cinema cinema:tamil Movie Notes

Vishwaroopam II: Tinkered Tailored Older Spy


Let’s start with the ending
The thing that struck me about the first Vishwaroopam, a film for which I crossed state borders covertly to watch(much like an espionage operation) was the abruptness in the ending.

It ends with Wisam telling that there is more to the story and what we witnessed is not really ‘the end’, but it did not have the niggling hook that would keep me guessing on what the next part would explore and moreover it did not really help that Kamal himself is delivering this as exposition and not a visually striking image of say a (too use the often used) Kattappa killing Baahubali.

Even looking at the first part in a facile manner which is a spy navigating between complexities and saving the world; the film did provide enough closure.
{Bad guys plans a series of attacks on a city and a team of spies unearth and thwart the operation.}
But Vishwaroopam is not a superficial spy thriller, at least it aims to do more.


At the core of it all is Wisam Ahmed Kashmiri, a spy who believes in his cause someone who does not treat his license to kill as target practice and is empathetic to those he might have to kill.

Case in point is the friendship between Omar Khureshi, Salim and Wisam which takes up much of the middle of the first movie and these threads need to be addressed.
(not necessary a universal requirement, but more like universal hero’s requirement)

That brings us to Vishwaroopam II, which works more as a companion piece to the first film and not as a sequel; filling in for things that better explain the Indian spy’s motivations.

While the movie does go deeper into things that were throwaways in the first film, especially effective is Wisam’s relationship with his mother.(Waheeda Rehman in a brief role, last seen in Tamil cinema in the 1956 film Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum). Wiz temporarily returns to being Vishwanath in a teary moment dominated by Alzheimer’s (second medical ailment in the franchise after killer cancer in the Roopam I), when the movie is just about casting away the role of the dancer.

Needless to say, Kamal is on top form or is it like displaying all these nuances in half-awake mode now? The other story machinations like how Wisam became Viz are less successful, a London mission before the intermission seems like a very long stop-over before Wisam and team reach the national capital.

I love the spy films in all forms, they lend themselves to the multi dimensional entertainment, the genre comfortably accommodates modern action films like the Bourne movies, cinephile-treasures like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the wink-winks like The Kingsman, send-ups like Paul Feig’s Spy and Oscar favourites like Argo and these are only from recent memory. All of them add to and derive from the construct of the spy thriller.

Vishwaroopam II draws from all the aforementioned sub-genres and naturally the result is not a satisfying mix; for a moment it a mission-driven-race-against-the-ticking -bomb-action-film, a few scenes later it is a musing on the futility of war and even further down the run-time it is an examination of loyalty and nationalism.

There’s isn’t time for all this, boss. Omar waits with one more bomb around the corner. (A bomb around the corner would have a been a better title to this piece, #justsaying)

There simply isn’t time and it shows, the action seems too rushed and the globe-hopping locations which usually adds to the excitement and romance to these spy films here are just tailored to suit exposition dumps.

The lack of resources too very evident, with the actors limited to performing in moving cars or in an uncharacteristic hotel suite and the number of times toilets conveniently appear in this film only made me think about how constrained the production would have been ; a stark opposite to the expanse of Afghanistan which was reiterated multiple times in the first film.

As though to make up for all the above, there are genuine fun sequences in the film and director Kamal draws me in with a cracker of a title sequence which is a crash course of things past in freeze time played to new version of Nyagabagam Varugiradha.

The story is also in the telling, the nonlinearity is intact and Wisam still gets to sweat about his past. Packed with multiple “woohoo!” moments and timely call-backs to the first film (Namaz panna poriya!). In Kamal’s world even a blood splatter can dissolve into a map.


But Omar bhai takes precedence over everything and Rahul Bose is absolutely fantastic as the villain who thinks he is the hero and wait a minute, he isn’t even in the movie till the third act.

I loved how the movie returned to the outrageous-ness of Roopam I, when he came back on screen giving Wisam something really challenging to work with, because until then Wisam was just putting bureaucrats in place with his wit.

Yes yes, I also know that the movie tries to deal with larger issues like how education is important, how war creates more problems than it can solve etc, how nationalism cannot be ‘instilled’ etc but OK this is not the blog site for all that boring stuff.

But this is the kind-off blog which will stand-up and applaud at the inane moment of the villain’s glass eye popping out and rolling on the streets of Delhi. Movies like these are hard to come by and need to be savoured probably with steaming jilebis.

Good luck Wisam! Hat-tip to Munnavar!

cinema cinema:english


Midnight in Paris (2011)

This is how it begins, gloriously in the present

I have never been to Paris, I don’t know if I can; but then if I do I would like to sit down somewhere and write a page; a desperate test to check if the world’s most beautiful city can actually help me in writing better, knowing myself I would probably make fifteen more spelling errors than usual in all my nervousness caused by the simple fact of realizing something I casually wished for. But then I would like to go.

Gil Pender, a screen-writer from Hollywood with dreams that city of Paris itself would flow into him in creative colors and aid him in completing his first serious novel; much like his idols from the 1920s, he truly believes that the city itself is magical and would be kind enough to him as it was to Hemmingway and others. If only he had come alone.

Together with his wife to be and her parents who are in the least interested in the city’s streets and cultural history but more so in the shops that sell furniture and the comfort that farm houses offer; the parents are irked by his romanticism and the lady is happy to be floored by the superficial effervescence of Paul Bates, a college flame the couple bump into.

It isn’t the whole concept of belief in a literary utopia which is existed before our time that draws me into this picture; but the simplicity of how it becomes true facilitated by Woody Allen’s typewritten screenplay (yes he still uses one).

Nostalgia is a subject of daily discussion, if only we would notice; the feeling that the time that passed by was always better exists within everyone; it still is the best way to build a conversation with anyone, not just the people who are old; but even the recent pass-outs who cry over how good cartoon network was so much better than the power rangers their siblings get to watch now.

Allen’s films have always been filled with his questions, mostly concerning love, death or both. He has for the past so many years, like a donkey to the wall tried to find answers for any form of relevance of life by posing these questions to somehow arrive at any satisfactory answers. He has single handedly in my opinion built his way of thinking along his filmography and innocently chiding those who believe.

“How can I believe? When all I see around me is human suffering”

Nostalgia too acts as a cushion to Allen, he uses it extensively in Radio Days about the time how everyone at home had a favorite song and a favorite show and how people still lived together, laughed and fought over them, nostalgia only increases with utter disdain to present life.But he has answers too, this time.

Maybe we were in happier times before, but did we realize it only later, were we really happy during those times or become intermittently when reminiscing those moments, if so that leaves the present completely out of human life, no relevance at all.

Through the course of his escapades in early 20th century Paris, Gil Pender meets Adriana, the muse of many painters including Pablo Picasso; but she feels that the period just before the first world war (Belle Epoche) is the best time to live in, but those who actually inhabit it(BE) feel otherwise. Human disenchantment for the present seems to have had a long history.

Within all this, Allen squeezes through his usual puzzling love, comic timing and ensemble cast who not only do not drop a single note but behave as just they should making it his truest movies in years, as a fan though I have always something or the other to smile about in the films that he makes, but Midnight in Paris is truly magical.

A reviewer once spoke about how he saw a certain film in a rainy night in Paris and that was perhaps the best way to have seen the film and has since loved it. I have till now watched MIP thrice, twice alone and my amazement for the movie has only risen.

Last year we had Drive, Tinker Tailor, Hugo and Midnight in Paris, it seems we do live in the best of times and will only have to turn to nostalgia when it comes to human suffering.