2.0 is a sci-fi action film which is fascinating, educative and a visual masterpiece where Rajinikanth shines all the way
I knew that this is Director Shankar’s film and I was prepared for the visual extravaganza that his films are known for. 2.0 was no different. Things like how big the budget of the film is and the top-notch VFX shots that the film has to offer were given the wings to fly to spread before the release in the promotional campaigns. So, perhaps I needed to warm myself up before the film portrays the visually impressive scenes. And 2.0 does warm you up. In the very beginning, it gives you a lot to ponder over with a mixture of emotions. While a whole family is engrossed on smartphones, a man is speaking to someone on his phone saying that he is having a “quality time” with his family. Another guy takes a selfie sitting beside a dead man pretending to be sad. And a lady says that the phone has kept her lead the marital life in spite of her husband working in a foreign country. A guy says that he is bored to death without a phone. This is a humorous yet an intelligent sequence of shots that put forth the picture of where the world is heading in this age of mobile phones.
The film does not waste any time and keeps us arrested right from the word go. It depicts the dominance of phones in our lives. But interestingly phones also dominate most of the narrative. A guy is talking on the phone while riding his motorcycle and falls from his vehicle as the phone flies away into nowhere (hidden advice that you shouldn’t be talking on the phone while riding a motorcycle?). I loved Shankar’s vision when a swarm of phones glides along the road and into a bungalow. In another riveting scene, phones slide down from the trees and crawl among the fallen leaves to attack phone company chief (Kaizaad Kotwal). Also, it was terrifying when a truckload of phones go inside a phone seller’s mouth as he explodes into pieces. Even the military tank finds itself helpless before a horde of phones. I could not have imagined a better way of showing destruction and death just using mobile phones. There is no random killing of people. What works in a big way is that it makes us think of real motive behind every single event. We get a feeling that all these events are happening to prove a point as the people who get attacked are phone seller, phone company chief and Telecom Minister (Kalabhavan Shajohn) – Watch out for the transient but brilliant and hilarious performance of Telecom minister and his assistant (Mayilsamy).
2.0 resumes from where it left off in Endhiran (yes you must watch it to understand the references in 2.0). So obviously, there are elements of Endhiran in this film. There is a phone call from Sana (Aishwarya Rai) – Dr. Vaseegaran’s (Scientist Rajinikanth) love interest – we do not actually see her but just hear the voice. Chitti, humanoid version of Rajinikanth, has human-like feelings which force him not to shoot Dr. Vaseegaran. 2.0, which is both the title of the movie and the name of the evil version of Chitti, uses a cluster of guns to shoot, becomes a magnet to attract objects made of iron, forms a spherical figure shooting all around and even says that iconic dialogue (meh..) in his villainous tone. There are references to Shankar’s other films as well. When evil Chitti says that it is always a great feeling to die and then come back alive, it reminds us of Sivaji: The Boss. There is also an Anniyan-esque scene involving Dr. Vaseegaran and Pakshirajan (Akshay Kumar) where Chitti gets ripped off.
Everything about Akshay Kumar as Pakshirajan and the story revolving around him was so wonderful to watch. We feel the calm and composed nature of his character as he explains his love for birds. It is a pleasant sight when we see the birds perched on his stretched arms or when a bird is building a nest over the ceiling fan. As the pullinangal song enthrals us in the background (Music director A.R. Rahman is at his best), a bird nods its head to the rhythm of the song. It is so moving to hear him talk about the harsh realities of cell phone signals that are killing birds. I was driven by the emotional and poignant display in the movie when a dead baby bird falls in the hands of Pakshirajan. And then there is this Pakshirajan, with his face tilted and wearing a sly grin, looking fierce in the avatar of ‘birdman’ (as evil Chitti calls him) as a rap song plays in the background that enhances the style and ferociousness.
Amy Jackson as Nila is a nice addition to this film. She is a humanoid, has pre-programmed feelings and assists Dr. Vaseegaran. Although she does not have much to do with the narrative, she never looks out of place. Her romance portions look funny and it works. Like when Dr. Vaseegaran proposes to get Chitti back on road, it brings a wide smile on Nila. She even says dialogues like vada poche! (a leaf taken out of Comedian Vadivelu’s sidesplitting one-liners) and naalu peruku nalladhuna edhuvum thappilla (famous scene from the movie Nayagan). It is comedic when the Irumbile oru idhaiyam song (from Endhiran) plays in the background as she romantically looks at Chitti.
It was hugely satisfying to watch Rajinikanth pull off a stunner as he performed with aplomb. We see him taking different avatars from small to giant. He literally lived in those characters. As Dr. Vaseegaran, there is every bit of scientist in him as he uses a visualisation technology to explain things. He does not try to run fast, jump high or fight with someone. As a matter of fact, Nila saves him from a falling tower and is even helped to climb and jump off a wall. For all the action, there is Chitti. Chitti continues his superhuman stuff from where he left off in Endhiran. But the evil Chitti stole the show with his villainous yet comical display. I laughed out loud when evil Chitti kept on imitating a bird. Deservingly, he had a Superstar Rajni title card that appeared magnificently before the start of the movie in 3D.
There were a few areas that did not work for me. Dhinendra Bohra (Sudhanshu Pandey) did not really grow into a threatening character. He did not seem to have much relevance other than being the son of Bohra (Danny Denzongpa) who played the antagonistic role in Endhiran. Pakshirajan turning into a giant bird did not scatter my wits. There was a feeling of familiarity as Dr. Vaseegaran pitches for Chitti’s return. That truck scene where the giant bird is being controlled did not look menacing and seemed draggy. And it seems like movies with superheroic stories can’t be made without demolishing the building with people in it or without hurting the people in general. The spherical figure, formed by evil Chitti, runs in and around the stadium shooting everywhere all the while with people running helter-skelter. Also, the fight sequence between giant versions of evil Chitti and Pakshirajan did not quite work for me. It was annoying to see few lip-sync fails as some actors including Akshay Kumar were actually speaking in Hindi.
I liked how the dialogues (B. Jeyamohan’s Tamil dialogues are phenomenal) were intelligently capturing the mood of the film. Pakshirajan rips off the legs of Chitti and says, “Your call (kaal) is disconnected”. He attacks Dhinendra Bohra saying that he is also a “subscriber”. The movie educates us about the relevance of using technology in an optimal way without causing any damage to the other lives on earth (birds in this case). But it never feels preachy. It is a movie which is to be lived, loved and experienced. There is a scene in the movie where a man tells that he started enjoying life more without the phones but still comes out to buy a new one. That perfectly puts the current scenario as neither can we stay without it forever nor can we keep using it all the time. It did trigger me to look at the world with a different viewpoint and I hope it encourages more people to understand that this world is not only for humans. 2.0 is a sci-fi action film which is fascinating, educative and a visual masterpiece where Rajinikanth shines all the way. As Dr. Vaseegaran suggests, I will at least keep a pot of water for the birds in the extreme summer. Dot.