avatar but it’s not done in a way that’s too obvious, except to longtime fans of his.

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  23. While it’s impossible to write Kamal off, or be seriously pissed off with anything he does.. including horror films like Dasavataram-I can’t help wishing for the Kamal of the 80′s. Why aren’t the best directors in the country dying to work with him ? I wish he would just be an actor every now and then.. between his global escapades? Sigh!

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  24. You don’t get me. You could use the plain and simple ‘terrorists.’ Why undermine the concept of ‘jihad’ by using ‘jihadists’? You might want to look up what the term means. And no, it doesn’t mean holy war.

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  25. KayKay: That’s it – Aayirithal Oruvan , the same unfulfilled, incomplete , there is something really good there feeling.

    nimi : “Why aren’t the best directors in the country dying to work with him ?” – Cause Kamal wants to do everything himself. This has been a long-standing complaint against him since the mid-90′s or so. He has to do and say everything he wants in every one of his movies. This is a key failing and to be honest, Tamil and Indian cinema loses because of that.

    Arif Attar: Not wanting to start a religion war , (full disclosure: i am as Godless as anyone can be) , “Why undermine the concept of ‘jihad’ by using ‘jihadists’” , because thats how terrorists refer to themselves as . I don;t know about BR but i know what the original word Jihad means and the people who commit these atrocities , terrorists, call themselves Jihadists. They have appropriated the term. This leaves no space for anyone to call them anything else but Jihadists.

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  26. Aayirathil Oruvan was awful(but still much better than 7G Rainbow colony). Since Selvaraghavan was involved initially with viswaroopam before he got canned Kamal fanboys can blame the screenplay lapses on him :-)

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  27. A review which parallels the movie. A light hearted opening poking fun at stereotypes moving on to a look at the broad issues in hand, before going on and on without moving forward and ending it on a hopeful tone. Was cursing my luck at having only the Hindi version running in town but was thankful because at least I did not have to listen to terrorists speaking in Tamizh (I am guessing that is what happens, right? Gaptun Vijayakanth would be proud to know that the generation of terrorists he trained in the 90s in Tamizh are now passing that knowledge on to the next generations.) ruin the movie experience. He seemed desperate to have people remember his old movies with references strewn all over the place (the most obvious one being the “nallavana kettavana” line) which is a reflection of a master past his prime.

    For a man who directed (without apostraphes) Hey Ram and Virumaandi, this was a let down. Example of terrible writing and direction is the stretch starting from the kid on the swing to the bombings. He has made the point about lost childhoods and in 2 seconds (masterful) and then stretches it more than the street side hotel cook stretches the barotha maida.

    As Meera says, the closer he was to the roots, the better the movies were and maybe the trend that you rightly point out of him attempting to connect global cues is not helping him. What would we not give for one final masterpiece from him so that we do not remember him of Manmathan Ambu and Vishwaroopam!

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  28. I heard somewhere that the new film “Moo” Kamal is talking about revolves around 3 characters – all played by himself! Groan!

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  29. I wonder why your 1st two paras did not appear in the print edition..
    Firstly, kamal shd thank Jayalalitha and the muslim outfits for creating such a mass hysteria for this film and seeding a thought that it is the gravest of gravest sins if you don’t see the film and still if you don’t say ‘it has taken tamil cinema to the next level’.
    If not for the CM and Muslim organizations, i dont think the film wld have run for more than 2 weeks, its just another commercial entertainer with the usual self-indulgent Kamal who wld say in every frame ‘ see how good i am, see how good i look’ with his idiotic half baked fake English accent.
    As someone pointed out, there are enough potholes in the story. Firstly why was Andrea in the film and 2ndly why shd she be a Brahmin? Is it becoz Kamal can say ‘papathiamma, you taste your chicken?’. You take out Andrea from the story, the film does not suffer in anyway.. And why cannot he belong to some other caste; he wld not coz he does not have the guts to tickle any other caste but Hindus and Brahmins…perhaps he does not know anything other than this..

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  30. Hailing from an Islamic background myself, I found nothing offensive and there was no content that warranted the film being banned, reinforcing my belief that for some reason, politics hates Kamal films. A lot of my Muslim friends, on watching the movie, also felt the same. IMO, Kamal went to incredible lengths to portray Muslims in a positive light (the part where he prays for the safety of the people of USA outside the room where the bomb was placed, ready to be detonated) and that not all Muslims are terrorists (Jalal who wants to become an engineer in UK and Nasir who wants to become a doctor, and Omar’s wife, none of whom seemed to share Omar’s hatred). But even if religious sentiments were offended, so what? India is a free country!

    Kamal’s attempt at showing the Afghanis frustration at their plight (the part where an old woman yells at Omar and company after the American raid saying “…first the russians, then the americans, then the Taliban and now you!”) was well thought of. So was his attempt to probe deeper into the terrorists, by showing their family, and that how even they too have aspirations and dreams (especially when the tough Omar regrets his family’s demise), and not simply stop with the terrorists brandishing weapons.

    To the negatives, why did Kamal have to portray Nirupama the way he did? And the relationship between them was also unconvincing.
    What about Andrea’s role? Is she meant to play a bigger part in the sequel?
    And despite the seriousness of the moment, the FBI interrogation scene and the scene where Nirupama describes the chemical properties of Cesium to the NEST team member, was funny.

