Why You Should Watch Kamal Haasan’s 2013 Film Vishwaroopam, Film Companion

Vishwaroopam is a 2013 Indian action spy thriller film written, directed and co-produced by Kamal Haasan, who also enacts the lead role. The film has Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah and Jaideep Ahlawat in supporting roles. Filmed simultaneously in two languages: Tamil and Hindi, the film features a soundtrack composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with the Tamil lyrics written by Vairamuthu and Haasan himself, while Javed Akhtar translated them for the Hindi version.

On the surface, Vishwaroopam is a genre film. It’s a spy thriller. It’s the classic good versus evil battle. The spy, i.e. the good guy, foils the plans of the terrorist, i.e. the bad guy. What makes this film different, however, is what I call the Kamal-isms. Even in this very generic structure – it’s what I like to call the big, dumb action movie – writer and director Kamal Haasan infuses a lot of smartness, a lot of texture and meaning, which you don’t usually find in the big, dumb action movies you get from Hollywood. Think of the typical Steven Seagal or Bruce Willis movie. Entertaining? Yes. But textured and meaningful? Not exactly.

The real reason Vishwaroopam is so smart is that it respects the viewer’s intelligence. Ahead of the release of Vishwaroopam 2, I look back at the original and explain why I look forward to catching the sequel.


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