A forgettable sequel that even a fine actor like Kamal Haasan couldn’t save
There is a reason why sequels should be banned and Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroop II proves it. Everything that worked for Vishwaroop (2013) — the high-octane action sequences, the technical brilliance, and excellent acting by Kamal Haasan who pulled off three very distinct personalities — were all missing in the sequel. And what was an entertaining spy-action thriller the first time around turned into a dead bore.
The film picks up right after the events of the first film where Haasan’s Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri, a RAW agent who infiltrated the Al Qaida before he took on the identity of a Kathak dancer as a sleeper agent in New York, thwarted Al Qaida leader Omar Qureshi’s terrorist attack by defusing the dirty bomb. Wisam, his wife Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), partner Ashmita (Andrea Jeremiah) and boss Jagannath (Shekhar Kapur) are in the UK on their way to India from New York and get drawn into thwarting a terrorist attack that involves World War II bombs and could rival 9/11.
What could have been a thrilling sequence involving the hunt for and the defusing of the bombs is rushed through without any concern for logic and reasoning, especially the without-mask underwater fisticuffs that ensues between Haasan and the bad guy. There isn’t much in the second half apart from the Omar-Wisam revenge plotline but it still seems as long as the first.
By this time we’ve already had a couple of flashbacks to Vishwaroop, which explains how things came about in the film. If you have watched the first film, these sequences add a lot of weight to what went on, but spending so much of time on it pulls the film down.
If you haven’t, it will leave you even more confused and nonplussed. Haasan is no doubt one of our finest actors, but pulling off the whole Jason Bourne act while romancing a girl half his age is not one of his finest moments for sure, especially without a chance to show off his acting chops like he did in the last one.
A lacklustre script makes things even worse. What kind of a comeback is “Puh-lease shut up”? Also, why is accusing someone of rape funny? And why is such a horrible accusation acceptable to the wife of the man being accused “jokingly” with an explanation that basically goes “it’s not important, will tell you later”.
A supporting cast that does not support in any way adds to the film’s woes. Jeremiah as Ashmita is the worst, and her attempts at being cool and the innuendos about her familiarity with Wisam border on cringeworthy — case in point, the talk around rape.
Pooja Kumar has a substantial role in the film but nothing with impact. I mean, she is a nuclear oncologist with a diving certificate who goes underwater to… do what exactly? She doesn’t find the bomb, she doesn’t defuse it and she doesn’t even have to be there to identify it since there is a British guy in a car doing that on video feed. Shekhar Kapur looks as sleepy and lost as he did in the first film and has to spout unfortunate dialogues like “You can’t die Wisam, you have to be a sleeper agent and I will even get you married” to a seriously injured Haasan.
Waheeda Rehman has a cameo as Wisam’s Alzheimer’s-affected mother that adds a poignant touch to the film. But it is undermined by the serious lack of research that is evident in the fact that her caregiver continuously forces her to remember things and people. Last but not the least, Rahul Bose hams it up even worse as Omar and now he has some serious prosthetics to aid him, but he is not remotely menacing.
The death-defying stunts lack the finesse of the first film and seem somehow tacky, though the violence is very in-your-face with dismembered bodies, close-ups of gunshot wounds, limbs lying in awkward angles. The music is nothing to write home about either.
The film does take a stab at addressing Islamophobia, but the mulk vs mazhab argument seems cursory, especially after Anubhav Sinha’s excellent Mulk last week.
For all its grand scale and big action set-pieces, Vishwaroop II is not exactly the film you would expect or want as one of the last few Kamal Haasan films and we can only hope that the ones that follow wipe out the disappointment of this one.