The mobile phones in the city start to float into the sky and flock together like birds. The Government fails to reason the phenomenon and seeks the help from prominent scientists from the country. Dr. Vaseegaran suggests to reassemble Chitti as the phenomenon is beyond science and they need something as powerful as Chitti to fight against it.
2.0 is a 2018 Indian Tamil-language science fiction action film written and directed by S. Shankar, and co-written by B. Jeyamohan. The film was produced by Subaskaran Allirajah and Raju Mahalingam under the banner Lyca Productions. A spiritual successor to Enthiran (2010), 2.0 features Rajinikanth reprising the roles of Dr. Vaseegaran and Chitti, alongside Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson. Sudhanshu Pandey, Adil Hussain, Kalabhavan Shajohn, and Riyaz Khan appear in supporting roles. In addition to its original language, the film will be released in 14 other languages with dubbed versions. The soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics written by Madhan Karky and Na. Muthukumar.
Produced on an estimated budget of ₹543 crore (US$76 million), 2.0 is the most expensive Indian film. Pre-production work for the film began in June 2015. Jackson joined the project the same year in October. After negotiations with numerous actors, including Aamir Khan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, failed to materialize, Kumar was signed on as a primary persona. Principal photography was launched at AVM Studios in December 2015; the first schedule was filmed at EVP World. Scenes were primarily shot in India, particularly in Chennai’s Madras Boat Club and Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Statdium. Some were set in exotic locations by the use of visual effects. Filming was completed by August 2017.
What would it be like if the characters from Endhiran find themselves inside the plot of a typical Shankar movie? 2.0 is what you would get. Using his pet theme – a wronged individual taking revenge on the people who ruined his life (or in this case, the birds he cares for) – the director gives us a film that is part sci-fi, part horror, part vigilante movie and part special effects spectacle.
The film begins with an old man committing suicide from atop a mobile phone tower. We are then introduced to scientist, Dr Vasigaran (Rajinikanth) and his now assistant Nila (Amy Jackson), a humanoid robot. Soon, mobile phones start flying off the shelves and out of everyone’s hands, and Vasigaran is called in to investigate this mysterious occurrence. And when a giant bird, made up of mobile phones, starts attacking the city, the scientist is forced to bring back Chitti (Rajinikanth), the now dismantled robot.
The plot of 2.0 feels familiar; in fact too familiar. There is no mystery in the supernatural occurrences that we see on screen, and for the entire first half, we are forced to wait for the mandatory flashback involving Pakshirajan (Akshay Kumar), the ornithologist who is the old man who we saw at the start of the film. Even the flashback doesn’t hit us hard emotionally the way similar episodes in the director’s Indian and Gentleman made us feel. There is a distinct sense of just going through the motions in the first half, which unfolds like a generic horror movie – except that here, the spirit gets a sci-fi explanation and is described as a person’s aura, made up of micro-photons.
But, plot is not what we go to Shankar’s films for these days. It is the grand canvas in which this director mounts his oft-told stories that makes us look forward to his films. And in 2.0, we get spectacle that is satisfying. In the first half, we get some striking visuals – mobile phones crawling on the road, a forest of glowing phones, a monstrous bird that crackles with energy. There are also visual nods to Hollywood films like Alien (a mobile phone bursting out of a man’s stomach), Terminator 2 (a seemingly indestructible entity that regroups itself) and even Ghostbusters (a contraption that Vasigaran designs to trap the aura). The visual effects, barring a few instances, are competently realised, and the 3D is quite immersive without causing a strain on our eyes.
And yet, despite the entry of Chitti (Rajinikanth), the film seems to be missing a je ne sais quoi. We get an extravagant clash between Chitti and the giant bird, but that’s all. Unlike its predecessor, the film doesn’t find a way to inject humour and inventiveness into the proceedings. Barring a reference to the famous dialogue from Nayakan, the lines are hardly memorable, and the characters pretty functional. The sub-plot involving Dhirendra Bhora (Sudhanshu Pandey), the son of the first film’s villain, Dr Bhora, is underdeveloped. That said, Shankar, who is known for his song picturisation, wisely refrains from introducing songs into this narrative.
It is only with the entry of 2.0 (Rajini, again), which happens a little late than it should have, that the film gets some much-needed energy. As he did in the first film, Rajinikanth digs into this role with his inimitable style and performs with relish. There is even a self-referential punchline that he utters after Nila tells him that he is no longer the No 1, that sends fans into a tizzy. Akshay Kumar is also a solid presence as the antagonist whose heart is in the right place. And the climactic battle between 2.0 and Pakshiraja ensures that we get the bangs we deserved for our bucks. Even though some of the surprises in this segment have been let out in the trailer, Shankar manages to pack in a cute, little surprise that’s 3.0 aka Kutti. If only had he found a way to get these two characters into his plot earlier, 2.0 would have soared.