Terror with nuance


Vishwaroop (Hindi)

Director:Kamal Haasan

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur, Jaideep Ahlawat, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah

Let's see now. What did I get offended by in Vishwaroop? By the fact that Kamal Haasan plays an effeminate dance teacher in an American town? No, Haasan has proved that he is good at both classical dancing and being limp-wristed, on screen. Or by the fact that his wife is played by a girl who looks young enough to be his daughter? No, Haasan has given himself an out on this one: the script calls him a "much older man" who is a prize catch only because he has a green card.

Once I was done casting about for things to get offended by, I sat down to watch the film, which turned out to be fairly gripping in true comic book style, covering such current hot topics like global terrorism, jehadis, Mujahideens, and a few good guys. Not that I didn't sigh impatiently here and there because some parts were too stretched, or because I felt it could have finished before it did. But on the whole, once I got past my insistence on realism and wishing it was shorter, I enjoyed the film. There are no complications in the way it goes about its business: it thoughtfully rewinds a super-quick portion in slo-mo so we can easily reach where Kamal Hassan wants us to get to.

It's one of the few Indian films that actually spends time in building up a lived-in Mujaheedin base: almost a third of the film is shot in the bleached mud huts and caves of what looks like Afghanistan and its neighbouring terrain. (There's also, a sighting of Osama: this must have been done before Kathryn Bigelow turned the dreaded Al Qaeda big man into toast). Vishwaroop injects some realism in the portions dealing with the Big Bad Mujaheedin's (Bose) wife and child.

... contd.

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