Jun 13, 2008

Dasavathaaram


The most eagerly awaited movie of recent times is here at last. With Kamal donning 10 unique roles, and several of their identities having been kept secretly, the major curiosity was about how Kamal is going to surprise us on the screen. Also, there was this big question of the justification of all the 10 roles. Kamal has done a splendid job as an actor most of the time, and as a script writer, not that much. I would say that I wasnt enthralled about everything after the movie; it has its share of high moments and a few low ones as well.
The movie begins with Govind (Kamal 1) sharing the dais with Karunanidhi, Manmohan Singh and George Bush (Kamal 2) in Chennai and delivering an intense, though visually distracted speech on bioterrorism and saving the earth, and makes a reference to the 12th century, when Saiva-Vaishnava conflict was at its peak in South India. Rangaraja Nambi (Kamal 3) attempts to stop Kulothunga Cholan-II (Nepoleon) from removing the deity of Lord Vishnu from the famous Govindaswamy temple of Chidambaram. He also refuses to convert to Saivism. Both these acts anger Nepoleon, who orders Kamal to be tied to the deity and dumped into the Bay of Bengal.
Back to the 21st century, in Philadelphia, Govind is a biotechnologist, specialized in virology. He works in a private company which expertises in biological weapons. Govind and his colleagues have just invented a deadly airborne virus which attracts some bad elements to the company for a lucrative deal with some high authorities. Kamal finds about it just in time and takes away the capsule in which the virus is stored and fleds. The bad elements employ Christian Fletcher (Kamal 4), a former CIA agent to retrieve the capsule from Govind. Then begins the cat-and-mouse game, which brings all the players to Tamil Nadu. The other six characters of Kamal intersect this deadly game, which proceeds with a lot of blood spills before culminating in a gargantuan climax involving Tsunami.
The first half of the movie has one of the most fast-paced screenplays in Tamil films. Too many things happen so quickly that even the songs dont have the usual decelerating effect. The characters are well-etched and the story takes us through 12th century Chidambaram, modern Philadelphia and Washington DC, Japan and India. The second half drags in comparison to that and reduces the slickness of the movie. Asin's character is a huge letdown since she is downright irritating after the melodious and sweet 'Mukunda' song. She is the weaklink in the movie, and in the end, one cant but feel that her character could be done away with. The 'romance' between Kamal and Asin is the worst I have seen in any Kamal movies.
The role of Rangarajan Nambi is the most intense among all, though Balram Naidu role as the RAW officer wins the best of 10 avtars. He is so hilarious, with some very funny lines and body language. Fletcher comes next best, whereas the 'lighthouse' Khalifa is the least impressive, followed by the Japanese guy. Also, on the Avtar Singh show, the big question is, how come a Punjabi singer gets such a rousing reception and crowd in Chennai? Amazing how Kamal could appear very tall and quite short (the 'paatti' role). After the initial excitement of seeing Kamal in different roles fades away, we get engrossed in the proceedings of the movie, treating as though the various roles are played by different actors.
Though the story is quite weak, there are some intelligent and brilliant scenes throughout the movie, which challenge our grey matter. My favorite scenes are: the appearance of hawk when Rangarajan Nambi is tortured, a butterfly flying in some scenes (Butterfly effect), Bush's question ("What is NaCl?") and the next few seconds, a scientist's remark on NaCl ("I cant explain you more than NaCl for this stuff in Tamil"), his stand on faith ("I am not saying that God is not there, but I'm saying that it would be good if God is there"). Also, there is a lot of thinking process that has gone into naming and characterizing the Indian roles. e.g., 'Boovaraghan' is a dark-skinned (probably pork-eating) Dalit activist whose quest is to save the land (sand); 'Avtar' Singh is a singer who gets a new avtar (lease of life) after narrowly escaping from the jaws of death. And the shorter-statured 'paatti' steps onto people's shoulders before committing an act that would save the state.
The songs, as I mentioned earlier, dont have much impact on the movie, so Himesh Reshammiya's efforts appear to neither strengthen nor weaken the script. Technically it is superb, though the camera appears to move too fast in many scenes, leading to blurred images. Also, the link between the events of the 12th century and the current time is hard to see, which makes the initial episode stand aloof. (Though one can say that 'religious conflict' is the common factor, it subtly portrayed).
Dasavathaaram is a visual treat, and is breathtaking in several scenes. Had the story been little solid, it would have done full justice to all the hype and the money spent.

23 comments:

mitr_bayarea said...

Raju-

counting the hours to watch it tomorrow, already heard that the storyline is weak, but, the grandiousness is what I am looking forward to, besides seing Kamal in 10 get-ups.

Pintoo said...

waiting to watch the movie. Thanks for the reviews. I somehow doesnt expect much out of the story. But to watch kamal in 10 roles should be real treat

Me too said...

From your review can I presume 10A is inbetween classic MMKR and commercial Thenali?

Ramya harish said...

i read ur review partially.. storyline i have not read..want to watch it only..read hindu's review..it read 'compelled story to bring all the avathars together'..sad abt it.. sujatha,miss u..

Pintoo said...

that was a real visual treat by kamal. I like the movie though in places pieces does not fit.

