Viswaroopam | 2013

Genre: Action

Author : Srivathsa

Synopsis:“Vishwaroopam” is uninvolving and self depreciating.

When I start writing a review on a movie, I attempt to be as impartial as possible and I always do justice to my cinematic perception. Just before I commence the review of Kamal Haasan’s latest directorial venture, the mega budget “Vishwaroopam”, I wish to give a preamble on the mindset of the Indian audience on Hollywood standard of film making and for a good reason. While we could deal with the reason the later part of this article, I’ve heard a lot of my friends and pals comparing many of the mainstream Indian movies with Hollywood. Well, there is nothing immoral doing so, since Hollywood has set a baseline for a superlative standard, which can even be debated when it comes to artistic sense. But the major aspect that the audience take into consideration is the budget that is being involved, the action sequences, and scenes that make their jaws drop. Whilst, this seems to be only a very small part of the movies that come out of Hollywood (which includes all English speaking movies from Britain, Australia etc, for the above set of audience), the other major part is a in fact a critic loving genre of movies. But, let us only regard the first part of the Hollywood that the world in reality knows about. There is a quotient of sensibility attached to it, which might be either remain, low or high, according to the movies themselves. Now, this sensibility that exists in many of those films should be taken into account when a comparison is made. This sensibility internally accounts for the quality of the movie. International standard doesn’t really live in the budget or the level in which the action sequences are made, but this particular quotient that I was ranting about. I do not fault the audience, but indisputably our should society get a coverage to the “real” standards and then talk about comparisons. Just shooting the movie in New York is not being a Hollywood movie.

Kamal Haasan’s “Vishwaroopam” is an interesting enterprise because it made me think on a man, who was once the ray of hope for Tamil cinema and was considered as a man who could make films, with even low budget (examples like “Mahanadi” is worth mentioning) to international standards. Now, this evolution of the man I’m speaking about, Kamal, to a more non-contemplative and middle-of-the-road crisis driven human being, is all the more sub-standard. He has directed a couple of fantastic movies that are “really” international (talking about “Hey Ram” and “Virumaandi”), although with trivial flaws. I wish Kamal, was trying to set right his flaws of his earlier attempts rather than moving on to make more superficial, shallow, and self heroic action entertainers. Now, that he has preferred the focus of an action entertainer, I expected him to stick to the sensibilities connected with it. There are good mainstream entertainers and no brainers that give us guilty pleasure of watching them and deeply succeed in doing so. But, a pseudo intelligent shot at juxtaposing, the entertainment with a purportedly message-driven value of a film is not for a man of this calibre. “Vishwaroopam” failed, even as a guilty pleasure movie to me because of the above mentioned dim-witted and pseudo-shrewd idea.

Kamal Haasan as an actor is just great and no one would doubt it. He lights up the movie, on all right notes principally with his entry as the dancer. The first few minutes, the best part of the movie (movie alone), kicks off well and adequately plotted. But all good ends right after the QT-Rodriguez-Guy Ritchie, styled stunt scene, which was well choreographed. Right after that, be it in Afghanistan or New York, it is a downhill trip. Unremittingly uninvolving screenplay, messy characterization of the protagonist himself, follows throughout. There were a few fortunately nicely directed moments (including the execution of the alleged traitor), that again were eclipsed by more than enough preposterous scenes and irrelevant interventions including the talks on Kamal's usual theory of God and existentialism. I would like to brief more on that “messy characterization” part. A movie’s character should be a character which fits to the movie alone. Satire can be a part of a single movie, which theme can fit in to the character and theme of the movie. As a basic character build, a protagonist who gives works in espionage environment, cannot reveal his emotions in front of the group he tries to fit in. Involving in actions that directly notifies the enemy that the character does not belong to the group is rationally being dumb. While, I understand the hero is good hearted he is allowed to do so, personally and not in public. It is sheer common sense, even for a commercial mainstream mass entertainer. That was just an instance and Kamal disheartens us in many such moments.

The BGM helps the movie and Shankar Ehsaan Loy didn’t disappoint. The cast is surely talented, but mostly wasted, including the ever incredible Nasser and Shekar Kapoor. Rahul Bose is a great actor, but despondently fails as Omar and for the first time, a director has underused him trying to underplay too much, for his talent. Technically, it’s not an achievement, but pleasing enough, though the freeze frames were quite an unnecessary gimmick work. The car chases were way too chaotic. The new comer Pooja does it well, and Andrea does her part well too. As in any other Indian movie, weak Hollywood actors do their minor parts, inadequately, except the one who plays the commanding FBI agent. It is pointless to search for answers to questions on logic, since it is unimportant anyways. Too much hard work has surely gone into this. Many scenes had intricate details, but one might wonder what is the point in having too many details for a scene that is too absurd.

