The problem with technology is that it can overwhelm the user and metamorphose what is to be a vision into a pedantic exhibit of firecrackers without much substance. Indian Filmmakers are particularly susceptible to getting carried away by the glitter of CGI and action. Most of the CGI ‘infested’ movies which come out India are pulled down by over dependence on technology, where the story gets lost and characters are reduced to cliché-mouthing puppets.
Shankar has been one of the best proponents of technology in India. His Enthiran was a landmark in movie making. With Enthiran and I, Shankar has established himself as someone who can marry technology with plot and deliver a story with substance. Enthiran introduced Superstar Rajnikanth as the debonair Robot who was funny and full of tricks and enthralled the audience with his antics. The movie, made in Tamil and subsequently dubbed in Hindi and Telugu, was a huge success. Rajnikanth’s performance and Shankar’s direction kept the entertainment quotient at a very high level, although the story felt a tad rehashed. In comparison to the first instalment, 2.0 feels slightly overboard. 2.0 is mostly formulaic however the message within the movie is a refreshing change from the ‘high stakes world domination’ balderdash in most Superhero movies.
Rajnikanth plays dual role of the gifted scientist Dr Vaseegaran and Chitti, the Robot. His charisma oozes out of the screens. As an audience you are already in awe of the great performer in front of you. Rajnikanth plays both characters with the assurance of a seasoned star who knows how to captivate the audience. Very few people can play the kind of characters the legend takes up and still gets the biggest cheers. Sitting In a posh sub-urban multiplex, I could see the reverence exuded by his loyal fans. Every flip in the air, every dialogue coming out of the great man was met with claps. And I am talking about Mumbai here. I can only imagine the craze in Tamil Nadu and the southern states where his legend is at a demi-God level.
The welcome change in this movies was the role of Akshay Kumar. Introduced to us as the bad guy in the trailers, Akshay makes a negative role have a lot of heart and conviction. Akshay’s character is driven by benevolence. Post interval there are a few sequences which establish his real intentions and it is heart warming. You end up empathising with his cause and have a dilemma with regards to your allegiance. It’s almost how movie goers felt for Thanos in the Infinity Wars. An all power villain who seems to make some sense. But true to any superhero movie, the script holds up loosely and quickly jumps into climax. The rest of the characters are just spokes to take the wheel forward. Amy Jackson plays a robot in the movie which is kind of funny considering her limited acting talent. May be a sly joke by Shankar? We will never know.
The underlying message of the movie elevates it from an oft-repeated script to something which will touch us, albeit temporarily. the first half is a build-up exercise to the big reveal of the intentions of Pakshi Rajan (Akshay’s character). However, it looses steam once the conflict is established and finally it gallops to the climax which was the epic showdown. Shankar occasionally gets carried away with the technology at his disposal, with the biggest irritant being the introduction credit scenes. The 3D along with the graphics almost pains your eyes. Also, the dialogue writing seems slightly pedestrian, considering the scale of the movie. However, I watched it in Hindi, so will give it a benefit of doubt there.
2.0 is a movie which fails to take off from a premise which held such promise. Not every day does a director take up a issue based superhero movie while decorating it with the most latest of technologies. Shankar has to be commended for that. The series can take off into a successful 3 part, or more franchise, but depends on the legend’s appetite to reinvent himself as 3.0 and more. But are we complaining? No.