Dasavatharam – The ten horrors or I want my money back

The problem with being Kamal Hassan is you eventually get consumed by your own ‘thinking man’ image. Kamal Hassan is undoubtedly a good actor. Some of his movies have you crying your heart out, like Mahanadhi. Or laughing your guts out like Michael Madana Kama Rajan. But then, he comes up with these grandiose plans to make an ‘intelligent’ movie and you are crushed by the collapsing reels of his ambition – Guna, Alavandan, Hey Ram. Dasavataram is as ambitious as he gets. And unfortunately, it falls as badly as it can get.

I can only think of one reason for this tendency of his to make such bloopers – a mega ego which probably tells him that he is up there in the list of the world’s intellectuals. Sure, he is intelligent. He has some very well thought-out views on a lot of topics. He probably reads much more than ninety percent of the Tamil film industry. Sadly, being a good actor or an intelligent person is not adequate criteria to write a good script or screenplay. Kamal fails to realise this. Like a third year, precocious, graduate student, eagerly grabbing his chance to voice his rapidly forming world views, Kamal throws idea upon idea at the audience, more to impress than to explore. One minute he hints at the dangers of biotechnology. Another minute he is urging us to live in harmony with the environment. The third he questions the existence of God. He talks about untouchables and about historical religious wars between Shaivaites and Vaishanvites. Also in the mire is a reference to Muslims being typecast as terrorists (Oh Boy! and he is the one to talk about typecasting. Watch out for a Japanese character called Yuka who is from Hiroshima, is a Kung fu goddess and has a brother who runs something like a Shaolin school)

It is not just the ideas that swing wildly. It is also the mood of the movie. The first fifteen minutes try to establish a serious tone. Then presumably, the director realises that the audience would probably find the whole thing too intense and the track switches to comedy. You grin uneasily when funny lines follow gruesome killings, wondering what to make of it. The movie can’t quite make up its mind till the end on whether it is supposed to be serious with funny thrown in or the other way around.

If Kamal the scriptwriter has bombed, what about Kamal the actor? After all, the movie is supposed to be a vehicle for his impressive range of emoting. This is probably where the plot could have been structured better. The ten roles that Kamal plays do not seem integral to the plot line. Some of them are totally irrelevant and seem to be there just to showcase Kamal the actor. Why did you need the Grandma or Avatar Singh (dancing with an aged Jayaprada, reminding you that it is not just the movies that are going to the dogs and you may as well take a moment to worry about politics)? The other roles could have been played by other actors. Kamal as George Bush looks as silly as Hrithik Roshan as the queen in Dhoom 2. Kamal as the villain, Christian Fletcher looks strangely out of proportion, with a large android head and a punier body. All that money spent on make-up would have been so much better spent on special effects. The scenes of the sea surging and cars and trees being tossed around look like the work of someone who has just completed the first level of Arena Multimedia’s courses.

The protagonist Govind is a role Kamal can sleepwalk through and he does exactly that. Balram Naidu, the RAW officer is the most impressive of them all, actually bringing a few chuckles. The dalit environmentalist also manages to convince us that it is not Kamal playing the role. Fundamentally though, a lack of clarity in the plot renders most of the characters superfluous and hence lessens your ability to admire the disguises or the voice modulations or even a surprising leap from the usual put-on accent Kamal uses when he speaks English. Govind is supposed to be a scientist, trying to prevent a deadly virus from falling into the wrong hands. Christian Fletcher is supposed to be working for the wrong hands. So, are the characters played by Kamal supposed to be aiding the destruction of the virus? Or are they proof of the fact that there is good and bad everywhere?

With even the characters played by Kamal floundering, there has been little focus on other roles. Leading to some downright annoying ones like that of Asin. Towards the end of the movie, you want to grab the bronze statue she holds for most part of the movie and hit her on the head to get her to shut up. Peripheral characters like Sethu, the greedy head of the biotech firm selling out to foreign hands are laughable. Why does the evil dealmaker run around for 15 minutes lugging a VIP-like suitcase straight from the 80s?

The bottomline is that Kamal, the scriptwriter has bitten off more than he can chew leading to Kamal, the actor getting a raw deal.


Anonymous said...

It's probably not a coincidence that the few negative reviews I read seemed to be written by adults, and not juvenile fan boys who still haven't learnt to type a coherent sentence.

- Manoj

Anjali said...

How can you be so kind to Kamal Sir?? Aaaargh... did you forget the part where Mallika Sherawat did a dancing number around Dr. Sethu and stabbed him in the neck at the end of the cabaret? And the part where Krishnaveni paati was rolled over the head of the crowd to reach the idol and rolled back saying "Poanappo road-lai poanein, thirumbi varumbo flyover-lai vandein" And the part where Avtaar Singh can dance with full energy during the most horrible tamil song i've ever heard and conveniently coughs blood only in the end of it? And the nurse just taking Avtaar Singh's pulse because "marindu ethindu varallai"
And the Times of India gave it 2 stars and Mid Day has given it 3 stars!! Aaaaaargghhh!!

anita said...