    But minus the plot holes, such as the FBI using NYPD vehicles, SWAT not using SWAT vehicles (budget concern?), Indian ambassador being given access to a spy caught in a foreign land and the Prime Minister directly calling Vishwanath to congratulate him, the film was an excellent spy thriller. Can’t wait for the sequel!

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  31. Dear Mr Rangan Do you know there is a negative campaign going out against you in twitter? People have misunderstood your review and read the first two paragraphs not as jokes but your “real true opinion”. Please do something about it as these idiots are spreading this crap view and creating a negative opinion of you.
    Sincerely,
    A fan.

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  32. We all go and watch commercial movies like Bourne Identity or Dark Knight Rises or a Dabangg. But when it is time for a Kamal’s action movie, we put on our “we know better” hats and question the hell out of his commercial action movie. Double standards ?

    PS – I have never seen more amateur fist fights than the Dark Knight rises. Even vijaykanth movies have had better.

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  33. Baradwaj Rangan, you have revealed your anti-Kamal bias quite plainly. Just a few days ago, you write a long winded tortuous but positive review for Kadal. And yet here your analysis is much more superficial and hollow for a better film than Kadal. Although you were joking in your first two paragraphs, your attempt at passing it off as humor fails to be credible. You really do seem to be one of those Tam-Brahms who’s deeply offended, and annoyed at the way your community is presented in Tamil cinema. Just come out and say it.

    By the way, you sure can’t give Kadal a horrible review right, you have to do everything to try to continue Mani’s faux image as a genius Director so more people will go and buy your silly book.

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  34. Apart from the joke about being offended, none of the review is yours, correct? could have added something of your own especially after reading your longg.. review of kadal.. perhaps, next time

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  35. Madan: “Reading this review makes me feel that the Hindi version was perhaps more acceptable…” – I think so too. I saw “Hey ram” first in Hindi and was dazzled and couldn’t wait to see it in Tamil, but I ended up being distracted by the accents and all. And I also preferred Gandhi speaking in Hindi rather than English (in the Tamil version).

    Kutty: “For a man who directed (without apostraphes) Hey Ram and Virumaandi, this was a let down.” But why should every film he makes be as ambitious in themes and texture as those films? The way I saw it, this was just like the big dumb action movies we see in Hollywood, except that it was smarter (at least alluding to issues those films don’t; and what was lost in terms of pacing was gained in terms of texture). So it should be compared not with “Hey Ram” and “Virumaandi” but treated as an attempt to make a Hollywood-type thriller for a desi audience.

    When Kamal occupies every frame of a film, he’s bashed up as narcissitic, and when he — for the sake of the film — recedes to the background so the Afghans can be humanised, then that’s a problem too? What saar! :-)

    Sridhar: “anti-Kamal bias”? Now that’s a new one :-)

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  36. Whats wrong with 7G Rainbow Colony , its not high art of anything spectacular but it had its moments,…..

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  37. And he also does writing, editing, cameraman, music and director , now only if he can somehow have 1000s of copies of himself and watch it as well …..

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  38. worst movie of the decade..if the muslim brothers havent created an uproar this movie should not be in theaters any more..kamal gets lucky…..

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  39. I guess that the designated view of this film is antiterrorism. So, I expected an expressive voice of a secular humanist. But I am disappointed! I heard only a dominant voice of an atheist.

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  40. Am I the only one who didn’t treat this as a “regular” Kamal movie and as a more standard-issue film, like his comedies? Except with the expected Kamal-isms thrown in…

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  41. for me selvaraghavan’s best was pudupettai and after that his films were boring(mayakkam enna was atleast watchable)….

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  42. agree with u on manmadhan ambu but vishwaroopam was atleast better than usual masala stuff…..i’m dying to see bourne ultimatum kind of films in tamil….

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  43. wondering what prevented the Indian intelligence from calling up FBI, CIA or Secretary of State or Pentagon and straight up telling them they suspect some badass shit’s going down in NYC…. From there on, US would’ve taken better care, no?

    Instead why kathak dancing? why marrying? why elaborate ruse-ing?dinner preparing? random jogging through known terrorist godowns leading an innocent bystanding detective to death? etc etc etc

    Sila pala doubts are there.

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  44. Agreed that this was an attempt at a different kind of cinema. It is a bit like seeing Sachin bat now. You know that there is limited time. So you would yearn for a repeat of Sharjah ’98, all guns blazing, than an efficient Sydney ’04. Anyone can do Hollywood type dumb thrillers (Thuppaaki, for all its message filled posters, was a recent attempt) but only Kamal can do a Virumaandi or a Hey Ram. That is the reason for the angst.

    And regards the Afghan sequence, my problem was that he just took too long to emphasize the same point (Kid enjoying the swing – lost childhood, kids playing shooting games – innocence lost, kids not able to study – childhood lost). An earlier version of Kamal would have just stopped with the swing scene and we would have got the point. As has been pointed out, his over eagerness to explain and elaborate anything and everything suggests a lack of confidence in the viewer’s intelligence which is again not a Kamal trait.

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  45. if muslims can feel that this film offended their religious sentiments then there is nothing wrong in rangan being anti-kamal(i’m sure he is not an anti-kamal) for showing his community in bad light…..truth is tam brahmins have always been portrayed badly in tamil cinema….

