Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review – Vishwaroopam (Telugu) – Indian made Hollywood-ish thriller!!

Just imagine a valiant effort of pumping in Rs 95 crores in an unconventional film. Adding to that is charting uncharted terrain by trying to release it though new avenues – DTH. That’s already given a truckload of goose bumps, so now hold your breath and make way to the creative genius whose middle name is “audacity.” That’s universal actor Kamal Haasan for you, and with Vishwaroopam he’s also taken the baton of direction. The saddening part is that the DTH experiment to safeguard his investments didn’t see the light of day and adding an insult to the injury came in the allegations which stalled the movie’s release in some areas. Kamal, with his indefatigable spirit and nerves of steel, is trying to stem the tide and keep the ball rolling. Here comes a coming of age film from a man who believes in walking against the grain.

Vishwaroopam starts with the story of an Indian settled in United States along with his wife. A volley of events forces them into dire situations and from there different layers of the story are peeled off with precision. One after the other the film springs many surprises and it’s an arduous task to fix the focus on one plot or sub-plot. Kamal with his writing finesse takes the audience’s intelligence to another level and throws enough fodder to connect the dots. With this film Kamal took the road less traveled and avoided a tried and tested story line, thus making it for a unique storytelling in recent times.
When Kamal takes up a challenging role, he works on it with utmost care to bring in all the elements of method acting. In Vishwaroopam he puts in an exemplary performance by unleashing myriad hues of his acting prowess as the movie progressed. Needless to say that Kamal shines equally in the role of a writer - director, and at one point the audience becomes ambivalent in deciding who takes all the glory – the actor or the director. Here all the three complement each other and his in-depth research and analysis of international terrorism is laudable. The locales and the characters chosen by “Mr. Perfectionist” say it all.
Kamal Haasan's craft in execution is akin to the likes of Brian De Palma (director of Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission Impossible), Michael Mann (director of Heat, The Insider). The characters were very well carved and their movement in the narrative reminds you of Hollywood style of film-making. Kamal’s mastery in character elevation and the slow transition across the multiple phases of the film makes the film more gripping. The breath-taking action sequences calls for a thundering applause.  Sanu Verghese with his adept use of camera steals some brownie points. The camera work supports the story line fully with suitable lighting and color sense. The excessive use of wide angles to shoot the menacing streets of New York and the rustic mountains of Afghanistan takes cinematography to a different altitude. Mahesh Narayanan’s editing is slick and the way he merged all the back stories into a seamless narrative is commendable.

A fair amount of credit goes to the sound design. As this movie is the first Indian film to use Auro-3D sound technology, everyone expected an out-of-the-world auditory experience. Kamal gave a giant canvas to the sound design team and they capitalized on it. But more was expected from them apart from the helicopter sounds in the 90 degree channel. In parts, their work was impeccable but most of the times there wasn’t a decent 3D experience. The songs composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could be the pivotal element that separates this from a Hollywood flick. The songs gelled in the narrative and no inane attempt was made to induce unwanted songs and item numbers. The main song garnishes the film with a vital seasoning which helps to recount one character of Kamal Haasan easily and effectively. The most endearing moment of the film is the intro song – a melodious Kathak dance number Undalenandhi choreographed by Pandit Birju Maharaj.  

Another striking feature of Vishwaroopam is its cast which is cherry-picked to deliver more than able performances. They breathe lot of life into their roles. Rahul Bose shares a meaty screen space and with his muffled voice he is intimidating and outstanding in his role. Pooja Kumar is expressive and crosses another milestone as an actress in the lead role by setting newer benchmarks. But her dubbing stays away from the natural and is irksome at times. Andrea Jeremiah gets very little screen time, and the only noticeable line from her is that everyone gets to play a double-role. Albeit in a short role, Shekhar Kapur and Zarina Wahab brought profuseness to the film.
All that glitters is not gold. The movie ends by leaving a trail for its sequel and after so much of struggle such an abrupt ending causes some jitters. There is no quick-fix solution to curb terrorism but Kamal could have taken some measures to pull off an enthralling climax. Even the events leading to the climax in the second half are not well orchestrated. The film moves at a slow pace in the first half, and the gore and graphic violence at places could make it unpalatable for family audience. The screenplay is a fancy for an intelligent movie watcher, and all the time you have to glue your eyeballs to the screen to decipher different elements of the story, but if your focus gets derailed you may lose it. Again it boils down to your imagination to weigh the message from the movie.

Bottom-line: If you avoid all the spoilers flying around, the writer - director’s success in creating an ambience filled with earnestness will definitely help you to focus and follow the film. Vishwaroopam presents a wide array of human emotions – child emotions, camaraderie, candidness, etc - with an emphasis on global terrorism. Most of the scenes hit the bull’s eye rather than beating around the bush. With Kamal Haasan at the helm of affairs and all the cast and the crew firing on all cylinders, this magnum opus is a stunner and a sure winner. Don't miss this Indian made Hollywood-ish thriller.

My Rating: Expectation – 8/10; Reality – 7/10

17 comments:

  1. Nice review and thanks for keeping it spoiler-free. More after I watch the movie :)

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    1. Thanks a ton Haricharan. As u can see there's nothing mentioned about the plot or Kamal's character. Had to mention the phrase "International terrorism" coz it's inevitable. I wish u watch the film asap and we can have loads of discussions on the film. If possible pay a visit to Hyderabad and watch it :)

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  2. i love kamal hassan and yes this is a genuine reply

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    1. Thanks for the lovely line. Yaaa everyone loves this legend :)

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  3. Very nice review. It's a pity idiots don't appreciate anything in the arts!

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    1. Thanks Tomichan. Good that you liked it. U r right. Indians appreciate art and cinema but idiots don't.

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  4. Hi Raja,

    A detailed review into the logic behind the film, loved it.
    Thanks for the review, now i'll give this film a watch. :)

    Regards

    Jay
    My Newest Blog Post | My Entry to Indiblogger Get Published

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    1. Thanks Jay... I wanted to throw in as many good things abt the movie as possible avoiding spoilers. Please watch the film. It has taken Indian film-making to another level. I loved reading ur blog post "10 Things to Stop Doing To Yourself To Enjoy Life." Way to go bro :)

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  5. Wonderful review. Totally Spoiler-free, at the same time points out the pros and cons of the movie.

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    1. Thanks Arun. Even my other reviews are spoiler-free. I dont know why most of the reviews dropped in so many spoilers and revealed the plot elements. There are some cons in "Vishwaroopam" but they are overshadowed by its pros. Watch the film and extend your "Passion for movies" further :)

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  6. Beautiful review. Sorry that the wonderful film is mired in unavoidable controversies.

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    1. Thanks Arumugam... That shows the sorrow state of affairs prevalent in our country. If they wanna ban this film it's better they ban the art of film-making. Anyways the dark clouds drifted away and the movie will see the light of day today. Enjoy watching the film :)

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  7. Very good review, I am looking forward to watch it.

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    1. Thanks bro... Enjoy watching the film :)

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  8. I can't wait for the movie. I loved the books. I should agree these are the best written books.
    Fifty Shades Movie

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