I remember watching both Kabali and Kaala with huge expectations, and I felt they were quite underwhelming for a star like Rajinikanth. I was saying this from a movie-goer’s point of view. I couldn’t come to terms with Ranjith ‘humanising’ Superstar’s character in Kaala. As for Kabali, the film somehow didn’t live up to its hype and pre-release buzz. But 2.0 is a killer – a typical ‘Shankar’s product’. You can watch it for ‘thalaivar’, of course.
2.0 has no ‘mass’ introduction scene or a song sequence. Scientist Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth) comes out of the lab and has a casual interaction with a bunch of college students, accompanied by a domestic robot Nila (Amy Jackson). On and off, he talks to his girlfriend Sana (Aishwarya Rai) on the phone. He offers a “phone kiss” to her and suddenly, the mobile phone disappears. You know what? Amy cracks a joke right there: Oh, ‘flying’ kiss?
Similarly, one day, all mobile phones in the city goes missing. You are being shown how phones fly in the air, and nobody knows why. For instance, a group of students think, “Idhu kandipa namba principal velaiya irukum!” Everyone throngs to the police station to file complaints. You hear random characters speak, “I have my ATM pin number and related passwords stored. Now everything’s gone.” “Bathroom-ku kooda naan phone eduthutu poven”. Err. Most of us can relate to this, right? Meanwhile, another one says, “I don’t even remember my mom’s landline number.”
Shankar establishes details even into each of these trivial characters, that reflect the reality – there is no life without a mobile phone. So, Vaseegaran figures it could perhaps be some negative energy (the fifth force) and tries to reassemble his pet robot, Chitti. Simply put, the story, as the tagline suggested, tells a message — ‘the world isn’t only for human beings’.
Shankar has raised the bar in filmmaking in terms of visualisation, grandeur, and every frame of his fascinates you as a viewer. Be it those mobile phones rising like a Tsunami wave or those giant mobile towers. He’s a director with an amazing vision. As an audience, you can witness it. 2.0 has been shot entirely in 3D, and this is the first Indian film to do so.
The first half has no songs, but watch out for Akshay Kumar’s introduction scene in the second one. It’s top-notch visual work, which will make you wonder if 2.0 is a Rajinikanth film or an Akshay Kumar film.
The second half takes you to flashback portions about Pakshi Rajan’s (Akshay Kumar) life, his interest for birds and how it all started. The hospital sequences, involving baby boy Pakshi, reminded me of a similar scene in Nanban. I would have loved to see more of Pakshi Rajan. To be honest, the film didn’t need Akshay Kumar. Any actor could have done his role. But I understand why the makers had roped him in — the Pan-Indian presence, all that.
Being a fantastic actor, Akshay doesn’t get the screen space he deserved, yet he scores high as the ‘bird man’. He is emotional and empathetic as an ornithologist-activist. Pakshi Rajan’s body language is akin to Vikram’s character in Anniyan and Kamal Haasan’s character in Indian. If you close your eyes and listen to Pakshi Rajan speak, you could only see Senapathi. Or, at least, I could. There is also this scene where two personalities mix like how it happened in Anniyan. 2.0 takes you back to Shankar’s previous films — Gentleman, Indian, Mudhalvan and Anniyan — even ‘I’ to an extent.
The major highlight of 2.0 is the final half-an-hour portion shot in a stadium set-up. Again, when Pakshi enters the stadium, you get reminded of Anniyan Vikram’s entry. Root for the following face-off scenes between the giant Chitti and giant Pakshi. They are superbly shot. Also, not to forget, the miniature Chitti — 3.0. It is incredible how a 65-year-old Rajinikanth has pulled off everything so effortlessly, including the most-striking dialogue —“Indha seththhu pozhaikardhe thani sugam!” I am not a fan of the Superstar, but I thoroughly enjoyed all his four avatars — Dr Vaseegaran, evil Chitti, good Chitti and 3.0 Chitti.
Writing and dialogues do work in favour of the film. Interestingly, Amy Jackson gets to mouth popular lines including, “vada pochchey”, “naalu perku nalladhuna edhuvum thappu illa” and so on. Trust me, it works, though you may dismiss it off saying, “Oh, semma mokka.”
There are scenes featuring Rajinikanth where he takes a dig at other actors claiming to be “number one”. You should see the way he says, “Indha number 1… number 2-laam paapa vilayattu. I’m the Super One!” with his tailor-made expression. It was terrific.
Supporting characters — Sudhanshu Pandey and Adil Hussain didn’t have much to do in the film, though they performed what was given to them well. Besides, I would say 2.0 is largely a technicians’ film. Shankar has packed the film blending different genres — comedy, action, romance, and drama in one film. What put me off was the lip sync. There was some sort of disconnect when Akshay Kumar emotes the scenes. But I knew this would happen; so no complaints. Hey, again, who cares? There’s Rajinikanth who makes 2.0, a memorable experience. After all, you don’t expect ‘logic’ in his films. Do you?