And not to forget the final moment, where all the four major characters walk in parallel, as Kamal gives straight forward note on the sequel as an answer to the absurdly pointless statement from Pooja. I did note that Shekar Kapur at the right corner of the screen, grinning ashamedly to that petty talk. So, did I, because, I exactly knew the reason.

The good thing about “Viswaroopam” is that I liked it better than Ravikumar directed “Dasavatharam”. “Vishwaroopam” might have been intended to the mass deprived of authentic good quality movies for a while. Well, luckily I’m not into that scarcity, yet.

Viswaroopam | 2013

Genre: Action

Author : Viswanathan

Synopsis:Over ambitions venture of Kamal Haasan hitting a mediocre mark

Kamal Haasan, my personal favourite of all time, falls into the trap of not finding a balance between commercial and high quality movie making. In his fourth directional venture, “Ulaga Nayagan” Kamal Haasan exhausts all his efforts, yet drains out with explicit flaws. But one must admit that there only very few in Tamil Cinema who can even pull off this kind of a movie.

Most of the movie is set in New York and very well cinematographed. As expected the protagonist shows up in various styles of looks and does justice to each. Thanks to Kamal for sticking to changes in facial hairs and hairstyles unlike Dasavatharam with pathetic make-up. Mr. Haasan seems to be obsessed with the Tam-Bram dialect and awkwardly fits it into his movies. So does this movie open up with dialogues of the same dialect. Multiple scenes have been designed in sequence to bring out heroism all around the movie. Action sequences are done well and Kamal has not shown any constraints with spending his own money.

Haasan’s excellence of direction shown in “Hey Ram” and “Virumandi” does not pop up even in fragments anywhere in this movie. An agent trimming his hair in the midst of a bomb crisis to look better...taking his wife around when trying to diffuse a NYPD cars in the midst of Manhattan...give me a break...heights of crappy direction. At this point of his career, the degree of expectation from Kamal is very high. Delivering a movie that is so unclassy, Kamal seems to be running backward with his maturity of thoughts towards movie making. Vishwaroopam would have brought Kamal acclaims if it was made 15 years back.

I am sure Tamil Cinema was pinning trust on this man to take it to international acclaim. With Dasavadharam, Kamal ruined most of it which was at least acceptable with a third person direction. Writing and Directing a movie of Vishwaroopam cadre does not even take Tamil cinema anywhere close to international standards. Mere shooting of the film in foreign lands does not bring any honor. Kamal must strictly cut down pushing his personal ideologies including atheism into dialogues at irrelevant situations. This is most prevalent in all his movies which all the more draw the movie into the pit.

There is careful detailing of every scene which is appreciable. But they don’t even make a mark with a flawed storyline. Making a movie is not about proving the director’s knowledge of the world but in delivering a good movie and including only what is necessary. Though the movie shows up to have a grandiose plot, it is based out of a cheesy story that has been around for long and ending in the most expected style seen in every other Indian movie.

The writer has used real terrorist organization names all through the movie and deliberately uses relevant real time characters names too. Mimicking the most wanted terrorist of all time was well handled but as the movie progresses, the concepts of anti-terrorism or any good idea that the director tried to portray becomes meaningless and get drowned in his own heroism. Towards the end of the movie, a teaser of the part 2 is shown. Nothing much to comment until the movie is in theaters. But I set my expectation to zero so that it does not look as bad as it really is.

Leave A Thought...

Comment | 1/29/2013 10:37:33 PM
I say this is a perfect review!!! I felt the same pain going through the movie. Technically good, logically insane.

Shriram | 1/30/2013 6:39:32 AM
Disappointed with the review Sriram. This seems more a rant than an objective review. This would be more suited as a commentary on Vishwaroopam than a review of it.

I am not disagreeing with the overall suggestion that it is technically good but flawed in a lot of ways. I came back from the movie thinking the same that this could ve been a lot better movie by just changing a few scenes. Kamal seems to have wanted to make a taut, so-called international standard(hollywood seems to be his only inspiration here) action thriller but midway got cold-feet and decided to add a few safe-scenes for the Indian audience.. However I am going off-topic here about my criticism of the review.

