Information theft is epidemic. Go anywhere. It follows you. It is happening in homes where husbands are spying on wives’ phone data. It is happening with your Adhaar Card where data is stolen by anyone who cares to. A film, then, on the power of info-theft? Sounds good. And Vishal Krishan who has lately acquired a reputation for political activism, sinks into the role of Karthivaran an army personnel who is uncontrollably angered by corruption. When a bank loan goes horribly wrong (the plotting is so seamless that it goes fluently and fast from background information to in-your-face action) Karthivaran sets off a trail of animated pursuit that leads to an information-mafioso, Satyamoorthy(Arjun) a digital devil who wants to hack into every Indian’s life with the express purpose of controlling it. Every individual’s life, that is.
Abhimanyudu knocks the socks off the technology racket. Scarily the film suggests there is nothing private about any individual's life. We are all sitting ducks to violation of supposedly confidential performance. The film makes telling use of the data-hacking process. Shot with an eye for slickness that is never allowed to become a sickness, the film derides the misuse of digital technology without getting excessively sassy, knowledgeable or stylish.
The sharp-witted, straight-shooting screenplay is engrossing most of the way, creating pockets of havoc as Karthivaran takes on master-hacker Sathyamoorthy. For half the film the director , who seems to have grown up reading internet stories of cyber-hacking, ensures that the hero and the antagonist don’t come face-to-face. The build-up to their imminent confrontation is deftly projected into a series of engrossing episodes, each suggesting a link between privileged information and its violation.
The action sequences specially one post-interval where the hero chases down his wrong-doers are first-rate, skilled in their build-up and yet preserving a kind of rawness at the edges that goes well with the mood of shocked revelations regarding the damage digital disinformation can do to our lives. The presentation is smooth but the jagged edges in the inter-relations—for instance the troubled relationship between the hero and his financially troubled father—are not attempted to be blunted for the sake of a smooth ride. We are often subjected to uncomfortable interrogation on the way on why we randomly and liberally part with private information.
But I wish some of the 'lighter' moments like the hero's introductory flirting-in-the-pub sequence had been curtailed. The narrative is otherwise long and riveting and needed no old-fashioned diversions.Preserving the pontifications at a minimum the narrative moves quickly to action-packed second-half where the Hero and The Hacker clash in body and intellect.Vishal Krishna and Arjun make formidable adversaries. Their confirmation is agile and adrenaline-charged bringing to the screen a kind of compelling kinetic combustion rare to our cinema.
The climactic mob-justice sequence is built up into a pacy churning accentuated by Vishal's agile action and sarcastic comments. Indeed, Vishal has shaped into one of the finest actors in Tamil/Telugu cinema, willing to take risks without desirous of being patted on the back all time. Abhimanyudu is a big leap forward for Vishal . He is so much at home in the environment of cyber tension that he carries us with his misgivings in waves of angry outburst vented at the perversity that underlines all online invasion.
This is a film that crosses confidently from its specialized theme to a universal condemnation of the abuse of the right to information. Must watch.