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  46. The biggest problem with Kamal making movies and acting in them is that he thinks cleverness in screenplay and great (not good) acting can convey a bigger message. His movies in recent times, however, are barely more than the sum of their parts. The gulf between his acting and the rest of his cast is ever widening, and its not just because of his extraordinary talent (no words can describe the scene where he pushes the swing in Vishwaroopam). The supporting actor or actress can do only as well as the character envisioned by the director/screenwriter. Aside from his own characters, there is absolutely no depth in any other character, they are merely caricatures with some twists– the typical Tam bram scientist who eats chicken and goes to a shrink (Nirupama in Viswaroopam) or the typical arrogant rich guy with a mommy complex (Madan in Manmadan Ambu). Consequently, Kamal needs to occupy more and more of the screen space in his movies, trying to act and narrate at the same time. Conveying messages is an inherent part of storytelling but it works only if (to use your phrase) organically integrated with the product. The “Kamal-isms”, as you put it, are so in-your-face that he might as well just come out and say it in public rather than wasting valuable screen time in a movie.

    I disagree that his character took a back seat during the Afghan portion of the movie. In fact, he portrayed himself as the only (literal) voice of reason during that segment, be it asking the Lord for forgiveness for him and his compatriot spy, or consoling a weeping Omar that only blood, not tears, are shed on a battlefield.

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  47. The way I saw it, this was just like the big dumb action movies we see in Hollywood, except that it was smarter (at least alluding to issues those films don’t; and what was lost in terms of pacing was gained in terms of texture) –

    Ditto. My father grumbled a bit after watching the film. I asked, did you expect half as much from MI? So how does it matter? I went pretty reluctantly to the theater for this film because I had thought of Dasavatharam as a signal that Kamal wasn’t really interested in being a part of thought provoking films like Anbe Sivam anymore. Viswaroopam/Vishwaroop was at least a tight ship and engrossing with convincing rather than embarrassing stunts.

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  48. Nope – it is not one of his “serious” films – it is truer in spirit to Magalir Mattum (a standard issue rom-com) , – this is a Big budget action film . I personally think it was not meant to be taken seriously and if it had not blown up the way it has , it really wouldn’t have been.

    Its another matter altogether that he is too old and too fat to play an action hero. Old is ok (look at Clooney) but come on man , get into some shape , at least make us believe that this man can run 100m without needing a respirator at the end of it.

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  49. Baradwaj – Read your piece in The Hindu first and knew that the longer version would have more “spice” :P

    //and you did know I was joking, right // nalla vela indha line add pannenga. Illana pudhu rumor kalambirkum. Was that a second thought?

    What did you think about Kamal’s “Endha Kadavul?” response to Pooja Kumar? Staunch Muslim ah irundhum ivaru Atheism pesararu

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  50. I would think that a movie made on a 100 crore budget which Kamal publicly touted as a “realistic espionage thriller” , screened it at Film festivals, and privately showed it to Hollywood “bigwigs” such as Barry Osbourne is not “like his comedies”.

    Of course if the “non regular Kamal movie” perspective allows you to better enjoy the movie and consequently give its review a lighter treatment, then good for you!!

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  51. That’s exactly why most people won’t consider this a standard issue film like his comedies. Now it’s a 100 crore film and he has to market it a certain way to recover, and that’s obviously not like any of his comedies. If you see the film, you’ll know, from Kamal’s history, yeah this does look like a standard issue film. But if it is not, and if you can get Kamal to say that(!), then, sigh, we’ve lost the guy!

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  52. Saw Vishwaroopam ( the Tamil version). Didn’t think much of the film. But two things stood out. One:What a fabulous performer Kamal Hasan is! Just the expressive eyes and the body language as a Kathak guru will put any other actor to shame. How I wish I could see him in a proper film by one of the young auteurs rather than in his self-indulgent ego trips.Two: His clever expose about the pernicious interpretation of Islam by the Talibanists. Hats off to him to for daring to do this. It is not against Islam, but it is surely against an interpretation of Islam that bans music, orders women to be wrapped in burkhas from head to toe, does not allow women to practice professions and celebrates nothing but violence. With chilling accuracy it shows how bleak a world is when there is no music, no art, where there is no freedom for women, no self expression for men. The only high possible in a world like this is violence and killing. Thank you Kamal for presenting the reality of such a world to vast multitude of people camouflaging your message in a Hollywood-style action thriller ( which aspect of the film was just about passable for me. )

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  53. @Anu Warrier, seri kshamichirikunnu!! :-) Some films from that period are more mired in nostalgia than anything else, that’s all. Jeevichu potte! :-)

