When was the last time when spectacular visual extravaganza comes and hits you from all possible angles constantly and still leaves you exhausted by the end of it? Well, it just happened to me today. Dot.
Shankar, with his vision for the extraordinary, creates a sensory overload on screen as 2.0, but works through the assumption that heavy VFX can more than make up for complete lack of narrative in the process. He chooses an important message to deliver in these digitally mobile times, but doesn’t garnish it enough with engaging content for audience to connect and feel for the cause.
So when a literal war unleashes on the necessity of mobile in our daily lives vs. its ill effects on birds and humans; when superman Rajinikanth in all his multiple forms is taking on the birdman or Pakshirajan (the mighty fifth force in play as the savior of birds); one is only watching the spectacle at the superficial level not rooting for either of them or their moralities. Dot.
To give it where it is due, the VFX unleashing on the screen is beyond spectacular, and hasn’t been ever experienced in any Indian film before. One can easily see the effects the humongous technical spending on the film, and it does create its jaw dropping moments (to be especially savored in 3D large screen formats). The pre-interval sequence & a scene with thousands of white birds ruling the screen particularly make their mark. The much talked about climax sequence is somewhat disappointed though. A lot of tricks performed by Chitti V2.0 were rehashed from Robot with the scale enhanced, and hence the wow factor was compromised. No wonder then that a microbot that calls itself 3.0 actually steels the thunder from its predecessor, its creator and the antagonist to boost the much needed entertainment quotient of the climax. From Shankar’s perspective, that may actually be a smart move, as he has now sowed the seeds of excitement for the next part of the franchise. Dot.
Megastar Rajinikanth has a mega aura of his own. He has become larger than his cinema. His films work just on the basis of his charisma irrespective of the content it offers. 2.0 internalizes this mantra and hence focuses only on his larger than life presence. Rajini has practically no scope to emote or perform here or even sweep the screen with his swagger because all logic, rhyme and reason from the script is thrown out of the window. As a result, Dr Vaseegaran becomes a literal snooze fest & Chitti / 2.0 and his humor feels cringy. His aid Amy Jackson is beyond robotic in her expressions and still doesn’t provide any comic relief. On the other end of the spectrum is Akshay Kumar, who is the only shining star of the film other than Shankar and his VFX team! Akshay is especially brilliant in a controlled and nuanced act (after a long long time) perfectly playing the old ornithologist Dr. Pakahirajan, and humanizes his story and motivations far more effectively than in his other jingoistic patriotic films. Frankly, I would not have minded that backstory to extend and provide more structural support to the narrative. His fifth force avatar of the birdman is menacing in contrast and lends credibility to the negativity of that persona too. I wish his UI was designed better though, and had let that force of nature breathe. Dot.
But all that and more is more of a Shankar problem. He doesn’t want to win this battle of cinema on narrative, content or performances. His strategy is to unleash his creative aura though style, playing his game with astounding visuals, larger than life VFX, and captivating sound design. In the process, he wins a part of the war and loses the other part. Dot.