Film: "Mickey Virus"; Cast: Manish Paul, Eli Avram, Varun Badola, Manish Choudhary; Director: Saurabh Varma; Rating: ***1/2
"Mickey Virus" is Bollywood's first full-fledged film on the virtual world. The hero -if we may call Manish Paul's languid lazy vagabondish character that - is a computer hacker, and one who likes to take his time over every punch of the keyboard.
Mercifully, debutant director Saurabh Varma's film moves in a mood defiantly opposite to the hero's indolent indiscretions. Tightly-scripted, cleverly-worded and arrestingly encrypted, "Mickey Virus" drags the hackers' hemisphere into the hectic mode.
I am tempted to use computer jargon to describe the ultra-svelte moves that define the virtual progression of this slickly-executed cyber-drama. Alas, I am not as equipped as our debutant hero and his comp-friendly pals (with names like 'Floppy' and 'Chutney') to throw around electronic jargon.
Even if your familiarity with the virtual world is minimal, "Mickey Virus" makes for enjoyable viewing. It's voguish, vibrant, vital and viral, and yet extremely fastidious about keeping the plot above the temptation of throwing virtual weight around.
First and foremost, this is a well-woven thriller about an average 20-something Delhi dude who falls in love and falls into a cyber-trap and hits his head into a scam that could destroy his life.
To reveal any more of the plot would be akin to giving away the film's USPs. Suffice to say that Varma knows his cinema as closely as he knows his computer. He weaves cinematic elements into a kind of one-night-in-the-life-of ... tale that spins in dizzying motions.
Delhi, that favourite city of many recent, decent and indecent, dramas and thrillers, is again caught in sinister provocative postures. The roads and lanes, Nehru Place or a chowmein outlet, every outdoor location has a story to tell.
Strange, how Manish, switching effortlessly from his cocky on-stage antics on reality shows to a kind of languorous screen appearance that is dangerously close to Ranbir Kapoor's Sid-meets-"Besharam" act, pulls out all stops to make Mickey look real to the point of being your next door neighbour's son, much in the same way as Ayushmann Khurrana.
Only, Manish is goofier, more adventurous in his exploration of adrift urbanite. He is undoubtedly an interesting actor with an unpremeditated screen presence.
Let's put it this way -- if over-instruction obstructs Mickey's dexterity on the computer, then too many rehearsals are sure to spoil Manish's camera-friendliness.
"Mickey Virus" gives the debutant a chance to romance the dark side of youngistan with unselfconscious fluidity. There is also a cutely written romance woven into the hacker's tale. Eli Avram currently locked away in "Bigg Boss" house shows up as a manifestation of ... well, Manish's virtual fantasy named Kungfu Chameli. There is an endearing courtship plan blessedly not over-punctuated by songs. God Forbid! Manish's Mickey probably doesn't even watch Bollywood films!
For a newcomer to shoulder a thriller adeptly there must be some accomplished actors around him for support. Manish gets his namesake Manish Choudhary as a stern placid police officer who needs Mickey's hacking skills to track an international gang. Choudhary is in fine (uni)form. But the very talented Varun Badola as Choudhary's assistant is a scene stealer. Mouthing the film's catchiest lines casually, Varun brings more to his role than what's written for the character. The rest of the supporting cast too gets into the mood of the plot.
Undoubtedly, "Mickey Virus" is Manish's made-to-order vehicle. He casually invites us into his suddenly-troubled world and then persuades us to cringe at the progressive crisis built around Delhi's cyber stratosphere. The uniqueness of the plot works effectively in covering up the loopholes and rather embarrassing coincidences that bridge various dramatic elements in the plot. It does get far-flung. But the leaps are made without fractured bones.
Quirky, colourful, agile and hectic, "Mickey Virus" is a 'virtually' interesting way for Manish and his director to start their respective careers. This is an oddball of a movie that tries to make sense of the senseless whirligig of urban internet-driven lifestyles.
What the 'hack'! Just go out there and have fun.