We miss Kamal Haasan, who gave us films like Apoorva Raagangal, 16 Vayathinile, and Nayakan, among many others. There, he immersed himself in many roles, barely allowing us to think about the actor. We considered and followed the characters. But for many years now, he has ignored this, preferring to play himself, Kamal!
Raj Kapoor was a showman, to be sure, but he always tried to connect with the character he was playing; Haasan falls short here. In recent years, he has been unable to shake his celebrity image. He never forgets who he is, and he plays to the galleries of his fan groups. But I have a sneaking hunch that even his most ardent supporters are growing tired of him. Remember, we live in the internet age, and OTT platforms have produced some amazing content.
Vikram, Kamal’s newest adventure, follows a four-year sabbatical. Viswaroopam 2 was his last film, released in 2018, and it was a dreadful attempt. Vikram, written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, is marginally better than Viswaroopam 2.
Vikram is drama, drama, drama all the way, with the filmmaker not just biting off more than he can chew but also displaying his undying adoration for Kamal. Fortunately, we have wonderful performers such as Fahadh Faasil and Vijay Sethupathi, who is being typecast and needs to polish on his line delivery. In Kanagaraj’s thriller, I saw echoes of his Vikram Vedha character, whose high-octane action and loud decibel levels are exhausting after a while. And, at 177 minutes, the film is dreadfully long, and the second half bores us to death.
The beginning holds potential, but Vikram is subsequently wasted. There is the case of a missing drug shipment (Suriya makes a cameo as the crime boss), the intriguing event of masked men killing cops (which reminded me of the 1960s and 1970s Calcutta when young Naxalites did the same, butchering policemen who were considered class enemies) with Karnan’s (Haasan) father falling victim, and the revenge saga.
Amar – Faasil, who plays the head of a police team chasing Sethupathi’s Santhanam, is attempting to solve the crime (a fearsome drug lord). And near the end, we are treated to a twist that is both exciting and perplexing!
Unfortunately, the plot loses much of its zing beyond a certain point, and the element of thrill and mystery is lost in inane dramatics. And Kamal remains Kamal (he acquires a new name and identity during the course of the film), unable to resurrect his once-compelling enchantment. He’s all swag, and his role demands very little acting ability. He is just expected to charge in full force. But what a squandering of a magnificent talent.
There are numerous loopholes and logical problems, but the shots and cuts are wonderful, even rhythmic. Girish Gangadharan’s camerawork is outstanding. I wish the writing had been better and more realistic. The suspension of disbelief is history. It is no longer functional.