First things first, Kamal Haasan is one of the finest artists India has ever produced. I watched the first day show of Vishwaroop’s release in Mumbai. The film has been made both in Hindi and Tamil so thankfully it was not dubbed like Enthiran (Robot). The film is a gripping espionage story and in terms of the cinematography is at par with some of the Hollywood action thrillers. Kamal Haasan is first grade, in some of the sequences reminded me of his Velu Nayakan days where his big beautiful and expressive eyes created magic on-screen. An actor can give anything to possess those eyes.
The plot of the film is simple and can be summarised in a single line but the way it has been presented makes the film what it is, a remarkably good entertaining movie. There is a warning when the film opens advising that some scenes depicting gruesome violence may not be suitable for the faint hearted. Indeed there are some sequences which are very gross to the extent of making one squirm in the seat. The film takes inspiration from some popular tales of violence by the Taliban (beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl; suicide bombing outside US military camps; punishing people enjoying music; vendetta against those learning English; treating women with utmost disrespect etc.) and the retaliatory counter attacks by US Forces leading to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.
The film can be divided into four chapters: chapter one shows Haasan as a classical dancer with atypical feminine characteristics bordering on being stereotyped of being from a community, the representation of which in today’s popular cinema seems to be limited to elicit laughter. Haasan plays the character to a tee; of course his training as a classical dancer comes in handy to depict the dancer Vishwanath.
In the second chapter we come to know that Vishwanath is not only a superb dancer with great moves but also a Super Man who can decimate an army of trained terrorists with his killing moves. The transformation is awesome captured and the action sequences make the audiences cheer like crazy. Just before the metamorphosis, it is revealed that Vishwanath is not a Hindu but a Muslim and the audiences are made to imagine that perhaps Vishwanath is a terrorist who defected from the Group.
The third chapter: The action shifts to Afghanistan and in flashback Haasan is shown to be receiving training under the direct tutelage of Osama Bin Laden. He becomes an important member of the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in company of Mujhahids who believe that while they are fighting for Allah, the US is fighting for oil. It is a simple statement which most anti-US individuals believe to be true, so Haasan hasn’t attempted to be judgmental here as he has focused equally on the barbaric acts of violence by the Taliban as on the merciless bombing of villages by the US forces.
In the fourth chapter, it is cut-to present and it becomes evident that Haasan is not a defected terrorist but an agent of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) who is in the US to foil the plan of the Al-Qaeda terrorists who have planned a nuclear explosion in the US. The secrets are revealed and the mysteries of his multiple avatars are given away in a very exciting manner. The visual effects and the cinematography keeps one gripped. It is a must watch entertaining movie.
N.B: All the brouhaha about the film being anti-Islam is completely untrue. The only theory that comes to my mind regarding the unfounded fears about the movie portraying Muslims in bad light is about the title of the film which sounds like a Hindu God (Vishwanath — which is also the name of the character amazingly played by Shekhar Kapoor in the film). But literally translated the title of the film means state/nature of the world and has nothing to do with Hinduism. The protagonist of the film is a Muslim who prays to Allah, fights evildoers and helps to reinstate that Islam doesn’t propagate violence; it is selfish clerics who do. The film surely highlights terrorism which has been branded by the West as “Islamic Terrorism,” but in no way derogate Islam. It is a fact that religious fanatics from any religion in any part of the world are trying to achieve their evil motives by false propaganda. The Muslims who should be offended by this particular film are the Muslims of Taliban, surely not the ones living harmoniously in India. The opinion makers/clerics in India who tried to colour the perception of our innocent Muslim brethren even before the film was released will surely go to Jahannum (Hell).