Joined: 26 February 2012
IBN Tamil Nadu, Updated Feb 01, 2013 at 10:06am IST
New Delhi: Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam' hits theatres in Hindi on Friday as Vishwaroop. CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor watched the movie and found there was nothing communally offensive in the film. Most film critics who have seen Vishwaroop said the controversy was much ado about nothing.
"Having watched Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam, I think I can safely say that the film is not anti-Muslim. It is not a film that should offend Muslim sensibilities. The film's theme in the backdrop is one terrorism, it is set around and after the events of 9/11. You can say that the film is anti-terrorism but it's not anti-Muslim. In fact that's the point that has been made by the one positive Muslim character in the film," Masand said.
Earlier on Friday, Kamal Haasan implored the fundamentalists to "see reason" and said he will not stop pursuing negotiations with them over his film 'Vishwaroopam', while talking to CNN-IBN on Thursday night. The actor and director also claimed he does not "rule out politics" in the controversy that has surrounded his Rs 95 crore budget film.
Haasan said his film would "make Indian Muslims proud". However, he questioned whether those protesting against his film "understood cinema".
A now visibly mellowed Haasan said his statement on Tuesday about leaving the country was out of anger and he was very "inflamed". Haasan, who earlier in the day thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for clarifying her stand on the ban on the film, said he could not reach her initially, which resulted in him approaching the court.
Review: Inoffensive Vishwaroopam is one helluva entertainer
Published: Thursday, Jan 31, 2013, 16:25 IST | Updated: Thursday, Jan 31, 2013, 16:52 IST
By Subhash K Jha | Place: Mumbai | Agency: IANS
Joined: 26 February 2012
Film: Vishwaroopam / Vishwaroop; Actors: Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose, Andrea Jeremiah, Shekhar Kapur and Jaideep Ahlawat; Director: Kamal Haasan
First things first. Kamal Haasan's enormously controversial film doesn't hurt Muslim sentiments. In fact, it doesn't hurt the sentiments of anybody except those party-poopers who think having a ball at the movies went out of style with Sholay and Chachi 420. Leave aside its sobering take on global warfare, Vishwaroop, the Hindi version of the Tamil / Telugu Vishwaroopam, is one helluva entertainer.
If you've forgotten what edge-of-the-seat entertainment meant, it is time to rediscover it. Stylish and substantial, the narrative weaves and winds its way into coherent and compulsive threads that bring together the theme of international espionage with the more sensitive issues of the Islamic and the personal identity of a man, whose heroic stature grows out of a sense of commitment to the country and to world peace.
Personal interests, we are told, are easy to put aside if you can define heroism from a context far greater than your own good. The deeper thrusts of Haasan and Atul Tiwari's devious screenplay leap out of this compact epic drama, which takes off into the Taliban terror outfit in Afghanistan and hence to the New York suburbia where domestic normalcy is replaced by a violence – a kind of ceaselessly renewable violence that has gripped working-class lives ever since the 26/11 attack on the US. It made it clear that international terrorism is here to stay. Deal with it.
Just about the only desirable thing that emerges from the horrific folds of global militancy are some great adventure sagas. And Vishwaroop is as gripping as it gets. The narrative moves steadily and sharply to an inevitable nemesis. Maverick director Haasan (and this is his best directorial attempt since the grossly underrated Hey Ram in 2000) is in no hurry to tell his tale. Not that he wastes time. The mood for adventure is built quickly, and the payoff is satisfying.
With some remarkably austere and sharp editing by Mahesh Narayan and camerawork by Sanu John Verghese that captures scenes of violence with as much rugged candour as the sharply-drawn scenes from the hero's personal life, Haasan's tale of terror during the times of love, witticism, philosophising and, yes, dancing comes alive in a huge adrenaline rush of adventure, action, drama and other related artistic tools, which never come in the way of the actor-director's primary concern.
Haasan means business. He is here to narrate an edge-of-the-seat story of international terrorism. The rigorous research that has gone into the plot never weighs down on the narration. Whether infiltrating the Al-Qaeda (scarily real in the detailing and eerily cinematic in its visual sweep) or focussing on the hijinks of our hero, the creative crossovers in the narrative are achieved with the fluency of chapters in a deftly-written novel.
And yet Haasan avoids getting overly breathless in his narration. Shall we just say Vishwaroop moves at the pace that it is meant to? Neither measured, nor hurried, the director negotiates the socio-political and cultural spaces in the plot with an elegant erudition. Gone is the heavily cerebral over-studied atmosphere of his earlier directorial epic Dasavathaaram. Also gone is the over-indulgent footage-occupancy of this actor's recent screen outings.
