A poster from 2.0 | Facebook
A poster from 2.0 | Facebook
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Akshay Kumar, the bird-loving villain and Rajinikanth, the bird-disrespecting hero fight it out in this 3D film. 

Rajinikanth fever has gripped the nation once again, and the virus spreading it this time is the 3D film 2.0. The sci-fi action drama directed by S. Shankar was made with a budget of Rs 500 crore. But not even 2.0’s dazzling CGI and a triple role by the Thalaiva can save its barely existent plot. The story is about a bird-loving villain and a bird-disrespecting robot fighting each other over the fate of human beings and their obsession with cellphones – yes, the movie is as strange as it sounds.

The film kicks off with people’s phones being pulled away from them (whether they are at home or mid-conversation in public) and vanishing into the sky. A clueless government goes to robotics scientist Dr Vaseegaran for help (played by Rajinikanth). Rajinikanth’s character Dr Vaseegaran was first seen eight years ago in Enthiran – and the actor successfully revives him again sans a single wrinkle.

Dr Vaseegaran wears plastic dentures and speaks cringe-worthy dialogues. Actress Amy Jackson stands beside him as a humanoid-robot with an animatronic voice – and despite all her artificial intelligence, she, like most actresses, is relegated to a docile secondary role.

Also read: How long can Rajinikanth stop time with 2.0 special effects?

Akshay Kumar is the real hook of the film. He plays an avian lover, Pakshi Rajan, who gets angry with telecoms breaching TRAI’s permissible frequency and indirectly killing the birds he so loves. He gives up his life after his feathered friends lie cold and turns into a vengeful Crow-man. He goes onto educate the audience about how birds are fast disappearing from Indian cities and starts using the confiscated cellphones as weapons.

For a change, we have an animal-loving villain and an avian-averse saviour. But consider it a blessing that the many pigeons in Delhi’s Jama Masjid have been spared the horror of watching a Rajinikanth film do this to their kind.

One of the biggest attractions of this film is the 3D craftsmanship. Needless to say, the first half of the film will make you feel that the film’s budget and your 3D ticket price are justified. Much like any Shankar film, the onscreen spectacle is the nucleus of this film – from thousands of cellphone screens lighting up, crawling like ants, forming a highway floor, taking over bedroom walls and then engulfing people alive. The everyday microchip miracle does it all.

Logic goes for a toss in this magnum opus, but then again a Shankar production is not paisa vasool till that happens.

Dr Vaseegaran’s solution to neutralise Pakshi Rajan’s ‘negative energy’ will make sure everything your science teacher taught you crumbles into a million pieces, just like the cellphones throughout the movie. We will spare you a headache and not go into that.

A Ctrl+F search of the film script will probably reveal that the word ‘cellphone’ has been used at least a hundred times in the film, to the extent that an altercation between Pakshi Rajan and a ruling politician feels like a school essay on the boons and bane of cellphones. However, despite the elaborate explanation about the harmful effects of cellphone usage, Dr Vaseegaran kindly tells us that a little bowl of water outside our homes and controlled use of cellphones will help us save birds.

Do not expect much acting in this film – because most of the characters are either robots or act like them. For Rajinikanth, his heavy makeup does the task; for Akshay Kumar, his CGI-induced cellphone screen face and feather eyebrows do the trick. As for Amy Jackson, well, she didn’t have any meaningful role to start with.

In a Shankar film, you can never go overboard, but for the audience, seeing Rajinikanth as Dr Vaseegaran, Chitti, Chitti 2.0 and Chitti mini-bot is overbearing. “Bhaagna mere software mein nahin hain,” says Rajini the robot, we can say the same for our cognitive capabilities after this movie.

The film 2.0 comes at a crucial time in superstar Rajinikanth’s career. This is his first film post his announcement to join politics and after Kaala, his other release this year that made Thalaiva see the ugly side of the box office after a long time. One can only wonder why Rajinikanth continues to come back to the big screen with so much CGI and makeup. In retrospect, if Amitabh Bachchan can still wield a sword for a few crores in a tasteless film like Thugs of Hindostan, so can 3D Rajini.

Also read: Kaala has mercilessly trounced Hindutva and Rajinikanth’s so-called ‘spiritual politics’

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