How is "An agent trimming his hair in the midst of a bomb crisis to look better...taking his wife around when trying to diffuse a NYPD cars in the midst of Manhattan" crappy direction?? Crappy writing maybe if you feel that way but it can be crappy direction only if it wasn;t shot well. The car bursting out of the wall-apart:P I think the chase was decently shot. I actually loved the way the movie was directed. Kamal the director has been let-down by Kamal the writer and 'KAMAL-the big-egoed actor'.

Another simple example of inconsistency in the review - " But one must admit that there only very few in Tamil Cinema who can even pull off this kind of a movie." which seems to imply this is definitely slightly(however infinitesimal) ahead of the curve for Tamil cinema. But the review states later - 'Writing and Directing a movie of Vishwaroopam cadre does not even take Tamil cinema anywhere close to international standards'. So, which is it?

You guys write brilliant reviews and I don't comment on them, please take my silence as satisfaction:P. But if I feel that anything is not up to mark, I want to make sure to let you guys know. It is up to you guys to take it or leave it.


Kanda | 1/30/2013 6:50:09 PM
Can you guys organise this as per year of release or artist rather than alphabetically? Just a suggestion..

Shriram | 1/31/2013 4:19:35 PM
@Kanda, I second that. Actually, a link to get to the latest ones sooner - @ the home page or @ the top of the reviews page wud be gr8

Vishwa | 1/31/2013 10:46:52 PM
Spoiler alert!!!

To start with there is always the difference in opinion on a movie's standard between people. The review presented here is that of mine. I understand that you have liked the movie and the so called "rant" may have been disappointing. I intended to write a review here, but if appears to be a rant, that's how the movie was.

"...but midway got cold-feet and decided to add a few safe-scenes for the Indian audience.. "

Right there he failed. Compromises kill a movie and from Kamal Hassan I do not expect a compromise that will make the movie look funny. I expect it from Vijay and Vijaykanth who fight the terrorist forces just by themselves. At least they don't tend to use names where they were trained and stuff which makes it look a little less funnier.

"Crappy writing maybe if you feel that way but it can be crappy direction only if it wasn't shot well"

Direction is not about carrying a camera around an shooting the movie as written in the screenplay book. It is more. A movie cannot be directionally good with a bad story and screenplay. I believe it's the basic. To add more and dive deep, the first 20 minutes of the movie with Vishwanathan, the undercover identity acts with intelligence on par with a normal person or sometimes even below. He seems to ask for what to do when someone else is following him. Gets beaten up badly amidst the fact that he can collapse a whole army single handedly. All this sequenced to bring out the cheap heroic fight that follows. To make it more clear, the fight was shot very well but the unwanted waste of scenes to bring out the heroism and narration was silly. I could have agreed with this delivery if he later does not bring in real names like "al-qaeda" and Indian army. When you related to actual organizations, do justice to it. I don't expect an agent of Indian Army to take his wife along for diffusing a bombs. I just though "crappy" was a strong term, with this said, now it looks more appropriate. There are a thousand sequence that sparks in my mind, just running short of time and use for it.

"The car bursting out of the wall-apart:P I think the chase was decently shot"

I did mentioned that the action sequences were made well. But this car chase again looked illogical. A terrorist capable of blowing New York city, gets into a car rally on the streets of Manhattan and so easily goes off the radar of NYPD? In the first few scenes, dialogues gives details of the cold weather and "pneumonia" and so on. If he can concentrate on such minute details (which sometime looked to me as band aids trying to cover the incomparable holes in the story and screenplay), do you think NYPD or a terrorist would play racing on Manhattan streets?

"I actually loved the way the movie was directed. Kamal the director has been let-down by Kamal the writer and 'KAMAL-the big-egoed actor'."

A director always has total control over the movie. That is the reason all credits of a movie first goes to its director. Do you think the writer over ruled the director. If he did, again the movie and director have failed together. Kamal has made a silly movie with grand decoration and lets face the fact in spite of the fact that he is an all time favorite and one with immense capability and skill.

"Another simple example of inconsistency in the review"

There does not seem to be an inconsistency here. But will make it more elaborate. The first comment signifies the scale, money and the cast involved in the movie which is way beyond what the Tamil industry can easily achieve. Kamal is one of the few who can just not think about making a movie which is shot across the globe with top notch actors but can also achieve it. The later one is simply self explanatory, he just did not make what he boasts of, the so called "international standard". If doing a preview on Los Angeles down town was what he meant, I agree to his words.

Thanks again mate!

kadal | 3/19/2013 5:24:19 PM
Kadal review is missing bros !!!

Malinda | 3/26/2013 6:00:00 PM
There are no words to describe how bodcaious this is.