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  54. BRangan,
    SPOLIERS! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!!
    I just loved the film immensely. I think it’s made much more accessible to the majority of movie going public, still weaving the tale as intricately as possible without causing confusion. அவரும் மகாநதி, ஹேராம், அன்பே சிவம், விருமாண்டி -னு மலை மேல நின்னு கூப்பிட்டு பார்த்தார். நம்ம ஆளுங்க ஏறி போற மாதிரி தெரியலை! Hence without loosing his balance, he is leaning as much as he can, while stretching his hand! You can call this a straightforward film for that reason? I think not!
    The unhurried narration allows the film to sweep across many things and also helps the audience to understand the several dimensions of the war.
    + Beautifully choreographed Kathak song……பாவம், உணர்வு, நடிப்பு, நளினம் —- அசத்தும் கிளாஸ் பாஸ்!
    + The ware house transformation scene with title track – தமிழ் சினிமா கண்டிராத “மரண மாஸ்”, பாஸ்! (all the action gets over within two drops of water!! நெத்தியடி!!)). And at the end of it, his face….the intensity in the eyes and the expression on the face…….terrific! சிங்கம்-லே!
    + Omar using his hands as a gun and pretending to shooting his son – Traces of Saadat Hasan Manto there! Terrorizing the (mind of the) kid – though he has seen all that gun fights, choppers, explosions – but the look on his face when his dad says “toof”…………amazing scene.
    + Nirupama, Ashmita, Jaganath……did their job adequately!
    + why so much against the accent? There is an explanation given for Omar and Salim’s broken Tamil! That’s a necessary evil!
    + Why always the Americans or the British should save the day and the world? Why FBI has to be always with smart guys? (We even fooled CIA – remember Pokran?). Why can’t our guy save the day, save NY and the world?
    + the story is told through powerful imagery – starting from the pigeons (as soon as he releases the “jihadi” bird, it’s going at the bull), Omar choosing guns over pigeons before hanging Nasir, the swing shot, the Afghan landscape (could not believe that those houses were set pieces at Mahapalipuram!), the drops of water forming large puddles, The cries of Nasir and his mother, that old woman cursing, “First it was the British, then Russians, and then the Taliban, and then the Americans, and now it’s you lot – monkeys with tails in front, that’s what you are!” – and many more, still lingers on my vision weeks afterwatching the film! I just loved the way each scene was mounted and how layered they are…….my complaints against the film are very small!
    I take great offense that you called this a “dumb” film with smarts. What is dumb here?……..You could say that the story is familiar or not as complex as hey ram or as ambitious as Dasa (not the treatment!).
    “Ramasamy’s wife was kidnapped by Kuppusamy. Ramasamy bravely fought and rescued her” — is the story. Either you can write a long Kamba Ramayanam or make a short samboorna Ramayanam or create a dreadful Ravan. But what makes you call eighter of these 3 narration dumb?? The screenplay here is really good and the non-linear narration keeps your interest at the top level all through the movie.

    கடல் Review-க்கு வந்த விமர்சனத்துக்காக, விஸ்வரூபத்தை போட்டு தள்ளிட்டீங்க போல?!!!

    Apram, who is that saying bad things about fun filled Vikram? It was Sujatha at his male chauvinistic best- nga! I still have the bound copy of the story which came on kumudam every week! (Lizzy: women can do all that men do! kamal: naan suvathula 8 poduvEn!,)
    Btw, I was surprised to hear that Kamal wanted Mani to direct this one).

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  55. Nathan: I felt that most of the Kamal-isms were reasonably organically integrated here. The few scenes that I felt were excessive were the ones like the interrogation room scene, with the African American woman. There, I agree, it seemed thinichified. But given the theme of this film, the rest of the places the Kamal-isms did fit in well, IMO.

    Arvind Sampath: “//and you did know I was joking, right // nalla vela indha line add pannenga. Illana pudhu rumor kalambirkum. Was that a second thought?”

    No, no. Just thought I’d have a bit of fun with the fact that for all the perception about Muslims being offended, there were other communities that could take offense as well. I did this in the “Race 2″ review some time back, and it was well received. I tried the same tactic here and it’s backfired, despite this disclaimer :-)

    apala: First of all, thank you for a model comment on how someone can completely disagree and yet remain a civlised human being. Except that we don’t seem to have disagreed all that much. To take your points:

    1. “straightforward film” is not a diss, merely an acknowledgement that this is not a “Virumaandi” or “Hey Ram.” Nothing wrong with a “straightforward film,” especially if it retains Kamal-isms and also works with the audience. Just that I wouldn’t place this on par with a “Virumaandi” or “Hey Ram.” That’s all. For some reason, this has come to be construed as a negative review. Don’t know why.

    2. Agree with you on the “marana mass” scene :-) That’s one of the things I was referring to when I said “the actor’s ongoing attempt to carve out for himself, within the commercial-film mould, some space where he can be the hero as well as be more than just a hero.” Again, that’s a major positive :-) We don’t see this with other heroes.

    3. “big dumb action movie” is a generic term we usually see for those films where things blow up and good guy is after bad guy and there’s a lot of gunplay and noise – and I’m saying that Kamal has taken that prototype, that template, and invested it with smarts. (Refer para with praise about Afghan portion. See also para about Kamal-isms.) See, good thing again? :-)

    4. “Nirupama, Ashmita, Jaganath……did their job adequately!” We’ll have to part ways on this. Sorry.

    5. Not against the accent. Just said it made me giggle. I see why the need for this, and I don’t see how else it can be done, but it feels… odd, funny. This is exactly what I said in that para.

    6. “Why can’t our guy save the day, save NY and the world?” Of course he can. I am merely commenting that Kamal’s films – so far criss-crossing the nation – have begun to criss-cross the world. In what earthly sense can this statement be interpreted as a diss? Again, which other hero’s career trajectory contains such an auteurist theme?

