‘Vishwaroop’ review: Kamal Haasan dazzles in spy-thriller

Gayatri Sankar

When the film opens with Nirupama (played by debutant Pooja Kumar) discussing her sex life with her counselor, you will be left to wonder if Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus has got anything to do with action! It looks far from being a spy-thriller. Nirupama, an ambitious girl with a doctorate in nuclear oncology gets married to a much older ‘effeminate’ Kathak exponent Vishwanath (played by Kamal Haasan) on her uncle’s (played by Shekhar Kapur) behest and to get a green card for US citizenship.

However, she does refrain from indulging in adultery with her super rich handsome boss Deepak (played by Samrat Chakrabarti), who keeps hitting on her time and again. Her conscience doesn’t let her cheat on her husband, though she does get annoyed with him for not being the man of her desires.

Despite the fact that she doesn’t share a typical marital relationship with her husband, she does begin to feel attached to him. At the same time, an apprehensive Nirupama looks for a convincing reason to divorce her husband by checking out if he has an affair with someone else. And hence, in order to keep a check on Viz (Vishwanath), she hires a detective, who updates her about her husband’s activities when she is away at work.

Little does she know that her suspicion will land her in deep trouble, and might even prove fatal for her!

‘Vishwaroop’ has an ensemble cast that includes power house of talent Rahul Bose. The super talented actor plays Omar, an Al-Qaeda jihadi who is fluent in Pushto, Arabic, Hindi and English. Omar masterminds a deadly cesium attack on New York. He, along with his associate Salim (played by Jaideep Ahlawat), conspires an attack against the US forces in a war-ravaged Afghanistan. The master-network of crime has already been responsible for holding some Americans captive in their hide-outs. They also have a large number of associates, including a group of opium traders.

The film is very much “Hollywood-like” in terms of its presentation. The framing, the picturisation and the cinematography are par excellence. Kudos to Kamal Haasan for coming up with such a brilliant concept and executing it stylishly. Portraying terrorism on screen isn’t an easy job. And to do it with élan and sensibility does need wisdom. The veteran actor is indeed bestowed with all of it; otherwise a film like ‘Vishwaroop’ couldn’t have taken birth.

With the film, Haasan has given a visual reference to the dreadful face of terrorism, its consequences and its impact on innocent lives. It also throws light on how young minds are molded to best suit their mission and the reckless leaning behind turning immature minds into jihadis. As a cinematic piece, ‘Vishwaroop’ comes across as a magnificent piece of art build over in-depth analysis, deep thinking and quality research work.

The story is based in the US and Afghanistan and the locations couldn’t have been made to look more real. The art director does need a pat on his back for skillfully constructing Afghanistan in Jordan and various other places. Even studios in Chennai have been used for shooting. The sets look incredibly real. Even the costume designer has done a fabulous job for making the artists look close to real life terrorists!

Sanu Varghese has made the most of his cinematography skills and pulled off a stunner.

Foreign actors have also done a commendable job and have given the film all that it needed to look close to real.

Coming to the performances, Pooja Kumar looks promising. She is spontaneous and has tremendous screen presence. Even Andrea Jeremiah as Ashmita (who plays Kamal Haasan’s Kathak disciple) looks impressive. And needless to say, ace filmmaker Shekhar Kapur not only knows how to make his actors perform, but also knows how to deliver a performance worthy of applause. Jaideep Ahlawat’s performance as Salim will leave an indelible impact and Rahul Bose’s work is worth a million pounds. He is devastatingly good as the bad boy in the film. And last but not the least, Kamal blooms and spreads his fragrance around. Not that the world was unaware of his caliber, but ‘Vishwaroop’ will amplify his credibility manifold not just as an actor but also as a filmmaker.

The film, at certain junctures does look a bit of a drag and is relatively slow paced (considering most films these days have great velocity). And the disturbing action sequences (though acceptable) justify the disclaimer at the beginning of the film that reads that people with a frail heart should avoid watching the action sequences.

Despite certain glitches, the film has all the required ingredients of a super hit film.

Highly recommended.