Empty front rows at Vishwaroopam
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Every twitch on his face is cheered lustily in the first half hour before the poor audio in the theatre and the international spiel of the spy thriller, including its attempt to look at the human aspect of the culture of violent jihad that originated in Afghanistan during the time of Osama bin Laden, gradually loses its emotional grip on the audience.
The film begins in New York soon after the killing of Osama and flashes back to 2002 when he and the al-Qaeda were running terror camps in Afghanistan.
The film is essentially about good and evil and rarely rises above commercial kitsch despite throwing in dirty bombs, terror funding, terror videos, Taliban thinking, and the RAW in the mix.
The film depicts in an unstated way the casual nature in which religion sits next to violence among terrorist groups. Kamal Haasan has definitely tried to make a statement about the co-habitation of religion and violence in his film but in the end that gets drowned out by the James Bondesque nature of Vishwaroopam.
In one scene where an American police officer questions an Indian woman on her religion, she says she is not Muslim. "My God has four heads," she says. "Then how do you crucify him," asks the police officer. "We don't crucify them we dunk them in the sea," replies the Indian.
There are also attempts at some telling statements — one is on lost childhoods when a young suicide bomber lingers on a swing, and another when a terrorist abruptly leaves his youngest son blindfolded while training him to identify bullets (the young son himself aspires to be an English-speaking doctor against his father's wishes).
"I could not understand the film too well. Maybe the sound should have been better. I came to watch the film because I am a life long Kamal Haasan fan and I always watch his movies in the first week," said Panduranga, a 79-year-old retired government employee came with his wife.
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