    7. Ippidi review-ku footnotes kudukka vechitteengale :-)

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  56. BR,
    I was discussing somewhere else that more than your review,your actual opinion on a film will come through in the comments section.How true :)

    And a few others,Can we please stop this “Kamal is a nacissistic” thing,it’s tiring.

    Can you please tell me some other hero who is not there in every frame.

    If multitasking is being narcissistic,then he has the talents to do that Goddam-it.Accept the fact.

    The moment somebody start off their opinion with a why should he direct,why can’t he let a young auteur(who are they)direct him,he has a huge ego etc etc etc,it’s time to stop reading them.

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  57. Somehow , i see this is a Heyram version of a spy thriller , filled with interlacing of past , present , heavy religious references( if not why , how it ..) , a screenplay thats fairly predictable . Yes , i loved the afghan part – the courage to take you away from the action to the more indepth , reasoning , of terrorist are .

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  58. “Its another matter altogether that he is too old and too fat to play an action hero”

    100% in agreement with you there, V.

    It’s one of my few gripes with Kamal. If you’re gonna prop yourself up as an agile action hero, then for Christ’s sake get ahold of Stallone’s trainer for Bullet In The Head or play yourself as a slow, flabby, over the hill action star like Arnie did in The Last Stand.

    You’d need to be a regular watcher of Malayalam movies for your eyes to become inured to the sight of obese heroes running, kicking and dancing (or at least have a marathon of ’70s to early ’80s Shivaji Ganesen flicks)

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  59. For that matter, except for a few exceptions, there aren’t very many Tamil film heroes who can portray an action spy hero in the real sense – agile, suave, debonaire etc etc.

    Kamal, nearing 60, should portray roles that befits Denzel Washington, Clooney, De Niro, Sean Penn & the like. If he’s writing himself into roles by Tom Cruise or Jason Statham, then its simply denial of the inevitable – age & girth (!!)

    Btw, what’s with the term “hats off”? It seems to be liberally in use by friends from India – or is this just my imagination …

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  60. KayKay: Honestly , it pains me to say that : “Its another matter altogether that he is too old and too fat to play an action hero” – i mean this is the guy who was in Kakki Chattai.

    BR: Comments on this page got screwed up , the ordering is wierd. New format or inadvertent ?

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  61. Manix : “there aren’t very many Tamil film heroes who can portray an action spy hero in the real sense – agile, suave, debonaire etc etc” – Kamal is one of them who can , if he drops his weight and his fake English accent . No one speaks English like that.

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  62. @Manix. Now that you mentioned, I realized that lots of my facebook friends have/had their hats off to Kamal/Vishwaroopam recently. My guess is that all of them are Engineers ( and not students of literature or fine arts) and possesses limited English vocabulary -that includes me too. So, when we are impressed, it is mostly hats off.

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  63. Was there any scene which required agility???There was no heavy duty physical action stuff except the transformation scene which was neatly done.

    Even the Training scenes in the Afghanistan episode did not require great physical looks/skill.

    Never did I feel he was not suiting the character.

    Did I watch another film?

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  64. BTW,Tom Cruise should be 52 and Statham would be around 46,not young by any standards.

    Of course they train their bodies well.

    Also to note that Kamal does not look 58.

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  65. “Its another matter altogether that he is too old and too fat to play an action hero”
    No. he is playing a fat action hero. He can play all kinds of roles you see.

    And come on guys, Kamal was, is and will ever be the epitome of Narcissism and vanity(which, ofcourse, doesnt automatically cancel out his merits as an accomplished actor/director).

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  66. Ajay : “Was there any scene which required agility???There was no heavy duty physical action stuff except the transformation scene which was neatly done.” – i am assuming this comment was aimed at me.

    Physicality of an artiste plays a big part in how i perceive the fit of an actor to a role. It adds another dimension and almost a back-story. The example that i was aiming at here was – George Clooney in The American. There are no great physical feats involved in that movie , even less than Vishwaroopam, its also a sort of spy thriller more cerebral actually but the fact that Clooney is fit and looks like he is someone who can handle himself in a tight spot adds a lot to the character.

    “BTW,Tom Cruise should be 52″ – since you mentioned Tom Cruise another example , if you see Collateral TC really looks like he knows how to handle a gun from the way he holds it , draws it, aims while shooting, moves with the gun etc etc. I was struck by how comfortable he was with it so researched it a bit. Turns out they did 4 months of firearms and combat training and he learnt from an ex-SAS guy who is an expert in close-quarter combat. So when it comes to portraying a killer there is a reality to his performance that brings a lot to the movie.

    Looking the part helps in adding to the “willing suspension of belief” – that is cinema.

    Accents are another huge problem for me ., Hey Ram did not work for me at all mainly because i saw it in Tamil and i grew up in parts of North India and know the Chandni Chowk, Red Fort area very well. So hearing Shah Rukh speak in Tamil and the “phony” sets just completely threw me out of the movie.

    “Also to note that Kamal does not look 58.” – thats in the eyes of the beholder, wouldn’t you say.

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  67. “There was no heavy duty physical action stuff except the transformation scene which was neatly done”

    The point is that Kamal would have sold that scene a lot better had he been leaner. Hell, he would have freaking OWNED it!

