Shankar’s story is pedestrian; but VFX, Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar carry the day

Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0 is a non-stop glitzy extravagant entertainer, with some terrific VFX and 3D effects. The Shankar-directed sci-fi fantasy thriller is an out and out Rajinikanth show. He is a one-man entertainment troupe with his unique style and swag, as he plays a quadruple (four) role.

Rajinikanth holds the film together and is there virtually in every scene, either as scientist Vaseegaran, evil Chitty, good Chitty (2.0 version) and Kutty Chitti (3.0 version). Akshay Kumar, in comparison, makes his first appearance as the mighty Pakshi Raja (Bird King) at interval point. He has more screen space in the second half, playing the antagonist and perfect foil to Rajinikanth’s superhero.

On the downside, story and treatment are pedestrian. There are no surprises or twists that one usually associates with a Shankar mass entertainer. In fact, it is just a direct sequel to the director’s Enthiran (Robot), though Shankar has denied it. He has even rehashed scenes from his earlier films Anniyan and Shivaji.

However, the real star of the film is its VFX and special effects. The intention of the film seems to be only to make an Indian equivalent of a Hollywood super-hero sci-fi action fantasy thriller. To a large extent, Shankar, his VFX supervisor Srinivas Mohan, sound specialist Resul Pookutty, cinematographer Nirav Shah and editor Antony have succeeded to push the envelope. Almost 50 percent of the film has stunning visual effects and has been shot using 3D format. It must be watched in 3D for a satisfying viewing experience.

The story begins where Enthiran ended. Dr Vaseegaran, a respected scientist, has temporarily disabled the evil Chitty and has a new secretary in a friendly humanoid robot Nila (Amy Jackson). The film begins with an old man hanging from a mobile tower in a deserted field. Soon, the folks in the city find that their cell phones fly out of their hands and disappear into thin air. Mobile phone towers are destroyed by some “unknown occurrences.” As chaos and fear envelope the city, the government calls in Vaseegaran to investigate the mysterious happenings. And soon, a giant bird, with feathers made up of mobile phones, attacks the city and the army cannot stop it. Vaseegaran is requested by a minister to bring back Chitti, the dismantled advanced robot, to counter the “fifth force.”

Vaseegaran is aided by his robots – Chitti 2.0 version and the retrieved old Chitti. They, along with Nila, find out that there is an evil man Pakshi Raja (Akshay Kumar), who is out to wreak havoc on humanity. In a flashback, it is revealed that Pakshi Raja was the old man who committed suicide on the mobile tower. He was an ornithologist who loved sparrows and other rare birds, which used to migrate thousands of miles during winter to visit Vedanthangal bird sanctuary. But owing to large number of mobile towers placed even in marshlands and fields, the birds died because of radiation. Pakshi Raja wants vigilante justice against the people who use and control mobile phones and towers. The rest of the film revolves around how Vaseegaran and his team come to the rescue of the people, just like in any typical superhero Hollywood film.

It is a typical Shankar story about how the system (here, technology) is harsh on an honest nice guy, who wants to take revenge through vigilantism. In the process, a social message is also embedded in the narrative, as characters are made to say that people spend more time with their mobiles than with their loved ones.