10 Years of VTV: Celebrating the fateful match made in hell

What if an intensely-flawed couple – both partners stubborn in their respective stands – end up in a vicious, labyrinthine cycle of bonding and bitterness?

When Karthik first sees Jessie, the song in his head – and probably, taking a cue, his heart too – skips a beat.

He’s instinctively drawn towards her. Is it something about her smartness? Is it her aura? Or is it about her enticing imperfections? But, he, most certainly, feels that ‘something’ – a strange, ineffable urge to woo her – that drives him mad.

Karthik knows he needs Jessie to complete that missing piece of jaw-dropping art, which lies conceptualized within the barbed confines of his soul.

You get it? It’s the whimsical calling of a creator, trying to escape, at least, a part of his unexciting routine.

Jessie, on the other hand, is a deadly bundle of contradictions. Born in a conservative Malayali Christian family, she is what you could call a staggering mix of conservatism and free-spirit.

One moment, you think you have deciphered her. But the very next second, you know it’s utterly futile.

Jessie feels more shock than surprise, when she learns that the boy down-stairs is smitten by her. Understandably, you could say. But, how much of that is a conditioned response?

Does she like him? If yes, why doesn’t she want him to know that? Is she battling her own demons?

While Karthik treats love like an over-enthusiastic debutant director trying to sculpt his first film – reckless, dreamy and eager to make a difference, Jessie treats it like a newly- independent college fresher, being forced to smoke a joint – curious, resistant and apprehensive.

While Karthik is someone, who relies on his heart for making life-altering decisions, Jessie is the kind, who would pause for an extra moment and attempt to listen to reason. Or, what she perceives as reason.

What if these two decide to be ‘friends’ for a while?

Well.. a train journey is all it takes for them to realize the lost cause.

All subsequent conflict happens within their heads, with Jessie, in particular, going into exasperatingly indecisive pangs.

There are times that make us wonder if her mind is an engine or an exhaust. Is she the master of her thoughts or are her fears the result of deep thinking she’s only loosely aware of? There is a third possibility, of course, that is both, and it depends on her mood at the time.

One moment, she seems stubbornly in love, and the very next, she appears to be a very different person, torn between her dreams and reality.

From “How much of her erstwhile ties would she risk for Karthik?” through “Would she risk anything for Karthik at all?” to reach “Would she prefer to risk Karthik for her family?”, Jessie’s capriciousness messes with our heads.

Is her biggest flaw that of self-deception? Or is it her confounding trait?

Karthik, contrarily, seems to be at the other end of the emotional hurricane. On the surface, he’s joking and light, but he wants to pull her into his vortex and, with each jibe, Jessie can feel the winds clipping her core. And as tempting as it is to jump in – to take up the thrill of the challenge – the ground reality keeps pulling her back.

When you almost dismiss her as weak-hearted, she jolts you by calling off the marriage she’s forced into, right at the altar.

She continues her courtship with Karthik, and her belief in their relationship slowly strengthens. Every time he kisses her, she feels the world stop and disappear, leaving just the two of them to wander the earth. Every time, he holds her face between his hands, she senses her knots being untied, one at a time.

But again, just when they seem to be settling into a zone, her enthusiasm leaves her like an ink stain disappearing into blotting paper.

She’s broken when she hears her father say “Karthik can happen only over my dead body.” She probably wants to shout aloud, put up a tantrum and beat her hands on the ground like a sulking toddler. She wants to vent, let it out, but in the process, is she being hurtful?

You know, it’s just so easy to be impulsive at that moment, but the damage is done. You know you have been stupid. But, you can’t undo it. You can’t unsay things, take it back. It’s cruel.

But, why does Jessie behave the way she does?

Is she oxymoronically caged in a situation, where she derives her autonomy from her close bonds, so much so that the slightest imagination of any autonomy outside of those ties, makes her panic?

After a while, as the proceedings get muddled with endlessly expanding ripples, everything goes painfully kaput.

This whole thing might have played out as a beautiful, bittersweet disaster, but, isn’t that the very essence of love, in all its glory?

The Vishwaroopam Transformation: An ode to one of Tamil cinema’s best-written action-blocks, ever

If the detective that Nirupama had hired to tail Wiz hadn’t followed his target to the damned warehouse, the diary with information about the couple wouldn’t have ended up with Farukh, and Wiz, accompanied by Nirupama, wouldn’t have found himself inside the dingy confines of the deserted building, that fateful day.

But then, that’s how the unusual ways of destiny work.

One day, you think you are all sorted, and boom… the next day, you are living life on the edge, staring at the likely possibility of your entire gamut of backbreaking work, crumbling all around.

That’s probably the thing about fate. At times, it takes pleasure in pitting the most inimical of adversaries against each other – almost out of thin air – when they haven’t been exactly contemplating a showdown. At least, not yet.

And when that happens, it’s your primal instincts that could make all the difference.

When we first see Wiz and Nirupama being handcuffed and led into the warehouse, the former looks every bit the harmless and submissive Khatak teacher that he claims to be. Nirupama is puzzled; first at the ongoing events, and more so, at her newest discovery.