    If the way he’d overpowered the baddies utilized techniques like judo or aikido where you turn the opponents momentum against himself, then agility doesn’t come into play (how do you suppose a tub of lard like Steven Seagal still has a career?) .

    But the scene in VR was choreographed like one of those MMA-style fights requiring , gymnastic-level flexibility and fitness. Now that’s not to say ONLY the likes of Donnie Yen or Scott Adkins are qualiifed to do these scenes, just that you “sell the illusion” better when you come across as toned and fit.

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  68. And here’s my 2 cents on the comments here about Kamal’s narcissism. I’m not denying it, but let’s put it into perspective with respect to the Industry in which he chooses to work in mostly. One where bald, out-of-shape and “Ayyanar Selai” -complexioned heroes often hand-pick the fairest North Indian lass to star in a village set story that has her going positively orgasmic at the mere sight of them, where a bald, pudgy “doctor” who smiles like that lecherous uncle who flirts with all the young girls during wedding functions self-finances his own movies and self-anoints himself as a “Power Star”. Where a father launches his son and dubs him “Little Super Star” in his debut feature! Hell, an industry where T Freakin’ Rajender has a career!!!

    Kamal is quite naturally held up to a higher standard and that’s as it should be since the above-mentioned clowns aren’t qualified to lick the polish off his boot. But just a little perspective is all I ask for. Kamal didn’t help matters by finally succumbing to this “title” nonsense and having himself called “Ulaga Nayagan” .One of the things I liked about him was his refusal to have all that “Glowing Neon Titles Above Name” dick-stroking absurdities in his films.

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  69. “Its another matter altogether that he is too old and too fat to play an action hero” – Yes. I was struck by it right from the moment i saw the trailers. But as far as i can recall, this perhaps was the first time Kamal didnt look the part he was playing. He was looking old and fat in Vasool Raja & VV also, but they werent action oriented roles as such were they? So i think we can cut him some slack here. No?

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  70. you yahoos will go praise connery/moore as bond when they played an aging (not to mention lecherous super spies bedding women young enough to be their grand daughters) in bloated spectacles like never say never agan, diamonds are for ever, a view to a kill etc. where they couldnt do any stunts w/o a stunt double..ange suspension of disbelief, inge kamalukku verum suspension. vandhutaange…

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  71. Kay Kay: Yeah, yeah, I wish he had been fitter, but that doesn’t come up when people talk to me about the film as much as the whole “but why did he have to be an effeminate dancer” aspect. That’s what seems to have bothered a lot of people – and that didn’t bother me at all. Firstly, he’s incognito, and what better way for a macho hero to hide himself than pretend to be an effeminate Kathak dancer. (And why Kathak? Because he’s from the North, essentially). He could have donned a gorilla suit and locked himself up in the Brooklyn zoo — this was just more “audience pleasing.”

    But more importantly, there is a mythological precedent of a warrior becoming a “eunuch” — and that’s Arjuna, during exile. And if that plot twist didn’t bother readers then, I don’t see why it should bother viewers now :-)

    IS the film a hit, BTW? I mean, in the patti-thotti sense?

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  72. Was not Andrea in the scene with Kamal helping him remove the pad when the wifey enters, atleast thats what I infer, else he does look slimmer in the rest of the movie then the initial portions?

    KP

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  73. - It’s one thing to not make this another movie in the ticking clock franchise where the villain needs to be vanquished before it all goes boom. But, it’s completely another to leave us with an incomplete movie with a lackluster third act with the big set piece being a tense Will He-Wont He moment when Kamal struggles to blow a Poochi blocking a Candid Camera.

    - The Afghanistan portions were so evocative and authentic. And, the initial US portions too.
    Jaideep Ahlawat was fantastic. As I watched my idol play volleyball whilst looking like a million bucks, I come to realize that Kamal in a career spanning 5 decades has almost never played a sport on screen.

    - The most cringeworthy moment for me was when Kamal says to Pooja Kumar “Yentha Kadavul?”. And, a little later we are asked to buy that he is a convincing Muslim who who would pray during a mission.

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  74. Oh man. Never would have thought about the Arjuna thing. Brilliant connection! So true. There’s always merit to contrast. What better contrast to being macho than being an effeminate dancer?

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  75. B, actually I didn’t mind the whole “Kathak” dancer angle at all. In fact I’m a sucker for narratives that showcase a hero as a pacifist first before he let’s loose with the pyrotechnics,even way back when Bruce Lee debuted with The Big Boss and didn’t throw a single punch until a half hour into the movie.

    If anything Kamal didn’t spend long enough in that guise to truly milk that “breakout” scene for all its worth. Baasha did it right by waiting until the pre-interval portions before letting Rajini strut his stuff. But I suppose VR had a lot of material to cover.

    It’s still banned in M’sia, forcing ppl like me to increase Torrent traffic:-)

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  76. Who’s this Kadull(ard) de-mothballing poor Connerry and Moore and dragging their sorry asses into this conversation?

    I’ll be the 1st to admit that Messieurs Connery and Moore were showing their sell-by-date towards their last outings as Bond. But bear in mind, Connerry graduated to senior roles after Never Say Never Again and Moore didn’t hv much of a career after Bond.

