Fahadh Faasil Outshines Kamal Haasan in This Loose Narrative

We miss the old Kamal Haasan, who gave us marvellous movies like Apoorva Raagangal, 16 Vayathinile and Nayakan among so many others. There he immersed himself in different characters, and he hardly let us think about the actor. We thought about and followed the characters. But for many years now, he has thrown away this, instead choosing to play himself, Kamal!

Raj Kapoor was a showman all right, but he still strove to identify with the character he was essaying; Haasan fails here. He – film after film in recent years – cannot let go of his image as a star. He never lets us forget that he is Kamal, and plays to the galleries of his fan clubs. But I have this sneaking suspicion that even his hardcore admirers are beginning to tire. Remember, we are now in the age of the internet, and OTT platforms have thrown up some excellent stuff.

Kamal’s latest adventure, Vikram, comes after a four-year hiatus. His last outing was Viswaroopam 2, and that was in 2018, an eminently forgettable effort. Writer-director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vikram may be shades better than Viswaroopam 2, but that is not saying much.

Vikram is drama, drama, drama all the way in which the director has not only bitten more than he can chew but exhibits his diehard admiration for Kamal. Fortunately, we have excellent actors like Fahadh Faasil and Vijay Sethupathi, who, though, is getting typecast and still needs to work on his dialogue delivery. I saw shades of his Vikram Vedha character in Kanagaraj’s thriller, whose high octane action and loud decibel levels are enough to get one tired after a point. And the film at 177 minutes is excruciatingly long, and it kills us with boredom in the second half.

The start has a promise, but Vikram is allowed to be wasted later. The movie plays out at many levels – there is the case of a consignment of missing drugs (Suriya has a cameo as the crime boss), and there is the intriguing event of masked men going about killing cops (which reminded me of the 1960s and 1970s Calcutta when young Naxalites did the same, butchering policemen who were considered class enemies) with Karnan’s (Haasan) father falling victim, and there is the revenge saga.

Trying to crack the crime is Amar – Faasil in a brilliant piece of portrayal as the head of a police team chasing Sethupathi’s Santhanam (a fearsome drug lord). And towards the end, we are offered a twist that is both fascinating and foxing!

Sadly, the narrative loses much of its zing after a point, and the element of thrill and mystery gets lost in inane dramatics. And Kamal remains Kamal (in the course of the runtime, he gets another name and identity) failing to get his once-upon-a-time compelling magic back on the track. He is all swag, and admittedly, his part requires very little acting skills. He is just expected to go guns blazing. But what a waste of a great talent. Loopholes and logical discrepancies are aplenty, but the shots and cuts are lovely, even rhythmic. Girish Gangadharan’s camerawork is top class. Wish the writing had been good and realistic. Suspension of disbelief is past, history. It does not work anymore.

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