Why would her husband, from a marriage of convenience, fake a Hindu name? A motive keeps eluding her.

Farukh, on the other hand, doesn’t have the patience for the verbal niceties. Bam. He lunges forward and bare-knuckles Wiz right on the face.

Plop. A drop of water from a leaking tap nearby makes it way down to the bucket.

Wiz screams. You see that he’s in sharp pain. But, the feminine glances and the annoying winks stay, as he speaks out in soft muffles.

“Taufiq”.

It’s almost as if this man, who had imbibed the hyper-expressions of Kathak for almost a decade, knows not to react in any other way.

But, are they, in essence, yet another variant of his shrewd subversions?

When Nirupama tries to protest, she gets smacked on her face. Wiz scowls and looks away.

Now, you start feeling a little queasy. What would make him show an inkling of defiance on his face?

Savage taunts on the wailing man’s machismo follow. Darn…

Wiz still manages to hold on to the graceful nods and the half-blushing eye-rolls.

“Speak up or die. Now!” thunders Farukh.

“Nasser, it is. Sorry to disappoint you. Taufiq is indeed a sweet name. But, I am Nasser,” Wiz smiles, shifting gears from his whining mode, in a micro-moment.

The man comes off almost borderline masochistic now. Damn, in a subsequent facepalm move, he even pleads not to be untied.

Farukh has had enough. Thuddddd. He lands a fiery kick on the man’s crotch.

Ouchhhhh. That must have hurt. Wiz howls in agony, but resorts to some random circumlocution about marriage, virility and what not!

You know the man is trying hard. Are the cheer and the coy demeanour camouflages to the mounting rage?

The sobs continue. Wiz even requests a napkin for his running nose, steadily upping the sympathy quotient. Or, is it repugnance that he’s going for? Whatever, it’s working like a charm.

Farukh’s boss wants a photo of the man clicked, and sent to him. Farukh pulls out his phone and walks towards Wiz. Is the trap closing down?

The phone gets accidentally knocked onto the floor by Wiz. Or, does it?

Farukh is infuriated. He comes down with another solid blow on Wiz’s face, his face burning in indignation and terror. Before Wiz could even register the assault, however, another body shot, this one to his crotch, sends fresh ripples of pain through his gooch.

Wiz moans, but, still manages to sneak in a sly joke. Oh boy, how can someone be this resilient?

Farukh gets all mad now. He lunges forward and kicks the side of Wiz’s forehead, the soft spot high on the temple. with his boots. Whack. He then slaps his right palm down on the whimpering man’s face, shattering his nose.

Wiz staggers back. Blood drips warmly down his cheek. His left eye wouldn’t focus. For the first time in the last few minutes, he seems to be in real misery.

But, where does reality end, and where does the bloody act start? Or, has the thin line been sprucely smudged?

Wiz stumbles forward in resignation, his chest hitting the floor with a disquieting rustle.

As the henchmen pick him up, Farukh lands one more brutal punch on his face, almost fracturing his own right knuckles in the process. Fuming, he calls for a roll of bandage.

As Wiz is manhandled into looking at the camera, what must be running in his mind? A super-frustrating hot-rush?

What about his primal instinct to lash out in self-defense, leave alone in ebullition? What is he even holding on to?

Is he buying his time? Is he putting the cluttered pieces together inside his head?

Meanwhile, Farukh gets cryptic orders to shoot the mystery man at his knees, and keep him alive, till the boss arrives.

“Oh man.. Farukh what have you chanced upon? And, why are there explicit instructions not to engage with an effeminate dancer, who lies sprawled on the floor, bruised, bleeding, and begging?”

The questions only loom larger.

Just as Farukh leaves to tend to his injured fingers, Wiz pleads to be allowed to pray, one final time. “Musalmaan to musalmaan, an earnest request for a last wish,” he beseeches, convincing Farukh to get him uncuffed.

He then bends down, still on his knees, and raises both his arms in all piety, eyes closed, palms folded and facing the ceiling.

Rabbana atina fid-dunya
Hasanatan wa fil ‘akhirati
Hasanatan waqina ‘adhaban-nar…

He recites, in all devoutness.

Yet another waterdrop nosedives into the bucket.

And then, it happens.

In a split second, Wiz prostrates on the floor, and lashes back with his right foot, tripping the first henchman down. He then grinds the man’s face into the dirt of the floor with his boot, with the seething indifference of a war veteran.

The move is so stealthy and sudden, that it bears striking resemblances that of a crouching tiger, perhaps the only animal in the jungle, whose attack does not significantly involve defense.

He then bolts forward, and swoosh… he does a lightning-fast double flip in the air, and launches himself on the chest of the next aide. The wounded man is sent hurling into orbit, unable to catch a breath.

எவன் என்று நினைத்தாய்
எதை கண்டு சிரித்தாய்!
விதை ஒன்று முளைக்கையில்
வெளிப்படும் முழுரூபம்!

