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Movie Review: 2.0

Banners: Lyca Productions, Dharma Productions, AA Films

Producer: Subaskaran

Director: Shankar

Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Adil Hussain, Sudhanshu Pandey

Writer: Shankar

Music: AR Rahman

What is that one thing we cannot live without today? It’s no longer just food, water and shelter. We also need that little gadget called the ‘mobile phone’. One single day without it makes us feel incomplete and that is the concept around which 2.0 is set.

The film starts with an old man committing suicide by hanging himself from a cell phone tower. A flock of chirping birds surrounds his lifeless body. Cut to Dr Vaseegaran and his humanoid Nila. A group of students come to meet him and the discussion automatically veers towards Chitti and if he would ever return. Vaseegaran says that when the need arises, Chitti will be back. And the need does arise sooner than he would have anticipated.

Cellphones start flying out of people’s hands and before you know it, every single mobile phone is lost. College students, corporate executives, businesspersons, politicians… no one is spared, not even Dr Vaseegaran. The police headquarter is swamped with people who want their cellphones back. Two deaths – one of a mobile phone dealer and another of a telecom tycoon – force the government to include Dr Vaseegaran in the investigation. Vaseegaran finds the missing cellphones and discovers that there is an unseen force behind this chaos. During the meeting with the Home Minister, he suggests that Chitti be brought back to fight this force.

But there is opposition to his idea, especially from Dhinendra, son of Vaseegaran’s former colleague and nemesis, Dr Bohra. Finally, the military is brought in to combat this threat. But it all proves futile. With no other option left, Chitti is brought back. Along with Vaseegaran and Nila, Chitti finds the man behind the madness. He is an ornithologist, Pakshirajan. A lover of birds, he is upset and disturbed when rising radiation levels due to cellphones and cellphone towers affect bird life. He decides to use the same technology on humans and give them a taste of their own medicine. This starts the ultimate war with Pakshirajan on one side and Vaseegaran, Chitti and the various versions of Chitti on the other.

The entire hype around 2.0 has been about the 3D and VFX used in the film, and all of it is justified when you watch the film. Shankar has gone flat out to make 2.0 the ultimate visual spectacle. The film’s larger-than-life canvas does not disappoint even once. The use of cellphones is innovative and there are some standout scenes in the film. Cellphones lighting up an entire highway or climbing tree trunks… it is a spectacle that can be appreciated only on the big screen. Other standout scenes involve birds. It is an amazing cinematic experience.

Technically 2.0 is superb. Whether Resul Pookutty’s sound design, Anthony’s editing or Nirav Shah’s camera work, every frame is top class. Unlike earlier Shankar movies, the songs take a backseat. AR Rahman’s music is used only in bits and pieces and in the background. This works in the film’s favour. The highlight of the film is the final 30 minutes, and do not miss the post-end credit scenes.

Among all these positives, the only thing that does not work in the film’s favour is the storyline. The concept is interesting and, like his earlier films, Shankar has a socially relevant cause at the heart of the story. But the film ends up being more about the visuals and less about the story. The emotional connect that Robot had is missing in 2.0. Sure, there are some moments that tug at the heart, but there aren’t enough. Also, there are some characters like that of Dhinendra that could have been fleshed out better.

Performance-wise, this is an out-and-out Rajinikanth film and for Rajinikanth fans. The actor may have aged, but his spirit is as young as ever. As Vaseegaran and Chitti, he may not be as dynamic as he was in Robot but the moment he is Chitti 2.0, he turns on the charm. It is a treat to watch him on screen having fun with the character.

The Akshay Kumar we are used to seeing is hidden behind layers of make-up but the actor manages to make a mark. He is the ornithologist Pakshirajan. The prosthetics must have been a physically challenging ordeal but he makes it look easy. Amy Jackson as Nila has nothing much to do other than be the robot and she manages that adequately. The rest of the cast, which includes Adil Hussain as the Home Minister and Sudhanshu Pandey as Dhinendra, do not have a lot of screen time and they play their parts well.

Verdict: Worth a watch but only for the visual effects.

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