Vishwaroop 2 Review

Kamal Haasan’s “Vishwaroop 2” sadly has too many stunts, expense and used-up resources but a lack of content and soul. (photo provided)

Raaj Kamal Films International, Rohit Shetty Pictures & Reliance Entertainment present “Vishwaroop 2”

Produced by: S. Chandrahasan & Kamal Haasan

Directed by: Kamal Haasan

Written by: Kamal Haasan with Hindi dialogues by Atul Tiwari

Music by: Mohammad Ghibran

Starring: Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Waheeda Rehman, Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur, Jaideep Ahlawat, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, Rajendra Gupta, Mir Sarwar, Deepak Jethi, Nasser, Yusuf Hussain and others

MUMBAI—A tight if controversy-attacked first part told the story of its protagonist Viz aka Vishwanath aka Wisam (Kamal Haasan), an Indian RAW agent, deciding to go after the escaped terrorist Omar (Rahul Bose) in the end, even as if his wife Dr. Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), a nuclear oncologist, finds out that her husband and his uncle (Shekhar Kapur) are actually working for the Indian espionage service.

This film, however, is a ‘circumquel,’ which is the term coined for being both a prequel and sequel, and almost half of it was filmed with the older part. But the problem is that the narrative technique, with back-and-forth interpolations of past and present, ends up not just confusing but also incoherent. Anyone who has not watched the earlier part will probably understand nothing of what is going on—a fatal mistake for any film as a standalone movie.

Worse, by no means was the earlier film so memorable, or recent, that we can recall its complex plot, so even those who watched the film earlier do not remember the details! Here is a relevant excerpt from my review in India West then: “Writer-director Kamal Haasan, doing a slick job, has candidly left an open end for a sequel, which we hope will be extraordinary.”

And that last thing does not happen here. But before that, plot-driven true sequels could be given a crisp prelude detailing the high points of the older movie, as was done in “Phir Hera Pheri,” and must have a standalone story (“Krrish,” “Dabangg,” et al.).

Director Kamal Haasan’s gimmicky technique of freeze shots and abrupt cuts adds to our woes. Two more strong negatives are the intruding background songs (many with funny, silly or incomprehensible lyrics as in all dubbed films except for the “Bahubali” franchise) and the overloud background music. The worst part of the film are the Hindi subtitles given whenever needed, but which are in needlessly small font, and disappear too fast for even a speedy reader!

The overdone dialogues (Hindi by Atul Tiwari, who, poor man, has no choice but to translate and transcreate lines for the lip-synch) and some repulsive violence (good espionage films have ACTION, not violence) like a knife stuck in the eye (believe it or nuts, that’s one of the less gruesome scenes!) were avoidable.

The newly introduced angle of a mother (Waheeda Rehman) and her son does not really work. The veteran actress, for her negligible role, is very evocative as an Alzheimer’s patient, but Kamal Haasan’s expressions did not evoke the intensity of the emotions as much as an actor of his stature could have done.

Also, the characters of Wizam’s boss (Shekhar Kapur, who craves for his agent’s safety but is indifferent to his wife’s well-being, and then suddenly disappears from the film!) and the other chief (Rajendra Gupta) emerge confused. We also did not understand certain supposedly comic touches like Wizam’s colleague Asmita (Andrea Jeremiah, very natural and impressive) seen in the same bed with him by his wife, and some other typical South film ‘humor’ that is absolutely ridiculous!

I liked the last segment wherein Kamal, a patriotic Muslim who always states that he fights for his country and not religion, gently points out to Omar that his two sons are now in medical and engineering institutions, something that ‘jihadis’ like him would have never allowed. Within this single line, and the dying Omar’s acceptance and acknowledgment of the sentiment lies a world of truth and depth about the futility of Islamic terrorism globally.

Technically it is a savvy film, and the Afghan village is impressively recreated by Lalgudi Ilayaraja and the far-eastern art director Boontawee ‘Tor’ Taweepasas.

Kamal Haasan rises above his age in his performance. But sadly, he is back in self-indulgent mode, which did not happen to undue extents in the earlier film but has been otherwise witnessed throughout the last decade and more (“Abhay,” “Dashavtar” and “Mumbai Express” in particular). Rahul Bose hams except for in his death scene, which he does brilliantly. Pooja Kumar is alright, but I really liked Jaideep Ahlawat as Omar’s acolyte.

But the final result is – sadly – too many stunts, expense and used-up resources but a lack of content and soul.

Rating: **

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