It is quite difficult for me to give exact reactions of Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam, not that there is a dearth of reaction but it is quite important to note that there is lot to be said and only one post to say it.
Let’s begin with Kamal himself, Vishwaroopam is his third official tamil film as director, close to seven years after the agitated rural drama Virumandi. The first, as our smart readers would remember as the decades spanning truly Indian epic “Hay Ram”, even smarter readers would recognize that the first film Kamal was officially credited as director was Chachi 420. Even more smarter readers would….nevermind.
The only thing that unites them is the different approach to telling a story.
Writer Kamal catches us off-guard, when we are just about to sink into what could have been a regular flashback and director Kamal literally stops time at infrequent intervals as if to add parts to a growing jigsaw puzzle that is never shown in its full light through the entire film!
I have always wrestled with the concept of the flashback, usually in films it is just at one go; but in reality do we reminisce an event in its entirety?
Kamal adopts these memory slash cuts from different perspectives, but thus faced with an unavoidable problem of knotting of it all together. Kamal feels almost motherly in his conviction in showing things from the other-side, constantly reversing roles on who is the hero and who is the villain. Yes, that is also summarised nicely as dialogue.
Terror is a theme Kamal regularly comes back to. There is a lot about terrorism in even in the films which are not thematically about terrorism: be it the bunching of ahimsa and violence quote in his previous Manmadan Ambu, even Dasavatharam has its share of terror group name droppings and Anbe Sivam begins with a ‘bloody’ confusion; perhaps the concept of living together with differences and that even a slight remark could cause an imbalance worries him.
But should Vishwaroopam be stripped out off all this theme-talk and treated as a tick tock race against time-save the world thriller, if so how does it fare?
Sometime in the film, in a warehouse: a sound informs us that there is a leak somewhere, a drop of water. Cuts to a drop of water falling into placid water creating ripples indicating how one trigger could bring out unforeseen transformations and similarly so in the film.
There is so much to see in Vishwaroopam, and Kamal guides it in a way that creates a feeling there is always more to come. Kamal getting behind the camera, is the best decision in years.
Also intact is his unabashed love for Hollywood films (opening dialogue is something straight out of The Godfather) and Vishwaroopam is only a resource strained (but optimized?) attempt at saying ‘I’ll do anything that you do’.
That previous statement drops right in the middle of a homegrown cinema vs feigned cinema debate; but I bravely choose to walk away from it.
Because in Vishwaroopam you are only assessing how good a reprint is, not questioning its existence. And personally, I am okay with ‘Hollywood-like’ thrillers.
I would also like to add that Vishwaroopam was the most fulfilling and entertaining Tamil film I had seen in years in the theatre, it satisfies the primeval want, “if only someone here makes a film like that*”.
Basic rule in film entertainment is stated as thus, “No film which has a villain who stores one eyeball in a plastic transparent dubba in gooey liquid has ever failed in any corner of the world”
Over to part II