2.0 – An Gargantuan size VFX black hole
Star Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Sudhanshu Pandey, Adil Hussain, Anant Mahadevan, Mayilsamy, Kalabhavan Shajohn.
Music Composed by A R Rahman
Cinematography by Nirav Shah
Edited by Anthony
Directed by Shankar
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 149.13 Minutes
It is always a celebration to see two gigantic forces coming to make a spectacle. But Shankar’s spectacles are epic in proportion and their scale is too huge that even Rajni doesn’t feel giant enough to carry them. We need even gigantic force, VFX to comprehensively realize his vision. He does research like no one else in getting the scientific facts right even in a film that will majorly be remembered as Indian Transformers by future generations. Yes, you have to see the last 30 minutes where Shankar vomits gigantic visuals at us as his imagination can go wild and a VFX artist can bring them to life.
This is also the problem with Shankar. He used to be the director who overstuffed his films with plots, plot points and flashback episodes like a true story narrator. Every other innovation introduced used to help the narration than be the major part. He just turned into a person who repeats his stories and characters. For me, the movie felt like Anniyan vs Indian. Somehow, Chitti felt like Ramanujam, 2.0 felt like Remo and 3.0 like Aparichitudu all alter-egos of Vaseegaran.
They are representatives of extremes – Chitti wants everything to be in order, 2.0 looks ways to break the order and be eccentric while 3.0 is an unknown saviour who has the real vigor to befriend birds and do something useful with them. This can also be seen as a contrast to Pakshi Raja, Indian character of this film. An old humiliated person who cares for birds like his children finds it extremely disheartening to live unless he kills everyone responsible. In Indian’s case it was corruption, here it is a consumer who is addicted to a cell phone. And another difference he kills to live and punish, dies to escape, here Indian like Pakshi Raja dies and re-lives to kill and punish. [Don’t worry these are not big spoilers.]
Anyways, there is also a biblical Angel vs Demon kind of undercurrent mythology like in Anniyan, Garuda Puranam. We see the bird being used as a metaphoric good angel for a bad cause. And 2.0 or technology, a bad angel for good cause. Well, God’s agent 3.0 rides on good angels (white pigeons) to end the conflict. We can say the undertones are many but there is a huge mess than a message in his story-telling this time. We get it that he is driven by visuals but he is repeating himself.
He has been the vigilante factory of Indian cinema, trying to produce one after the another since his Gentleman. They all are pushed to a corner to take a weapon and they appear anti-law and anti-establishment, but all for a good cause. Then, we got Mudhalvan (Oke Okkadu) where he really tried to not make his hero a vigilante but a common man. Hence, it remains his best outing in many people’s books. Yet, he wanted to make his vigilante hero, a villain and whom he normally plays as a villain, a hero. For an in-form Shankar, the plot points, side stories, and other importantly unimportant things would have made up for the lack of an emotional core. Here, he executes everything as a one set piece of action.
There are no real stakes except for cell phones and birds. You don’t connect with a villain as he scared you already and you don’t connect with the hero, as he is bland and lifeless. You are just expected to route for Shankar’s vision and Rajni’s presence. Still, both of them have some appealing factors. Shankar seems to be that tree, who is reaching for skies but sacrificing firm roots in the process.
2.0 belongs to Resul Pookutty, Srinivas Mohan, AR Rahman, and all VFX artists, who can show it on their resumes. AR Rahman with Qutub-e-Kriba came up with the sound that haunts and Resul made it Internationally pleasing. Srinivas Mohan and Muthu Raj saw that production is handled well to not seem like technology is killing the story, however, it overbeared it. Anthony should have come up with better edit and Nirav Shah Camera Work is pleasing.
We do get some moments like the shadow of evil growing stronger and stronger before we see its full form and force. A moment where a bird dies in her father’s hand like human who is unable to find any remedy to its plight. We can feel that there is a story there. We can connect to it. But then, moments that try to ape Anniyan (Aparichutudu) just take us away from the movie experience. Visuals don’t make for the story but they are a strong tool for story-telling. The master himself who taught us is failing at that. Seems like a reinvention of Shankar 3.0 is a must where he is not giant as 2.0 but sensible and small yet strong DOT.