Went to watch Vishwaroopam today. The Tamil version with English subtitles. In a hall full of Tamilians.
Kamal Haasan (probably Rajnikanth as well) movies should ONLY be watched in Tamil and in a hall full of Tamilians. Otherwise, you can only appreciate the genius of Kamal Haasan, not the passion he invokes. The titles opened to whistles, and shouts in the entire hall. Suddenly I see confetti being thrown at the screen. Probably were flower petals or currency notes. Every time, Kamal Haasan’s name appeared in the titles, the shouts would go off.
When I was standing in line the guy behind me was telling me that a substantial number of dialogs are in English and anyway the subtitles will work fine for you. “How do you know”, I asked. “Well,” he replied sheepishly, “I came yesterday as well.” I laughed. “Again? Is it that good”. He nodded. I knew I was on to some fun tonight.
So, how was the movie? Simply. I liked it. Well researched. Specially the scenes in Afghanistan were done with a lot of research and authentic looking sets and acting.
Story: Kamal Movie opens with Kamal Haasan’s wife, Nirupama (played by Pooja Kumar) in the movie talking to her shrink admitting her extra-marital involvement with her boss. Haasan teaches Kathak in New York. His wife, who married him only so she could study in US, is a Nuclear Oncologist. Her boss, it turns out, is mixed up with the Jehadis.
Meanwhile, to reduce her own guilt of infidelity, she is getting Kamal Haasan (Mr. Vishwanath, then) spied on. The Private detective finds out that Mr. Vishwanath is actually a devout Muslim. But he lands up in the hands of Jehadis – sleeper cell – and dies. Meanwhile, the Jehadis from this cell land up in the Kamal Haasan’s house and kidnap them.
Thereafter starts an intermix of flashback and current story running in tandem, but very expertly woven. The action sequences were done in an amazing way, and background score is also fairly good.
In the end, however, I felt the script became a bit cliched and wayward. The way the life in Afghanistan was depicted, that attention to detail was not as visible – or tightness of script – wasn’t there in the end. Drama at that time took away from the suspense and the impact.
Controversy and depiction of Muslims
Well the Jehadis – Taliban and Al Qaeda – are shown the way they are. Fundamentalist, brain washed and in a bad situation and living with stupid choices. So, there was no “better way” to show them and their use of Islamic symbolism.
On the other hand, Kamal Haasan plays the role of a R&AW officer who is a Muslim and one of the most respected in the force. He saves many lives by “doing the right thing” and yet being a devout Muslim.
So, any Muslim who is all worked up about the “bad depiction” of the Muslims, clearly has his sympathies with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. No sane Muslim would have any issue with the movie.
Hence I stand by my analysis of the situation in India about the ban even more solidly now! It is not about the movie anymore.