Vishwaroopam II: Tinkered Tailored Older Spy

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Let’s start with the ending
The thing that struck me about the first Vishwaroopam, a film for which I crossed state borders covertly to watch(much like an espionage operation) was the abruptness in the ending.
It ends with Wisam telling that there is more to the story and what we witnessed is not really ‘the end’, but it did not have the niggling hook that would keep me guessing on what the next part would explore and moreover it did not really help that Kamal himself is delivering this as exposition and not a visually striking image of say a (too use the often used) Kattappa killing Baahubali.
Even looking at the first part in a facile manner which is a spy navigating between complexities and saving the world; the film did provide enough closure.
{Bad guys plans a series of attacks on a city and a team of spies unearth and thwart the operation.}
But Vishwaroopam is not a superficial spy thriller, at least it aims to do more.

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At the core of it all is Wisam Ahmed Kashmiri, a spy who believes in his cause someone who does not treat his license to kill as target practice and is empathetic to those he might have to kill.
Case in point is the friendship between Omar Khureshi, Salim and Wisam which takes up much of the middle of the first movie and these threads need to be addressed.
(not necessary a universal requirement, but more like universal hero’s requirement)
That brings us to Vishwaroopam II, which works more as a companion piece to the first film and not as a sequel; filling in for things that better explain the Indian spy’s motivations.
While the movie does go deeper into things that were throwaways in the first film, especially effective is Wisam’s relationship with his mother.(Waheeda Rehman in a brief role, last seen in Tamil cinema in the 1956 film Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum). Wiz temporarily returns to being Vishwanath in a teary moment dominated by Alzheimer’s (second medical ailment in the franchise after killer cancer in the Roopam I), when the movie is just about casting away the role of the dancer.
Needless to say, Kamal is on top form or is it like displaying all these nuances in half-awake mode now? The other story machinations like how Wisam became Viz are less successful, a London mission before the intermission seems like a very long stop-over before Wisam and team reach the national capital.
I love the spy films in all forms, they lend themselves to the multi dimensional entertainment, the genre comfortably accommodates modern action films like the Bourne movies, cinephile-treasures like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the wink-winks like The Kingsman, send-ups like Paul Feig’s Spy and Oscar favourites like Argo and these are only from recent memory. All of them add to and derive from the construct of the spy thriller.
Vishwaroopam II draws from all the aforementioned sub-genres and naturally the result is not a satisfying mix; for a moment it a mission-driven-race-against-the-ticking -bomb-action-film, a few scenes later it is a musing on the futility of war and even further down the run-time it is an examination of loyalty and nationalism.
There’s isn’t time for all this, boss. Omar waits with one more bomb around the corner. (A bomb around the corner would have a been a better title to this piece, #justsaying)
There simply isn’t time and it shows, the action seems too rushed and the globe-hopping locations which usually adds excitement and romance to these spy films here are just tailored to suit exposition dumps.
The lack of resources too very evident, with the actors limited to performing in moving cars or in an uncharacteristic hotel suite and the number of times toilets conveniently appear in this film only made me think about how constrained the production would have been ; a stark opposite to the expanse of Afghanistan which was reiterated multiple times in the first film.
As though to make up for all the above, there are genuine fun sequences in the film and director Kamal draws me in with a cracker of a title sequence which is a crash course of things past in freeze time played to new version of Nyagabagam Varugiradha.

The story is also in the telling, the nonlinearity is intact and Wisam still gets to sweat about his past. Packed with multiple “woohoo!” moments and timely call-backs to the first film (Namaz panna poriya!). In Kamal’s world even a blood splatter can dissolve into a map.

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But Omar bhai takes precedence over everything and Rahul Bose is absolutely fantastic as the villain who thinks he is the hero and wait a minute, he isn’t even in the movie till the third act.
I loved how the movie returned to the outrageous-ness of Roopam I when he came back on screen giving Wisam something really challenging to work with, because until then Wisam was just putting bureaucrats in place with wit.
Yes yes, I also know that the movie tries to deal with larger issues like how education is important, how war creates more problems than it can solve etc, how nationalism cannot be ‘instilled’ etc but OK this is not the blog site for all that boring stuff.

But this is the kind-off blog which will stand-up and applaud at the inane moment of the villain’s glass eye popping out and rolling on the streets of Delhi. Movies like these are hard to come by and need to be savoured probably with steaming jilebis.

Good luck Wisam! Hat-tip to Munnavar!

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FRS: Bharat Ane Nenu

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So you all know what an FRS is right? right?

-780.9: To us (Team FRS)

We are now doing FRS of Telugu (telungu as we tend to use) films even when having not  one percent knowledge of the language/culture/societal dynamix/audience expectation. That we are doing this in a brazen daylight manner (actually it is night while we type this, but brazen daylight has a nice ring to it) should attract more point cuts.

But we are kind to ourselves.

Also now that we are talking about things that we have no idea about, do we qualify to be called critics?

<Forget the above, we are getting on with it, in quite bit; lil rusty>

[Pause for Cough]

we welcome you to yet another episode of the FRS

[/Pause for Cough]

{we really wanted to use flower brackets, just for representation}

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+5: No Narration, well we know that is a hard thing to find these days 

+12: Hero is very much educated, well we know that is a hard thing to find these days 

-34: Hero is educated abroad in fact he has five degrees,(includes Iberian languages and town planning) but director does not focus on plunging student debt and such realities

-67: Money shot of hero running towards the audience, but is actually running for his convocation thing.

Bharat’s Law  (not Bar-at-law)

 You are not a mainstream Indian hero if you are not late for your own convocation; but of course you reach just in time before your name is announced.

Convenience wins!

