Saturday, October 26, 2013


Release date:
October 25, 2013
Saurabh Varma


Manish Paul, Elli Avram, Manish Choudhary, Varun Badola, Puja Gupta, Raghav Kakker, Vikesh Kumar

There’s something unusual going on in Bollywood these days. For a few years now, cine-buffs have been lamenting the fact that so many Hindi films start off strongly and then fizzle out post-interval, usually because the screenplay runs out of ideas. In recent months though, the opposite has happened too often, which is no better. And so it is with Mickey Virus. Writer-director Saurabh Varma’s first film has enough material to indicate that this is a man who should be handed the baton again. Mickey V though takes just too long to establish its setting and settle down before the action takes off in the second half, by which time it’s a tad bit late. 

When the going’s good it’s actually quite a bit of fun, but before that you must have the patience to sit through a pre-interval portion where everyone talks in a Dilli-naujawanon-ka lingo that does not rest easy on the tongues of the lead quartet who go by the cutesy names Mickey, Chutney, Floppy and Pancho. This is not to suggest that youngsters in the Capital don’t speak in this fashion – they do. The point is that it takes a certain type of person to carry off a certain kind of language, but the writing and direction of these four just makes them look and sound like they’re trying too hard. Puja Gupta who plays Chutney was the hero’s forward and flirty neighbor in last year’s Vicky Donor, which is interesting since, in completely different ways, Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Delhi Belly (2011) and Vicky Donor managed to capture certain flavours of Delhi-youth-speak that Mickey V can’t quite pull off. If you ever had a doubt, here’s proof that films click not because of individual elements but when a bunch of such elements fall into place.

So anyway, Mickey Virus is the story of four friends who are layabouts and hackers rolled in one. Mickey Arora of the title is a genius from Malviya Nagar who mis-manages a grocery store, works with anti-virus-software creators and can crack pretty much every kumpooter puzzle thrown at him. He becomes obsessed with a character he created for a game called Kung Fu Chameli and is smitten at sight when he meets her doppelganger offline. He pursues her in a manner that Hindi films seem to consider sweet because, well, stalking ain’t a word Bollywood acknowledges in its vocabulary. Mickey’s misbehaviour may seem mild in comparison with the obnoxiously intimidating aggressiveness of Kundan in Raanjhanaa, but it’s unacceptable in a nation that should be aiming at a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. Meanwhile, the Delhi Police’s ACP Siddhanth is looking for a hacker to help solve a particularly perplexing case and zeroes in on the very reluctant Mickey.

One of the strengths of Mickey Virus is that when Mickey and his friends hack various websites, they actually sound like they’re on the job, not like a bunch of kids playing cops ‘n’ robbers. God knows whether such scenes would pass muster with an expert, but they do seem convincing to a layperson. When our hero unwittingly commits a grave crime, the film’s thriller element kicks in and the pace gets interesting. Equally well done is the average Delhi policeman’s absolute cluelessness about computers and the virtual world of dubloo dubloo dubloo. The Haryanvi cops are a hoot and actor Varun Badola is a particular joy to watch as the ever-suspicious Inspector Bhalla. Manish Paul who plays Mickey looks like he could be better in a better film, but the girl he falls for is an inexplicable casting choice. Playing Kamayani George, Greek model Elli Avram’s plasticity is accompanied by that one element most of India seems to crave: gorapan. Can’t think of any other reason she was picked for the part.

So here’s the report card: Mickey Virus is too long, the first half feels too much like it’s an aspirant to coolth, and the ending is the old-fashioned cliched sort where all the villains gather and explain in detail why they did what they did. A pity because for a considerable part of the second half, when it’s being just a mystery, the film is not bad at all.

Rating (out of five): **

CBFC Rating (India):
U /A
Running time:
2 hours 15 minutes
Photograph courtesy: Effective Communication

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