Director: Kamal Haasan
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Andrea Jeremiah, Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose
Music director: Ghibran
Vishwaroopam 2 seeks to give its lead, the hard-to-pin-down Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri, some much-needed roots. The ease with which the trained RAW agent slips so easily into the skin of an effeminate Kathak teacher is explained as the result of years of training with his dancer-mother.
The slow, evocative melody Naanagiya Nadhimoolamae sets the stage for a series of vignettes from Wisam’s past. He shares a strong bond with his mother, dancing onstage with her (as MGR looks on!). Later, when he realises that revealing his true self would adversely affect his mother, who now has Alzheimer’s, he refrains. It’s easily the best scene in a movie that coasts along on a series of show boat-type stunt performances.
For a film that has released five years after the first part, Vishwaroopam 2 does not seem too dated. It’s got all its thrills in the right places. The film races to the finish line, one set piece giving way to another.
The film seeks to make the audience understand that Muslims can be patriots, and that the two ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Interestingly, a double agent in the film is called Eshwar Iyer, reiterating this point.
Wisam’s characterisation itself makes him a very unreliable narrator. He is a sleeper agent masquerading as a Kathak teacher. And so, his idea of right and wrong maybe skewed, though it’s his version of events that is presented to us as the truth. Throughout the first film, Wisam was an indecipherable figure. It made him mysterious and deadly. The sequel’s attempt to ground him (that Tirunelveli accent comes and goes!) is only somewhat effective. He is still a difficult man to figure out, and till the very end, we don’t really know if he loves his wife.
Which brings us to the romance angle. The effeminate Vishwanath repelled Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), but Wisam is another case altogether. She is drawn to this new persona, and spends the first half of the film in one swoon after the other. The notion of an older man with a younger woman is not new to society or cinema. And yet, it is awkward to see Kamal Haasan indulge in a spot of intimacy with the much younger Pooja Kumar. The audience in the theatre I was in loved it though, and greeted it with loud whistles and cheers.
Rahul Bose is suitably deadly as Omar, the villain from the first film. He is a religious fanatic committed to his cause and will go to any end to see his plans through. He will not see reason, and will not hesitate to kill his own family, if they go against Allah. Bose’s portrayal of Omar gives the man more layers. Towards the end, he physically withers, yet his eyes seek vengeance. “Dont worry, I won’t die before killing you,” he tells Wisam. In his weakened condition, he is in no condition to go through with his plans. But the menacing stare makes one think otherwise.
In a recent interaction, Kamal said that he wanted to make an Indian espionage thriller that he would like to see. The overall effort seems to be in making this happen. There are underwater stunts, shadowy double agents and a shipwreck in England that could potentially destroy the country, if the need ever arose. Someone on Twitter called all this ‘high concept’.
For an audience steadily fed a stream of Hollywood films and television series, these might not mean much. But, as an Indian production, the film is certainly a commendable effort.
The one space where the espionage thriller goes awry is in its attempt to glorify the hero at every opportunity. Every time Kamal does a daring stunt sequence, music director Ghibran gives us a thundering score. Yes, we get it. Heroes who do their own stunts must be appreciated. But, must we also do so for those who produce, write, direct and star in their own films?
The Vishwaroopam 2 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.