Mickey Virus review: Shades of Vicky Donor and a lot of facepalms
We’re not actually drawn into the world of hackers except superficially, so we don’t actually have any idea how the characters in this film are doing what they’re doing—whether they’re getting into trouble or out of it.
In writer-director Saurabh Varma’s comedy thriller Mickey Virus, a gang of uncatchable cyber thieves called Bhram is driving the police crazy. "Yeh chavanniyan nahin aaye hain churaane ATM se," declares ACP Siddhant (Manish Choudhary) in something of a eureka moment, making him also realise that his current team isn’t going to cut it—they can barely switch their computers on without assistance. To stop Bhram, the ACP will have to get some outside help.
Cut to Nehru Place (New Delhi's equivalent of Mumbai's Lamington Road), where the ACP and his inspector Bhalla (Varun Badola) show up, hoping to recruit a hacker whose brain thinks and works like Bhram’s. We meet Professor (Nitesh Pandey), "the Papaji of hackers", and the streetsmart, no-nonsense Chutney (Puja Gupta), Floppy (Raghav Kakkar) and Pancho (Vikesh Kumar). But despite all their skills — and perhaps because of their entirely facepalm-inducing names — they don't really fit the ACP’s brief. He wants "hacking ki duniya ka Sehwag." Enter Mickey Arora (Manish Paul), fondly known as The Virus.
He's lazy, allergic to work, and seems to own an alarming collection of, erm, topical T-shirts (Jab Tak Hai Trojan, says one; Last Virus Standing says another) — because what self respecting hacker doesn't wear his profession on his t-shirt sleeve? He's also famed in hacker circles for having created a sexy, sari-clad online avatar called Kung Fu Chameli. Using this, he spreads his viruses. We’re never really shown what kind of viruses he may be spreading or why he's considered a genius, but everyone including his t-shirt says he is, so we’re going to have to go with it.
In Mickey Virus, if you start looking for loopholes, it will be a frustratingly satisfying exercise.
So anyway, the ACP and the inspector tell him they need his help but Mickey says no thanks. So they do what the police do, that is mildly threaten him, which leaves Mickey with no option but to fall in line. But there's a problem: he’s very distracted at the moment by Kamayani (Elli Avram), whom he bumped into at a vegetable market. She looks alarmingly like Kung Fu Chameli. Net result: Mickey's mad skills and Kamayani’s half-functional brain let Mickey retrieve all sorts of personal information about Kamayani, upping his ability to follow her all over town. Ace hacker, psycho stalker, same difference. For some reason, this makes her very giggly, and she goes from being dismissive to wanting to celebrate their one-month anniversary in about 20 seconds. Why play hard to get when you can get the show on the road?
The ACP and Inspector have to keep reminding Mickey that he works for them and Mickey keeps trying (kinda). He makes some headway with work, but then he also makes some headway with his real life Kung Fu Chameli, and things get confusing and then they get complicated and then he’s washing his face in a basin and there’s a plot twist.
The unfortunate thing about this movie is that it’s neither here nor there. Some bits of the story have great potential, but never really realise it. Some of the dialogues and Delhiite nuances that have been captured are laugh-out-loud funny, while others are awkward, laboured and indulge clichés. Some performances stand out (extra points for Bhalla), some you barely notice. So there’s no real consistency in any area, and this is sad because when the movie begins, it makes you think of Ayushmaan Khurrana in Vicky Donor and how delightful it was.
We’re not actually drawn into the world of hackers except superficially, so we don’t actually have any idea how the characters in this film are doing what they’re doing—whether they’re getting into trouble or out of it. We also miss out on things like the thrill of being introduced to or explained the potential of technology and how hackers can take over the world.
Still, the movie is watchable for those looking for something easy-breezy, and Manish Paul is affable and has a good energy about him. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
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