Anupama Chopra's review: Vishwaroop

By Hindustan Times

Direction: Kamal Haasan
Actors: Kamal Haasan
Rating: ***

Vishwaroop has to be admired for its scale and ambition. Director, co-producer, co-writer and hero Kamal Haasan is attempting here to launch a franchise for himself. This first installment includes RAW agents, al Qaeda operatives, Osama Bin Laden and something called a cesium bomb, which promises to lay New York barren for two decades. The film is more Ek Tha Tiger than Zero Dark Thirty but parts of it, especially the beginning and the portions in al Qaeda camps, are engrossing. And for the record, I didn't find anything offensive in the material.

In fact, Kamal Haasan actually attempts to give the terrorists a context. The film shows us the collateral damage inflicted by America's war on terror, how children are indoctrinated from childhood into jihad and the inevitable tragedy that ensues for everyone fighting this futile battle. One character even says about US soldiers: Hum Allah ke liye khoon bahate hain aur yeh petrol ke liye.

And yet the film is too cartoonish to be taken too seriously. Rahul Bose, with his mouth permanently twisted down, makes for an unintentionally hilarious terrorist boss. The dialogue also adds touches of unforeseen humour: at one point, Vishwanath angrily tells his wife: I have a lot of emotional baggage and this is not the time to discuss it. There is also too much graphic violence - among other things, you see a man's body blown in half and a severed hand tossed around.

Still I think it's worth watching Vishwaroop just to see Kamal Haasan in form, especially as the effeminate dance teacher. After all, how many terrorist thrillers start with a kathak dance performance artfully choreographed by the legendary Birju Maharaj?

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