    And finally, let’s get one thing straight son. I may not want Kamal to attempt Jacky Chan moves until he drops a few pant sizes, but I DEMAND that he continues bedding women on screen as long as possible. Simbhu can call himself Manmadhan and Dhanush can peddle his pervy sexuality all he wants, but NOBODY puts the moves on heroines like Kamal. His hands are Picasso’s brushes on the exquisite canvas of his leading ladies:-)

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  77. KayKay, LOL! I agree with you on the ladies part. Nobody can match Kamal, now or anywhere in the future, when it comes to that.

    Interesting analogy with Baasha which has become the golden standard for the so-called turning point. IMO, that was the high point of Vishwaroopam You just wish that it had been the pre-Intermission scene (which again was not that good). That would’ve made it one of the best we’ve got in Tamil cinema. The film failed to touch that peak in the remaining running time. Part of this was that the Afghanistan portions felt like they were from a different film, in the sense that they were beautifully shot and there’s a lot of subtlety, but they never felt organic with the generic thriller nature of the US portions. And the final portions after the remainder of the flashback were just too generic and dull to capture my imagination.

    I’ve always felt that a strong climax can elevate a weak film and vice-versa. With this film, it’s the latter. It ends on such a whimper that you cannot help but feel let-down when you leave the theater. The general argument you hear is that Kamal had a lot of material to cover and had to push a lot of it to the second film. I grant him that. But if you know you’re taking two parts, you have to end this film on a high that leaves you anticipating for the second.

    Remember Kill Bill, that was a singular story Tarantino had to split up into two following studio pressure, but I never felt let-down after the first part ended. The climactic fight followed by the quiet scene in the airplane and the conversation between Bill and Budd just felt like the perfect ending. It felt complete within the first film, yet left me anticipating for the second. That is how to properly end a film when you know a sequel is in the offing.

    Having said all that, I loved Vishwaroopam. It was an amazing attempt within the confines of Tamil commercial cinema, and I’d take spectacles like VR any day over the nonsensical spectacles that Shankar offers us. And as countless people have already pointed out, if there’s one reason you have to see this film, it is the marana-mass scene that KayKay mentioned. Everything about it is perfect. The way we’ve been led to it. The prayer just before the animal is unleashed. The background music and lyrics, “Evan Endru Ninaithaai, Ethai Kandi Sirithaai….”. WOW! I could almost feel my veins bursting out. Even my mom (a mega Kamal fanatic) was jumping up in her seat and trying to whistle and shout, though she couldn’t do neither. I obliged by whistling heavily on her behalf.

    I just hope VR-II has more such scenes and is able to make sense of everything in a larger context.

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  78. It was a surprise to hear actors like Zarina Wahab & Rahul Bose do their own dubbing. Hey, why no mention of other character artistes? Jaideep Ahlawat was quite good as Salim.

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  79. KayKay: “His hands are Picasso’s brushes on the exquisite canvas of his leading ladies:-)” – Sold.

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  80. Mambazha Manidhan: For me the few cringe-worthy moments included Kamal “acting” out his sorrow (upon Taufeeq’s death etc.), so we always knew what he was feeling, and also that he was a good man even then. I’d have preferred it if he’d kept his feelings hidden (as any spy would) and later told us — but again, I’m guessing this was a commercial decision?

    And speaking of sports, have you seen Him play cricket? :-)

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  81. Balaji, good points. If VR was conceived as a 2-parter, then some judicious editing and better selection of scenes would have provided a stronger climax and a better lead-in to the sequel. As it is I’m a little confused about those montages occurring just before the end credits. Are they a sped-up epilogue to Part 1 or scenes from the forthcoming Part 2?

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  82. great catch about Arjuna!

    regd ” I think so too. I saw “Hey ram” first in Hindi and was dazzled and couldn’t wait to see it in Tamil…”
    just curious about the bits set in madras, as I have not yet seen the hindi version.
    wouldnt the iyengar household look strange speaking hindi? or do they speak in tamil with subtitles or was that staged differently in the hindi version?

    regd V, if they make the other characters speak urdu then these nitpickers complain that the subtitles are annoying and too fast to read. if its english they complain about fake accents. there is no end to this madness.
    dont they watch troy and gladiator? does he have to make an apocalypto to shut them up?!

    regd the ‘endha kadavul’ line, I dont think that was necessarily being atheistic…it can also be construed as him meaning his god is not the god Omar thinks he is fighting for and that, that god has nothing to do with this.

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  83. You know I clicked on that video with great expectations unable to fathom that footage of Him playing cricket indeed exists. And laughed my guts out when I watched it first ! On second viewing, I thought hey it’s not bad. Cricket Musicals definitely need an acquired taste. :)

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  84. KayKay: “If VR was conceived as a 2-parter, then some judicious editing and better selection of scenes would have provided a stronger climax and a better lead-in to the sequel.” – From all available reports – it wasn’t . It just ballooned up.

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  85. Got this comment via email:

    Karthikeyan M : Hi Sir,

    I happen to read you article: Vishwaroopam: Terror messages

    I wish to comment but the comments were closed, but there is an important point i love to note about the film and Mr Hassan

    Zero Dirty Thirty has been released in India with showing final moment of killing of Osama bin Laden

    What Vishwaroopam showed is what everybody forgot to take notice of important history..

    The film opens in 2002, the same year Bin Laden escaped from Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains into Pakistan.

