PHOTOS & STILLS - GALLERY
Vishwaroopam - Rated IBy Pranavan Ramachandran
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Terrorism; the word on the lips of many fear-inducing conversations, apocalyptic visions and knock-knock jokes. What is it all about? Kamal Haasan takes this touchy subject as the underlying theme of his latest film "Vishwaroopam", a slow burning thriller, which is more than your run-of-the-mill shootout with an open-ended climax, paving way for Vishwaroopam-2 (hopefully we get to see the sequel).
Without mulling over the story too much, which is after all, a classic battle story between the good and evil (but the defining lines are murky), we see the "behind the scenes" of what makes a terrorist, their ideals and the indoctrination of children to make them fight against anything and everything that is not part of the terrorists' belief system. It is a relief to watch fully fleshed-out characters of terrorists (or fighters as they like to call themselves), whereas one-dimensional terrorists were the norm in most films. The training of Al-Qaeda by the protagonist/antagonist ("everyone has a double role, okay?") takes up most of the mid-section of the film and is beautifully shot by Sanu Varghese as the picturesque Afghan landscapes provide the backdrop for some of the most gruesome scenes.
Some scenes are exceptional, especially where the main antagonist Omar (chillingly portrayed by Rahul Bose), uses his hand to mimic a gun and points it at his own son's temple and mouths "boof" (because his son wants to be doctor and not a Jihadist), which, is more eerie than the actual gunfights. The US military incursion into Afghanistan has been painstakingly shot (and, if I'm not mistaken, the first appearance of a Black Hawk in a Tamil film) and a couple of death scenes may prove too graphic for some viewers. The screenplay cleverly switches between timelines and some dialogues bring the house down (Alfred Hitchcock has even said that a slight comic moment would be amplified in a really tense situation). A good example is that scene between an interrogator and Nirupama (Pooja Kumar).
Interrogator: So, you must pray to Allah, huh?
Nirupama: No… My god has four hands.
Interrogator: What kind of god has four hands? How do you crucify him?
Nirupama: We don't crucify our god!
Nirupama: We dunk him in the sea!!!
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy provide excellent background score to the film, especially the scene where, with blasting klaxon sound. As a performer, writer and director, Kamal Haasan has excelled in making an exceptional film on an international stage which is bound to take Tamil cinema to the next (or next-next?) level, if it weren't for the petty politics and media-hungry-scum circling the listless waters hungrily, piggy-backing on Kamal Haasan's celebrity. I have seen the film THREE times in the cinema; I could not find ONE scene depicting Islam/Muslims in an offensive manner. Here's a certificate the Indian censors forgot to give this film: "Rated I: For Intelligent Viewers Only".
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