Within the next nanosecond, Wiz ducks under the swing of the third assailant’s baseball bat and effectuates a soccer-style bicycle kick to the man’s head, almost killing him.

Wiz then barrages onto the torso of the fourth backup man, and climbs up on his frontality. Bloop. He rips into his eye sockets with the middle and forefingers of both his hands. Blood gurgles out. As Wiz brings him to the floor with a thump, he dodges a katana, aimed right at his head. What’s more, on the way down, he yanks back with his right forearm, snapping the man‘s neck like a tree branch. The click eerily reverberates within the four walls of the warehouse.

நெருப்புக்கு பிறந்தான்
நித்தம் நித்தம் வளர்ந்தான்…
வேளை வந்து சேரும்போது
வெளிப்படும் சுயரூபம்!

Quickly recovering from his own fall, Wiz snatches the shoulder of the fifth attacker in one hand. He shoves his other hand into the man’s crotch, lifts him off the ground, and slams him down on his skull. As if it wasn’t enough to quench his angst, Wiz digs into his face with his boots, leaving it a mushy wreck. Quite a sight.

Giving no chance for the least kind of recovery, he goes for the neck-jugular of the sixth accomplice, digging his fingers in, and almost grabbing his windpipe. Blood squirts around.

யார் என்று புரிகிறதா
இவன் தீ என்று தெரிகிறதா?

Farukh starts shooting at Wiz. But, his injured hand makes it difficult for him to fix his target.

Wiz, meanwhile, smoothly segues from one direction to the other, in rhythm to the apposite lines of each attack, smartling dodging the bullets, all the while. Years of military training had taught him this bare minimum. The strategy was to strike an aggressor in opposing directions, so that he’s denied the necessary time and composure to bethink a counter-attack

Wiz’s ‘speedball’ moves, in fact, roll into one another, creating an overwhelming tumbling effect. To an outside observer, it would appear to be one simultaneous tornado of movement, of blinding speed – a blur too fast for the eye to follow, but then, quite a lot of mayhem was being effortlessly unleashed.

தடைகளை வென்றே
சரித்திரம் படைத்தவன்
நியாபகம் வருகிறதா?

Wiz slides into a vicious heel strike to the groin of the seventh bodyguard, and goes back with a rising elbow to the underside of his chin. Clank. And, as he arcs down his other heel onto the bridge of his nose, there are no wind-ups, no wasted motion; each attack feels painstakingly improvised to slip naturally into the next.

யாருக்கும் அடிமை இல்லை
இவன் யாருக்கும் அரசன் இல்லை!
காடுகள் தாண்டி கடக்கின்ற பொழுது
காட்டுக்கும் காயம் இல்லை!

Frantic firing from Farukh continues, but Wiz doesn’t seem to mind it one bit.

Ducking a lunging blow from behind, Wiz grabs the baseball bat from the grip of the eighth assistant and pushes it back against the man’s ribs, fracturing the floating ones. He then proceeds to smash the heads of the ninth and the tenth apprentices, with the resounding effect of the willow bludgeoning into the bones. Sweet mother of the lord.

சின்ன சின்ன அணுவாய்
மண்ணுக்குள்ளே கிடப்பான்
வெட்டுபடும் வேளையிலே
வெளிப்படும் விஸ்வருபம்

The final assailant comes at Wiz’s head with another katana sword. With jaw-dropping precision, Wiz uses his nimble reflexes to turn it towards the man’s own abdomen, and as a continuing single stroke, slices the gun-held hand of Farukh, who’s left starring into space like a mutilated zombie, with no freakin’ time to react.

The whole thing might look all gape-worthy, but, in essence, just a basic battle protocol: first, attack the arm that attacks you. Wasting no time, he thrusts the katana right into Farukh’s torso, with the pointed end making a proud exit from the man’s back.

And as the next silvery drop lands onto the bucket, Wiz pauses for a fraction of a second – his first time in the last thirty seconds – to check on Nirupama.

என்ன ரூபம் எடுப்பான்
எவருக்கு தெரியும்!
சொன்ன ரூபம் மாற்றி மாற்றி
எடுப்பான்… விஸ்வருபம்!

The henchmen in the vicinity of the scene had been taken care of. But, Wiz knows that the combat is far from over.

He picks up Farukh’s gun from the floor, and starts shooting the stream of men, rushing in from all directions. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bullets tear through the air, sending splinters flying. Windows shatter, spewing glass shards everywhere. The scattershot firing from the opposite end starts gouging the walls.

Wiz degloves the katana from Farukh’s stomach, and moves towards Nirupama.

Footsteps thumping all around, he whizzes past flying bullets, running like a rugby player, tackling fatal rucks and headbutts. And, in a truly remarkable final flourish, he slashes her handcuff with the sword.

யார் என்று புரிகிறதா
இவன் தீ என்று தெரிகிறதா?
தடைகளை வென்றே
சரித்திரம் படைத்தவன்
நியாபகம் வருகிறதா?

The transformation – the best ever of the millennium – has been actualized.

In true Ulaga Nayagan style.