    Kamala shows Bin Landen as tall guy but with meeting with ISI chief, suddenly there is an attack by US military this relates to Bin laden escaped to Pakistan.

    That’s it.

    thanks

    Thanks Kamal.

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  86. KayKay – U nailed all ur replies on Kamal and the movie.

    And it sickens me when people compare Ajith/Vikram/surya with Kamal’s acting skills…I mean even they will squirm when their name is brought up as a comparison with Kamal. I feel like throwing up just writing it. This is f’ing Kamal…Ajith ??? Seriously !!!???

    About Kamal appearing fat, check the movie out again and see the timeline. If New York scenes are current time, and Afghanistan was 2002, that is approx 10 years. So he is underground for 8-10 years. And in the training scenes in Afghanistan he is shown as superfit ( cgi :) ). So it makes complete sense from a characterization standpoint to be overweight.

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  87. New York ,Kurbaan and My Name is Khan were films that despite being typically bollywood ,had a reliable storyline stressing on islamic tensions in the US ,showcasing the community’s vulnerabilities and suppressed agitation .But this one very much suffers under Kamal’s narcissim ,you could see the unecessary urge for the slow motion breakout scene,the kathak part ,the scene where the FBI officer asks him “who the hell are you??” almost as if he’d seen some divine being ,too complicated and irritating tambrahm slang ,the film drags along and at one point when the crowd in the theatre got up to disperse ,I was still wondering if it was over yet .A cliched ,slow and weak film with only strong controversies and fakingly praising reviews for a back up.

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  88. Harshini, good points, but as I mentioned earlier, Kamal doesn’t have the monopoly on narcissism.

    I liked Kurbaan but MNIK’s Forrest Gump-ian approach to Islamophobia was ludicrous and the theme itself was secondary to SRK casting himself as the Magic Retard spreading the message of Peace, Love and the Brotherhood of Man across America. The Great Brown Hope preaching Understanding to the unwashed masses.

    Seen Jab Tak Hai Jaan? Where an Indian/Paki looking guy strolls into a subway train, mouths off some tech shit about a bomb placed there and offering to disarm it only to have the 2 white cops say “We better let him try. He knows what he’s talking about” ? (Real life scenario: Said Indian guy clapped in handcuffs and hauled off to Scotland Yard for interrogation in record time) Reckon SRK deserves the N-word here?

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  89. Pingback: Vishwaroopam- A review, not really… | mindbloggerman

  90. Got this via email:

    Sir,
    1. I don’t think that V is bluntly about saving NYC, per se, from jihadi attempt.(as is concluded in The Hindu).
    Kamal imparts training to fighters. AND saves NYC also from caesium bomb at the same time.
    2. The underlying message, I think, is different, which Haasan tries to convey.
    He certainly would not have wished to ‘cheapen’ his enterprise just to save one NYC, -through his mega film!
    3. He in the course of the narration indicates about the wholesale negative approach of the jihadis towards the West (education, health etc..).
    4. Kamal subtly says that we Indians too are smart in handling things in a better way.
    (woman’s better knowledge on radioactivity, Kamal’s sharp interactions with jihadis, their escape from basement etc.).
    5.So, the indirect point is: jihadis cannot sustain this for ever. They need to catch whatever best suited in their way (“India: IT, for eg.,”), to turn their future positively.
    Well, even one day they may win the power through violent means. But they ought to remember the lessons of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and so on…
    So,blasts won’t help them, but suitable POSITIVE adaptations from the West certainly will.

    PS: I wish to add that the Tamil angle to V is a needless confusion that the local audience attach; ( Kamal had to supply to us the Tamil version under constraint, because, the product was basically from TN.! )
    Nevertheless,one may forget the whole Tamil version and treat it as an overall Indian attempt, as “Hindi + AfPak + US” angle would be more suitable to one’s grasp.

    - S Raju

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  91. Also, in the movie he has a added last name “Kashmiri” and when asked about it he said “Just kept by my Mother” and referred to it as Fatherless. That is another real master class “Kamalism” in the movie for every Indian to notice.

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  92. I absolutely agree with you. This Kamal Hassan is too full of himself. It’s just that brahmins are not taking action against this guy. If he insulted Muslims about a tenth of what he does to hindus he would be banned from films the next day (which i really admire). Besides the movie was really NOT thrilling! ! People who say this movie is too complex and western for typical tamil audiences, they are wrong. There is nothing intriguing about this movie! Movies like the game (a hollywood movie) were FAR more intriguing and thrilling than this movie. Kamal should stick to excellent movies like virumandi, hey ram and anbe sivam and should cut down on his atheism.

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  93. Kamal is the best in all areas of cinema making….and he is contirbuting to the growth of cinema at this juncture. People can sit & comment anything and we can see many are not good at that as well.

    So dont point fingers at Kamal…he is doing his best. His idealogies can be shown only in his films which makes them unique from others.

    Kamal doesnt believe in any religion ( religion according to me is a way of living) he has his own way of living life and belives GOD is in everybody.

    Kamal is a person who has been evovling over a period of time since Kallathur Kannamma to Viswaroopam 2 and he is one who works hard to get better everytime. I see so much of hardwork going behind to develop himself over and again to entertain people which is his profession.

    Salute to this great artist of our times.

    Like

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