+103: When asked what he is going to do with life after being soooo educated, hero says “I don’t know” which proves our primordial hypothesis that education fundamentally is useless. (Yes, we know)

-69.52: This ‘I don’t know’ then morphs into an opening song sung by none other than Farhan Akhtar; name of song raises doubts about where this movie is going.

Actually movie is going to the next scene. (-1 to us, don’t be a wise ass, always)

Next scene: Hero’s father is dead. (yes just like that)

And now director will use the travel back home duration to tell us what we really want to know about Bharat’s father and mother.  Your childhood memories, selectively aided by British Airways.

+45: Whole movie is about the importance of a promise or in other words the importance of keeping up a promise, a lesson that Bharat learns early on from his mother. A promise that he makes as chief minister also leading to make the villains ‘accountable’. Good overall thread, connects to title too.

-1947: Bharat’s father(Supreme Star Sarath) is dead, now we know that he was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh; obviously his son Mahesh Babu becomes the next CM.

Just like how silk sarees are passed across from mother to daughter, the thing that is passed from father to son is just an entire state. 

#DemocracyDemolished but didn’t see any think-pieces about how this film encourages autocratic rule and transfer of power and dynasties etc.

-56.2: Old CM’s family friend and mentor is played by Prakash Raaj which means that all the people in the 31 districts of Telangana and 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh know that he is the villain.

#KuchBhi

<sorry for spoiling, LOL>

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-35.912: Hero now becomes CM means we will be shown 3 hrs of slow motion CM walking with his aides footage with DSP music.

Many economists think that the slowness of the motion has a correlation with the slowness of economic growth.

But like most economists, they are wrong. Because Bharat changes everything in 8 months. Sab Teekh Ho Jayega.

[Pause for Cough]

This makes me wonder, is the real villain of this movie is Prakash Raaj or is he being pup-petted by a collegium of economists, who will not have enough TV air time in a booming economy? 

[/Pause for Cough]

+50: Whenever Kiara Advani is on screen

+51: Whenever Kiara Advani is on screen and wearing yellow dress

#FocusList2018 #VassumathiRox

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Is the above rating sexist? Should we add something about Mahesh babu wearing sunglasses to balance it? Maybe we should

[Insightful Intermission-also potential Facebook caption material]

 

Mahesh Babu wears sun glasses for 79.7% of the film, we interpret this as a big middle finger to all critics who said they could not see any of his expressions on his face in previous films.

This time, he didn’t allow them to see his eyes only.

[/Insightful Intermission-also potential facebook caption material]

-17:  Kiara Advani’s father is a middle class police constable who will surely have the honour of mouthing the dialogue ” after all we are middle class, what can we do?” or some such shixx in a socio-political film

-219: CM”s new research team recruits will consist of (surprise!surprise!) heroine Vasumathi. Reason for selection stated: “they are preparing for civil service exams”

#MeritBasedRecruitment

+10: If you want to be a good CM, the first thing you should focus on is traffic, good advice.

+72: Relentless hero is relentless, Mahesh Babu also has a mass re-entry scene much like the one Indiana Jones has in Raiders of the Lost Ark; should probably add more points for that shot from Slocombe

Keeping Up With The Joneses Rule (or the ONE rule of film making)

Never steal but if you can’t avoid it, always steal from the very best

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-34: Movie is cinematographed by two aces namely Tirru and Ravi K Chandran and pretty to look at but, for a man named Chandran he really does dial up on the sun flares and halos behind the hero.

We get it, guys! Watching this on amazon prime increased the heat on our already oven like laptop

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-400: Movie does not know what to do with heroine that it sends her to her hometown (I mean DEI!!), so going add more pix just for sakes

#BringBackVasumathi

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-52.33: All songs whenever, wherever

+127.9: Hero falls in love with one specific location for fighting scene that he requests all the goons to assemble there. Not seen anything like this!

-127.9: Movie builds up too many things but doesn’t really have the time, but then that’s why hero got second chance to become CM right?

Oh it is almost 2019 already. Intent matters, bro.

<All numbers are incidental and irrelevant, except the data provided by our data analytics team based out of Pune>

Yours sincerely

Team FRS

Subam

Vanakkam

 

 

Top Of The Heap: The Man Who Went Up In Smoke

Some critic has quipped on one of the Beck novels as follows  “pick up the books, block out a week, lie to your boss, stay in bed and finish the series”.

Normally critic-quips are for the show, but this time I tend to agree.

The Martin Beck novels are the written record of “this is what police work looks like” or as we say in this part of the world “Idhu Dan Da Police”.

A far- cry from the constructed problems that has come to dominate the crime novels or the detective story. Inspector Beck from Stokholm Homicide is no Hercule Poirot, but very much a working man(a character in the novel calls police-work a curse); who is met with walls of problem every turn he takes.

Sample this from the words of the inspector himself about this case:” Unpleasant. Very unpleasant. Singularly unpleasant. Damned unpleasant. Blasted unpleasant. Almost painfully so.” The disappearance of a person is not a problem for a gentleman detective to solve but a genuine human tragedy.

In their second outing, authors Sjowall and Wahloo send Martin Beck to Budapest to trace a Swedish journalist Alf Matsson who has literally disappeared into thin air. It is said that this writing couple alternate chapters and sometime even paragraphs between themselves, but I was unable to tell the difference.

Shady characters populate Budapest as Beck tries to make sense of what is happening to this case, while he should be vacationing with family on an isolated novel and he knows that cannot solve this alone. Yes, this is a summer holiday book and somehow I took it up at the right moment.

Even at 200 odd pages, the authors are able to convey a world of detail and observation only proves that words, like bullets only work when used judiciously.

Oh just realized that the title of this book is a wicked pun. So good these Swedes and do check out their Edgar Award winning novel “The Laughing Policeman”

 Top of the heap is an occasional column on books