Director: Shankar Shanmugham
Cast: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Adil Hussain, Sudhanshu Pandey and others
Back in 2016, news of 2.0 did the rounds, with many waiting for its release. It’s another story that it kept getting postponed, with many convinced that it would never release. Cut to mid-2018 and we hear yet another announcement about the film’s release. Despite the grand audio launch in Dubai last year, the numerous posters being released, and after months and months of teasing fans, the sci-fi drama is finally here. But, was it worth the wait?
In a film that is driven by its state-of-the-art 3D effects, 2.0 largely belongs to its technicians. The film is like that of an amusement park ride, where each visual takes you by surprise, where each visual is so meticulously detailed that it’s impossible to fault it. And with the curiosity of a child, it implores you to guess what’s next. It’s evident that the technicians, the deft camera work and the execution was no joke, superseding everything else even if the script is very average.
Sujatha Rangarajan, who worked on the script of Enthiran (prequel to 2.0) died ten years back. His absence in 2.0 is evident with much of the script riddled with loopholes while Enthiran had the advantage of being more novel, with more heart.
Although the film has a good message, like that of bearing birds and environment in mind, it somehow defeats the purpose when the script in itself goes haywire, often resorting to sans-science mumbo jumbo. In fact, there’s a particularly ironic moment when the film shows a brief clip of a youngsters laughing at self-proclaimed spiritual leader Nithyananda’s take on science. Perhaps, it would’ve served better had the makers realised that their script is very close to what the self-proclaimed godman says.
The story revolves around Dr Pakshi Rajan (Akshay Kumar), an ornithologist whose journey with birds traces back to his birth. With cell phone towers mushrooming everywhere, birds die to the point of extinction. This part of the film is where things get real, where the audience is left reminiscing about the times when sparrows would visit homes but now cease to exist. Angered by this, Pakshi goes against mobile phones, technology, people and soon enough, Chitti. Dr Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth) is consulted to save the state and he has his two humanoid robots Chitti and Nila (Amy Jackson) by his side. With millions of phones merging to make one giant bird, would Dr Vaseegaran and his super-intelligent robots save the day?
Akshay Kumar, recognised as a superstar in Bollywood with a status that goes beyond the ‘bankable star’ tag, plays the villain who isn’t really a villain per se. However, while he gets an effective and detailed flashback sequence, it’s rather misleading when his character is reduced to almost a comical character owing to Shankar’s inability to etch it out futther. What’s the purpose in bringing a big star from another industry and giving him a huge role when the logic behind his character wavers, just like the film’s wafer-thin plot?
Amy Jackson, thankfully, does not feature in any awkward romantic numbers in the film and it’s good to see her throughout. But let’s not overlook the fact that she was introduced to the audience as a more dignified domestic help, a humanoid female robot who would do everything and anything but still lacks the prowess that the male robots seem to posses. Gender bias in the robotic world is just as bad as in the human world, one would think.
However, the best part about the film is, despite its exaggeration, 2.0 proves that there can never be anybody else like Rajinikanth. At 68, performing stunts and patiently doing so with kilograms of makeup on is no easy feat. And he still does it with the freshness of a youth. And despite his mass dialogues here and there, his entry is simple, sans the ‘mass’ factor. For that, one has to commend Shankar for not going overboard.
There’s a bit of humour, too, in a film that takes itself too seriously. Some jokes work, some don’t, but all else is briefly permissible when you put on your 3D glasses and marvel at the screen, with effects that that’s quite spellbinding. In Tamil cinema, something like this is one of a kind. Even if it’s force-fitting and the only reason to watch a film whose script seems to be a lost cause for most.