PHOTOS & STILLS - GALLERY
EAST MEETS WEST
VISHWAROOPAM: A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT FROM ACROSS ATLANTIC!
Critics and Indian film fans are in love with Vishwaroopam. As a Canadian resident I am fortunate enough to have already seen the film on the big screen – in all its cinematic grandeur. Supporters of the film have made their case for it in many ways. Some argue that it should be seen because of its realism and societal messages, while others say it should be treated as purely an entertainer and technical masterpiece that deserves its screen time. I am in no position to comment on the film as a vehicle for societal change. And although the film is a visual treat and I have grown up amidst North American cinema technology, I cannot fully explain what is it that makes this film so cinematically alluring. But in between cases that it should be seen because of its greater messages and that it should be treated as any other mass film to be lauded for its technical achievements, there lies the case I support - it is simply art worth appreciating. In other words: all I can honestly say I understand about what makes this film so outstanding is Kamal Hassan’s monumental acting performance.
The film is an action-packed drama, but Kamal’s acting alone takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride throughout. One minute you are amused by his light humor, and the next you’re frightened by his cold nature. His chameleon act is so convincing that you must remind yourself not to get too attached because at any minute his character could reveal another layer. Although Kamal Hassan has taken on a triple role as writer, director and lead actor, it is easy to forget the first two titles while watching the film because his acting skills are enough to mystify you throughout. And without revealing any plot I must mention my favorite dialogue of the film, uttered by Kamal himself: “I’m a good actor…I just got into my character”. Of course he did – he is the king of commitment.
In Indian cinema the name Kamal is synonymous with commitment. The man has been acting since he was 6 years old – he is now Doctor, Padma Shri, Ulaga Nayagan Kamal. Despite being a living legend who can do no cinematic-wrong in our eyes – he still gives all his roles 150%. He is a true method actor – portraying characters from practically all walks of life – all with true dedication. There is no role he does not invest the time and effort to prepare for – even if it is just for a mere 5 or 6 minutes of the film to be as authentic as possible.
While doing publicity for Vishwaroopam he revealed that for the classic Apoorva Ragangal he trained in Mridangam for approximately one month, practicing until he had blisters on his fingers, just for those few scenes he had accompanying Srividya’s Carnatic vocalist character. And for the highly publicized and now critically acclaimed Vishwaroopam – despite being a trained dancer all his life and also having directing responsibilities for the film, he underwent Kathak dance training for one and a half months.
His steadfastness is a rare feat. We have always revered him as a phenomenal actor but sometimes we forget that his devotion to constantly bettering himself is what makes him so good. Although Tamil cinema’s current generation of young heroes includes some incredible acting prowess it is doubtful that any one Indian actor will ever approach Dr. Kamal’s mastery of method acting and dedication to a role. Although some of our young heroes occasionally take on complex characters we hardly ever hear of them investing the time to learn a brand new skill or talent outside of the usual level of choreography/stunt training.
So would the film be receiving this much attention if it weren’t for its many controversies and current screening ban in Tamil Nadu? Honestly – yes, it would have received this much attention and praise because of Kamal Hassan’s magnificent artistry and undying commitment to his craft as an actor alone. You may be a cinephile who doesn’t agree with the societal topics the film discusses, or one who does not care for lavish action flicks riddled with technical feats and special effects. But for those film lovers who appreciate seeing an honest and formidable performance that is reason enough to see Vishwaroopam. Setting aside all controversies, this film deserves to be seen because it is arguably the best evidence of Kamal Hassan’s unparalleled acting abilities, and that is something that can undoubtedly be appreciated by people of all backgrounds and walks of life.
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.
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