Before getting into the movie, have you watched the trailer of "Vishwaroopam"? I thought the trailer was made on-par with international standards. Somehow you know the flick is about terrorism and you can guess that it is going to be a commercial cinema which doesn't overly insults our intelligence. The film-maker Kamal was very heedful there not to give away the full story through trailers. Later some fundamentalists saw the movie -- got everything wrong -- newspapers, magazines and even national news media printed and said everything about the movie. It said, what's the story, about the multifaceted character of Kamal and even discussed all about the 'so-called' controversial scenes. So, basically I have watched the movie knowing fully about the plot and about the muted dialogues. Somehow they --intentionally or unintentionally -- have spoiled all the little twists. Still, the visual language created by Kamal demands to be cherished on-screen.
If you are one of the guy who hasn't followed anything about the controversy or the film's story, then keep it that way and enjoy an excellent cinematic journey. So, keeping aside the story and controversies, "Vishwaroopam", technically, is a great achievement for Tamil/Indian cinema. From Kamal's elusive direction to Sanu Varghese's exemplary cinematography, the film has 'Hollywood standards' written all over it.
Rahul Bose as the venomous villain, Omar stand out. Omar is not a stereotyped villain, shouting angrily at the hero. Even the way he mockingly shoots his son for learning English shows up the character's devilry. Pooja Kumar and Shekar Kapur are perfect for their brief roles. I don't know what's the purpose of Andrea and Nasser in this film. May be they could have a substantial role in the sequel.
Art director Ilayaraja is one of the key element for Kamal's technical team. He has perfectly etched out the Tora Bora caves of Afghan. Varghese' cinematography is top-notch, especially the awesomely framed landscape shots of Afghanistan. Shankar-Eshaan-Loy's background score remains mostly lull in the second-half, but their musical score for the songs are great and never distracts or overpowers the visuals.
Kamal as an director and writer was always under-rated than as an actor. I don't think he will get huge accolades here too, but there are plenty of nice director touches: the child-like young jehadi asking Wasim Kashmiri (Kamal) to push the swing --- an excellent subtext (a tragic poem), where the boy holding his lost innocence and cherishing his last days; the grim-faced Nigerian suicide bomber shaving his body; vibrating mobile in the thickened blood. All these sequences remains as a good example for the subtle direction of Kamal.
The non-linear screenplay lacks a bit of clarity. Kamal has also kind of experimented with the script. It doesn't belong to a particular genre. The movie starts as a mystery, then switches to a docu-drama and finally to a spy-thriller. Commercial movie-lovers may find the afghan part totally boring and long, but passionate movie-goers may find it as one of its kind cinematic experience. Apart from the few glitches in narration and erroneous body-doubles, the ending also seems abrupt. It kind of finished like Tarantino's "Kill Bill". I hope the sequel will provide explanations and some background for the character of Kamal.
The controversy has raised the interests among audiences in TN. You might see families flocking theaters with kids. Seriously, the amount of graphic violence shown in this movie are very high for Indian movie standards and its better to keep the kids away from this movie. Even a message is flashed on-screen before the commencement of the movie regarding violence. Vishwaroopam is a hard-hitting portrayal about the Taliban-terrorists and I thank Kamal for not toning down the violence to get a pathetic "U" certificate.
Kamal Hassan's "Vishwaroopam" -- technically -- sets a bench-mark for Indian cinema, and --narratively -- provokes our thoughts.
Vishwaroopam - IMDb