Yes, Haasan dominates the show with three different avatars whose destinies intertwine in ways that one can't reveal without giving plot away. But that's the way the plot unfolds. That is the way it is meant to be. The narrative in this case just can't get enough of Haasan. Who but this actor can pull off heart-in-the-mouth never-seen stunts (action director Lee Whittaker and his associates have done a remarkable job) in the same range of vision as an elegantly performed Kathak number?
Pooja Kumar as Kamal Haasan's beloved is charming. She has a pleasant screen presence and yes, she isn't in awe of her awesome co-star. However, if anyone leaves a lasting impression after Haasan, it is Rahul Bose, who as an Al-Qaeda chap swathes his persona in menace and terror without getting into the gritting-teeth mould. Bose had last played a villain in Govind Nihalani's Thakshak in 1999. It is no coincidence that he returns to the colour black in a film that in many ways owes allegiance to the dark sinister angry anti-establishment tales of Nihalani. But Haasan adds a dash of warmth and humour to the intrinsically ominous saga. He is in terror-land with his tongue firmly in cheek.
The sharply-drawn characters, the terrifying insight into the psyche of terrorism and the sumptuous mounting and packaging add up to a movie that is quite easily one of the finest adventure sagas in recent times. The action sequences are, at last, on a par with Hollywood.
Insult to any community? Hah! It would be an insult to the filmmaking community to miss Vishwaroop. Miss this big screen adventure your own risk.
Joined: 05 April 2007
Joined: 19 May 2012
Joined: 07 July 2011
Movie review: Vishwaroop
Cast:Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur
Director: Kamal Haasan
An enigmatic hero engaged in a bitter and dangerous battle of attrition with a particularly devious duo of bad guys ' that is essentially the simple premise that Vishwaroop rests on.
But trust producer-director-actor Kamal Haasan to serve up the good old filmic formula in a well-mounted cinematic package that lends the largely predictable material an impressive veneer.
The magnificently executed espionage thriller pits a Muslim RAW agent against a jihadi sleeper cell that is hatching a plot to detonate a nuclear device in the heart of New York.
As the network of terrorists moves, one step at a time, closer to their nefarious goal, the tension rises steadily and culminates in a climatic race against time that save New York all right but leaves the hero's mission incomplete.
Not only is that conclusion pretty much like the global war on terror that continues to this day, but it also keeps the door open for a sequel, which, we are told in no uncertain terms at the end of Vishwaroop, is "coming soon".
In recent years, both Hollywood and Bollywood have delivered many films about terrorism with varying degrees of success. To the credit of Vishwaroop, it does not for a moment look like one too many.
The primary appeal of the film stems from the mystery that envelopes the character of the male protagonist. Who he really is isn't fully revealed until quite late in the narrative.
His estranged wife, a nuclear oncologist who is more in the dark about his antecedents than anyone else, asks him: "What are you ' a hero or a villain? A good man or a bad man?" His reply is characteristically non-committal.
The protagonist in question is Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri, alias Vishwanath (Kamal Haasan), who is a kathak guru in the US. His effeminate guise hides a secret that tumbles out of a hazy past.
When the man they call Wiz is pushed to a corner in a warehouse by an armed terrorist, he pulls out the stops and wife gapes in amazement.
Equally intriguing are the people who surround him. A "mama (maternal uncle) from London" (Shekhar Kapur) comes calling without warning. It turns out that there is much more to him than meets the eye.
A kathak student (Andrea Jeremiah) doubles up as an assistant to the secret agent when the need arises.
And, of course, there is the wife, Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), who is in the midst of an affair with her boss (Samrat Chakrabarti). The latter, in turn, has a liaison with the jihadis who want to get their hands on the "dirty bomb" that they need to raze New York to the ground.
Vishwaroop is technically dazzling. The big scenes of battle (in Afghanistan) and violent confrontation (in the US), to put it simply, are outstanding.
However, as is the norm with films about terrorism, the motivation of the men fighting a 'holy war' against the US of A is explained primarily in religious terms. The history of the never-ending confrontation is alluded to only in stray pieces of dialogue referring to "what the US has done to us".
The leader of the sleeper cell is Omar (Rahul Bose), a man who has been so badly injured in a US strike on his base in Afghanistan that he has lost an eye and his larynx. His right hand man, Salim (Jaideep Ahlawat), is a ruthless killer blindly committed to the cause.
In a film in which the protean Kamal Haasan plays the lead, the least you can expect is a performance of the highest order. He dons three different looks in Vishwaroop ' the timid dance teacher, the cool spy and a terror camp trainer. He is perfect in each of them.
Pooja Kumar brings a wide-wide wonder to her character ' perfectly in keeping with a woman who is completely at sea with the men in her life ' her husband, who she married only because she wanted a green card, and her lover, a wealthy entrepreneur she believes will help her escape the drab marriage.
A slew of fine supporting performances by Rahul Bose, Jaideep Ahlawat and Shekhar Kapur, among others, adds weight to an already formidable film. Vishwaroop is a must watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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