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There is no original thought in Kamal Haasan’s film on post-9/11 extremism
CAST Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose, Andrea Jeremiah | DIRECTOR Kamal Haasan

Following the politics of this film’s release has been infinitely more interesting than watching it. After being numbed by more than two-and-a-half unrelenting hours of Afghanistan and Al-Qaida, New York and the FBI, Kamal Haasan version 1 and version 2, you are ready to call it quits. The movie is a docudrama on post-9/11 extremism and tells you nothing you don’t already know from a decade of media coverage on the geopolitics of terror.

The film doesn’t give you a break. Even the lightness and humour offered in Vishwaroopam is forced. Haasan plays a married Kathak teacher called Vishwanath, who prances around Manhattan. It turns out that Nirupama (Pooja Kumar) has married him for his green card and he has married her as a cover for his espionage activities. All Kathak teachers, the cliché must go, are limp wrist pansies, and so we have this farcical marriage that quickly exhausts itself of amusement possibilities.

Then Haasan does a Clark Kent and turns into double agent Wiz (Wizam Ahmad Kashmiri). Wiz is a desi patriot who spent quality time with the Taliban and got acquainted with a jihadi called Omar (Rahul Bose). The war in Afghanistan has moved on since, and Omar is in New York planning a ‘dirty bomb’ attack in the city.

Since the jihadi lifestyle takes up much of the movie, music and romance and jokes are out. Whipping, beheading and suicide bombing are in. The film is written, directed and produced by a superstar with the wherewithal to take himself seriously as a political thinker, but one who clearly doesn’t have the objectivity and critical thinking to be an original theorist.

Haasan’s film is sincere, in the sense that he believes in it, but he has done nothing but recycled material on the War on Terror. This is a very disappointing film.