Syamala said...

some of the characters look zombie like . they look bad. the worst were the jap guy and the tall guy. my rating ....6


syam

Nitin said...

raju, i agree with your review. saw it in tampa yesterday, and we had a surprise visit from the japanese lady in the movie who was married to suresh, and is a sister of the japanese kamal. she was just sharing her experiences. but other than that, the movie was alright, those intelligent scenes that you were talking about, i noticed those too, i wonder how many people will make that connection butterfly effect, chaos theory. like you said the romance aspect between kamal and asin was atrociously bad, she does get irritating calling out my perumal, my perumal, but i felt she did well for that role, and although she tries to crack comedy, it wasn't great. i felt even though sujatha and crazy mohan did not help with the dialogues, there were a few places were u could feel their influence on kamal. like most of the comedy track by cia kamal was crazy mohan style, but amazing body language for that one, and the poovazhagan one, fletcher, and patti were also amazing. the tall afghan, and the japanese could have been avoided, had nothing much to do with teh story, and those characters u couldn't really notice any good facial expressions from kamal with all that makeup. but overall, it was good. i just hope it makes the money back for aascar ravichandran, i think it will, and hopefully kamal doesn't write his own scripts, his next movie marmayogi is also written and directed by himself, hope it comes out well. btw, also saw kuruvi, worst movie.

Anonymous said...

Hi raju,
I saw the movie on the first day,9.30 A.M show with cousins. I am not much impressed by this movie.There are many logical error. Even a thinner story line available in the movie like "sivaji" "Mudhalvan" had a racy screen play. And in too many places he was just played with the Vishnu idol,which was not at all necessary. What for the last speech(story narration) he had made? That was a great logical blunder, the meeting after the Tsunami hit!!!!.May be kamal should have make a healthy discussion with the associates(not like Santhanabharathi),story narraters and the assistants before start his next movie.
Murthy

Anu said...

Raju..
I just saw it yesterday.. and my main question is why is Mallika sherawat in the movie?? :)!

tt_giant said...

enna raju... ungaaLu yemaathitaarey!

Nitin said...

good question, especially mallika sherawat proficient in tamil, omg. i think kamal just made this movie in this way to get the money back, whcih is why he need mallika sherawat, it will run well in hindi with all these masala aspects in it. hopefully his next marmayogi is something good in both acting and screenplay like his last virumandi

Anonymous said...

raju, why should there be a strong romance in any movie???!!!
I am happy that Kamal ignored romance in one of his movies - soemthing I have been predicting that he will never do in his lifetime. What if , thankfully, he underplayed romance in a masala movie and focussed on the raciness of screenplay? I think as audience we must grow up?
I mean , masaala padam = comedy+fight+romance?
C'mon, you are a kamal fan, you are better than that. Or, ofcourse, Kamal fan also means that we expect 'romatnic' jalsa in all his movies? Konjam yosinga

Raju said...

Mitr, hope you liked the movie.. I think Kamal didnt disappoint us with the grandeousness.
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Pintoo, I have observed that those who watched the movie with low expectations enjoyed it a lot.. I think that should be the way to go to Tamil movies generally.. :)
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Aparna, well.. I would say that Tenali was better than 10A in terms of tight script. Only in subtle intelligence, 10A scores more than Tenali.

Raju said...

Ramya, did you like the movie?

Though the story seems to be 'compelled', there is a reason behind the characterization and presence of each avatar. In the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, though there are many characters, each character would have contributed something important towards Frodo's quest - some more and some less; similarly, in 10A too, all the 10 avatars have some contribution to the story.
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Syamala, Welcome here..

I agree with you.. some faces looked quite bad and stood alone as plastic masks.. could have been avoided..
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Nitin, agree with you on Kamal's dialogues for comedy scenes. Having been associated with 'Crazy' Mohan for over 2 decades, he definitely has some frequency-match with him, which is evident in the wordplay seen in Mumbai Express and here too.. I felt that in some scenes it could have been avoided, since the screenplay was racing so fast and we didnt have to have those one-liners as speed-brakers. They were more like "laugh-and-forget" dialogues, which would have made sense in a comedy movie but for 10A, esp. in the second half, they had a -ve effect on me.

Raju said...

Murthy, I wish I too was in Madras to see the movie with the gang..
Yeah, the last dialogue seemed more like reinforcing his ideas, rather than any solid meaning. C'd sense some sort of confusion between his ideology (atheism) and the idea for the climax (highly suggestive of theism).
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Anu, as Nitin said, it seems to be just for the Hindi audience, though I doubt very much that she and Himesh alone would be crowd-pullers for Hindi audience.
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Deepak, aamam.. konjam emAthamdhAn..
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Anon, I didnt say that 10A should have had strong romance. To me, it looked silly for Kamal and Asin to fall in love. I would have had no complaints if they went their way after their mission was accomplished. But, since Asin and Kamal were married in the 12th century story and the modern events happen around the same area, it is as if their relationship continues in this birth too (which is beautifully shown by the shot in which they sort of propose to each other leaning on the same statue which was the reason for their partition in the previous birth). Kamal, I think, made Asin to deliberatly screech "PerumAley" zillion times only to show the typical manic behavior of the extremely religious people. It was, I believe, meant to irritate us, but almost all of us got too irritated for good. May be he wanted to show that love is blind and love is destiny and hence no matter how irritating the other partner is, they are meant to unite. Having said all that, I still wish Asin was shown 'lovable' which would have made their romance little more solid and believable.

Anonymous said...

NaCl in tamil is uppu!!

Raju said...

Anon, apdiya? Thanks for the info.. Naan en mandaiyai pottu udaichittu irundhenn... Now I am enlightened.. :)

Anonymous said...

a scientist's remark on NaCl ("I cant explain you more than NaCl for this stuff in Tamil")

that response was for this one..

kumar.s.r said...

I enjoyed watching Dasaavathaaram .
Rangarajan Nambi , Naidu & Vincent were the best of the lot.
10 times better than Sivaji .

Nidhi said...

bad movie and a faithful review by a Kamal fan ;)...

Raju said...

Anon, hmmm.. gotcha :)
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Kumar, I totally agree with u.. Though there were some minor complaints by me too, I am more than happy with this film..
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Nidhi, agree on the second part, but not on the first! :)

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