Film: Vishwaroopam/Vishwaroop (Tamil-Telugu/Hindi)
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Rahul Bose, Pooja Kumar, Upendra, Andrea Jeremiah, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shekhar Kapur
Director: Kamal Haasan
Produced: Raaj Kamal Films International, Chandra Haasan, Kamal Haasan
Lyrics: Vairamuthu, Kamal Haasan (for the Tamil songs), Javed Akhtar (for the Hindi version)
Plot Summary: Set in USA and Afghanistan, the movie revolves around Bharatnatyam teacher Vishwanath (Kamal Haasan) and his wife Dr Nirupama (Pooja Kumar). Vishwanath seems to lack the masculanity Nirupama wants and she is attracted to her boss. An Afghani Al-Qaeda Jihadi Omar (Rahul Bose), his accomplice Salim (Jaideep Ahlawat) and their international terror network, plots to attack New York with a "Cesium-bomb". Doubting whether her husband has secrets of his own, Nirupama hires a private investigator to trail Vishwanath. She learns from the private investigator that Vishwanath is not a Hindu but a Muslim.
Haasan's Vishwaroopam boasts of a young cast and the actor-filmmaker explains that he has roped them in because he was looking for talented people and not stars.
What the critics have to say:
G Prmaod Kumar, Firstpost
Kamal Haasan takes on the Hollywood genre of suspense thrillers and pulls it off reasonably well. The result is a pulsating thriller, which doesn’t have the usual filmy twists, a demanding script or punch-lines, but is packed with high powered live action, convincing combat sequences, original military hardware, impressive technical prowess and the star himself in at least three different get-ups. It also has drama in good measure.
Perhaps this is the first time that he looks justified in his life-long obsession with the technical flourish of Hollywood. The earlier attempt, Dasavathaaram in which he donned ten roles, was a prosthetic mishap.
B.V.S. Prakash, Deccan Chronicle
Even though, writer-director Kamal tries to connect the alien story of war between jihadis and Americans, by planting a Telugu-speaking protagonist, as a ‘mole’, in the jihadi camp in Afghanistan, it fails to connect. However, you could empathise with the pain and anguish of the Muslim community, which is suffering in the hands of the Americans in the desert island, where dreams of youngsters to become doctors or engineers are crushed under the debris of American bombings.
Instead of showing them as American-haters, the director also depicts the human side of the ruthless jihadi leader (Rahul Bose) who repents for the jihadi war. The mission of the RAW agent is to bust the ‘sleeper-cell’ of the jihadis in the US, which is planning to spread nuclear radiation by tying “capsules” on the pigeons in New York and also conduct serial blasts in the happening city. Several jihadis are shown in sick and pathetic condition as they scratch nuclear powder from an oncologist’s machines and store it for a bigger blast
Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam is likely to be appreciated by lovers of Hollywood action films. Kamal Haasan has delivered an outstanding performance. Shekhar Kapur makes a rare and satisfying on-screen appearance. Rahul Bose is dignified and effective as Omar, the boss of an Afghanistan-based terrorist outfit. Leading lady Pooja Kumar is more than adequate and the artiste who dubbed her voice in Telugu suits her style perfectly. Nazar and Andrea Jeremiah are average in their roles. Jaideep Ahlawat is good as Omar's right hand man.
Sanu John Varghese's cinematography is extraordinary. Mahesh Narayan's editing is also perfect. The credit goes to Kamal Haasan since he was the one who reportedly conducted a scientific study about the US Army and their fighting techniques. Kamal Haasan also excels as director. The narrative technique of flashback episodes is thrilling. The film's only minus point - the placement of songs works as speed breakers for a spy thriller.
Verdict: Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam is likely to be appreciated by lovers of Hollywood action films.
Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, The Hindu
Vishwaroopam is engaging, keeps you engrossed and as you try to make a semblance of the puzzle, several questions arise. Kamal Haasan sets up an interesting premise for part 2. Sanu Varghese’s spectacular cinematography becomes as important as the actors in this thriller. The camera takes us into the dangerous alleys of New York and the muddy, rugged terrain of Afghanistan. In the opening sequence involving pigeons, Varghese captures the mood of the birds giving us a hint of an ominous force at work.
It’s a film that needs to be watched closely to follow the different aspects of the story. The graphic violence in some sequences make it unfit for viewing by children. Vishwaroopam is a good watch for a discerning movie lover.
Verdict: A gripping spy thriller of international standards.