Manoj - I agree

Anjali - :) Think we can spend an entire evening retraumatising ourselves. What about all and sundry speaking in Tamil - right from the U.S. biotech firm's denizens to Yuka?

Rama Karthikeyan said...

Nicely written. I came across this line in another post.
"If you are ready to throw crap at people, your name better be Rajni".
Self propaganda will never be accepted. Be it Talaivars Baba or this flick.

I tried to look at it in a different way.

Anonymous said...

Aptly put- Kamal´s ego invariably gets the better of him. And all this hype seems to be oneupmanship over Rajni´s Shivaji.

Mithua said...

I am not from south India but used to be a fan of his and have seen many of his Tamil films.
About 20 years back Kamal lost his head to his ego. He wanted to do something "different" in every movie and took the easiest way out through makeup and gimmick playing-

Baldheaded killer
Old man

He seemed more interested in the "how" rather than "what" he is making.

Anita said...

rama - the analysis in your blog was pretty cool

theghoshwhowalks - i guess big artist = big ego

mithua - actually he has made some good movies in the last 20 years. the ones mentioned in my blog as good were made in that time span. And I am yet to come across a comedy of his which was not good. Yeah, but as he gets more 'senior' he gets more hyperbolic

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Shiva said...

Anitha ,

You may want know this is what I wrote in Mr. Rama's blog ... Good Luck!

Shiva said...
ahahah :) nalla entertaining blog ...for that nalla sirupulla thannaman vilazyatu blog! I just happen to stumble upon this blog from the royalvilla.blogspot.com with Anitha's jovial kuthu pavam kassu illaimey romba kashtum ..she wants her money back ... then why to go to cinema, summa apidiye jolliya friends odey OSIley pogalam illai. All you anithas and ramas, chumma athuruthu illai , otharuthu illai puchandi kamikiruthu illai cinema ....something more than that which unfortunatly less people in India understand. I am surprised when people comment abt the story of Dasa. These are the same people who also happen to sing the glory of the stories abt a man with few cows/buffalos becoming a Millionaire, A man who has crores of rupees that need to be spent in 30 days, A guy who again earns in crores as Software Prof in US (I would need some reference...looks like a cool job)etc ...Guys should know/realise whom we are talking abt and infact what are we upto ...if not at the efforts of a great actor of the century atleast for the efforts put up by an Indian (most of whose films are qualified to compete with Hollywood) one should have the required maturity to appreciate. Anyway no use in any further arguements or counter statements. As per the saying people's verdict is the lord's one...People have already made Dasa a stupendous and astounding success...100 crores in first week ....people compared with Sivaji...ahah Sivaji got lost in Tsunami ....total collection of Sivaji was by-passed in two weeks. These are not summa puchandi ...refer Nakeeran's report probably you will also get to know Sivaji's loss in pondicherry and related law suit by the theate owner and also get know Sivaji's deposit loss in Madurai.... History repeats itself chumma romba adunna aatum kandudum...Gharuvum thavirkkey Sollu Apidi sonnathu inthey Ulaga Nayagan endru Sollu. And Kuselan ...wow guys even said Kuselan will thrash Dasa .enn hype ahaha good joke deposittey kaannom! Aganthai Kudaathu ....
Ithu koothai paarthu sernthey kootum illai ....anbukkum, thiramaikkum sernthey oru thani kootum.
If someone thinks different and wanted to do something different odanney he/she is egoistic ahhahaha enn maturity! And someone said Kamal shud learn from Rajini's big heart..ahah athu thaan parthomey how he treated Pasupathi and Meena during the Movie marketing and how he has mis guided his fans chumma tamilan, karppu, Elzhai nnu solli.

I am not saying Dasa has a great story but it is nevertheless in the braket where you guys are rating it.... Be honest to self ..when you comparison do it with correct and equal personalities and skills and more important with correct, authentic facts. Anyway just thought of sharing what i felt when I read such......for that I am not a regular blogger and probably this is the first and last visit to this site! Good Bye guys! God Bless you All.

Also Stats pathi pesurvanglukku ....let me know I will give the authentic stats and abt the larger than life humble person who happen to MGR kittey adi vagunithu iruthu ellam.

Folks obsolutely no disrespect intended to Rajini..infact when we discuss among our friends we don't even adress Rajini as avan, ivan , we have always addressed him with respect for his age and for whatever qualities he has, his own fans who trust him. But this refrain, this maturity is completely missed when critising Kamal so obviously it would be a different ball game!

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