First, let me talk about a pet peeve. As a sentimental, away-from-home Kolkatan, I hate it when my city and its icons are misappropriated. So, Shankar Sir, I will never forgive you for committing the sacrilege of trying to pass off our most-loved Bhiktoria Memorial as the Chennai Legislative Assembly building. I know your obsession with everything big and showy, but surely Chennai has its own share of grand buildings? Why take away our favourite icon from icon-deprived Kolkatans? You have Rajini Sir, we have Bhiktoria and Howrah Bridge. Please let this be clear!
Now for the film. It’s 2018, and lousy movies are dropping constantly, like loopy Trump tweets. Not a week has gone by without a film or five by superstars that have left us wondering whether our whole life has been a lie. Aamir Khan rendered us an apology for Thugs Of Hindostan. Salman Khan single-handedly destroyed the successful Race franchise. And Rajkumar Hirani re-imagined Sanjay Dutt’s life in the immensely problematic Sanju.
But standard rules don’t apply to Rajini Sir and we know that. 2010’s Robot, which had him playing a scientist with a questionable moral compass, was like walking into some psychedelic dream. Which is basically every Shankar film ever. In Shankar’s world, colours throb in tandem with your migraine. Here, people speak in punchlines and heads are smashed between fingers like bubble-wraps. But most importantly, half of the mammoth budget is spent in ensuring that Rajini Sir’s face looks like it has just been soaked in at least 20 Snapchat filters.
But it would be unfair to call 2.0 a Rajinikanth vanity vehicle. No sire, it is a different beast altogether. It starts off as a cautionary tale and almost hoodwinks you into believing that under all that CGI mesh, is a heart that wants you to talk about environmental issues. But wait, what is this? Did we just see Rajini sir hold a CGI pigeon ransom? “Kuch mat karna, nahi toh main iss kabootar ka sarr kaat doonga!”
Errrm. Let’s contextualise that quote. And trust me, it won’t take a minute.
Akshay Kumar is a bird-loving ornithologist, who spends inordinate amount of time feeding and stalking CGI flamingos and swans. Soon, he discovers that mobile towers are frying the brains of his feathered friends and politicians are frying them all together and eating them with pudina chatni too. Gasp!
The imaginatively-named Pakshirajan (Akshay Kumar) decides to do something about it, but is let down by nasty human beings. He has a fairly reasonable list of demands but hey, who listens to reason these days. A dejected Pakshiji commits suicide by hanging himself from a mobile tower. But the “negative” energy from the mobile tower turns him into a birdman. Now he wants all your mobile phone, and he wants it now!
Only Chitti and his master can stop him. And they need all the help from the CGI team to do so. Thus, one ridiculous SFX fight scene follows another, until it’s drilled in our heads that Chitti is invincible AND has six-pack abs. Sure.
2.0 is so poorly written that you feel sorry for the actors who have to mouth lines like “Iski positive energy Pakshiraja ki negative energy ko neutralise kar degi!” “Har manav ka aura uske marne ke baad atmosphere se mil jata hai!” “Issko ek mobile phone ne khoon kiya hai!”
You get the picture.