Dasavatharam was to release with the movie Sivaji. Sivaji made waves, but Dasavatharam did not cause as much as a ripple. No sensible person would have been surprised because it was after all a Kamal movie. His movies havent had a history of being on time. Finally after two years, they pulled in Jackie Chan for the audio release, made Mallika Sherawat hold his hand all through the function and made big time news. The music wasnt all that impressive. Anyway, the hype of the movie wasnt around the music, it was around the 10 characters played by Dr.Kamal Hasan.
Even after the music release, problems did not go away from Dasa… but the Supreme Court of India said "Release the movie" and so they released the movie without any delay, lest somebody else files a case.
I went on the third day of release (courtesy, my cousin Kaushik). I was happy for the fact that the audience has managed to drill down into Kamal the fact that he needs to provide entertainment in a movie. A movie needs to reach the people, everything else is next. He has kept away from his usual sensous appeal and too much of westernisation. But he still continues to try and drill his concept of "There is No God." into people. The doctorate holder needs more time to understand that this concept wont sell at this time of the Kali Yuga. 24 hours after watching the movie, I am still wondering why it is called Kamal Hasan’s magnum opus!!
The story started off with a 12th century clash between Kulothunga Chola and Rangaraja Nambi. The sets, the acting and the grip on the movie was stellar for the first 20 minutes. The first 20 minutes of the movie made one sit in a place and wonder about the next one. The camera here was awesome, especially the aerial shots. But why did they HAVE to sing THE PALLANDU verse in a wrong metre? The scene navigated to the tsunami aftermath and then each of the characters was introduced. There was no depth to any character other than Rangaraja Nambi and Dalit Kamal. Balram Naidu was outstanding of the lot. He was the lifeline of the movie. He evoked laughter, decently most of the time. The story proceeded with a virus escaping from a guarded lab in the US. Three of the characters chase the vial and the others are supportive to the chase, unknowingly. The vial explodes in the end leaving the virus. The virus needs a very common material – NaCl (common salt – sodium chloride) to destroy it. The tsunami occurs at around the same time as the virus leak. The amount of NaCl falling into the land because of the tsunami is enough to destroy the virus. It is upto the audience to guess whether God was responsible for it or something else was. 🙂 The hero and heroine start their romance in the end of the movie (why??…. because he was the hero and she was the heroine) near the idol (this was thrown into the sea by Kulothunga Chola. The idol was brought out into the land by the tsunami.)
Kamal has worked really hard, but the end product is mediocre. All of us can appreciate his dedication and devotion, blah blah blah but then we do not need to see a film like Dasavatharam to do that! Cinema is and has to be a team effort and not a one man show. Trying to to act hero by taking up things single handedly and working too hard is not a good idea and it hasnt helped either him or the tinsel world. Hopefully he will use all his skill and experience to channelise his efforts to make smarter movies henceforth.
Theme – Kamal’s regular "There is No God." (or is it no Hindu God???). Nothing new, nothing different, nothing else. I do not understand why he has to throw idols here and there without any sense. Anyways, it can be taken as a concept and appreciated by those who can.
Story – The story line was genuine. It is easily understandable.
Characters – More than 5 charcters not required. Dasa is a learning experience for any budding film maker – please dont put more than 2 characters of yourself in a film. Even a person like Kamal who has been in cinema for all his life hasnt been able to carry off all the ten characters with the same aplomb. Bush, the old day, the 12th century character, the tall muslim and the Singh were not required. Those characters were not played well either. Kamal talks about logical film making in every possible meet, but I want to honestly know how much logic there is in a 95 year old lady walking on top of people’s shoulders and running around!
Asin – as the 12th century character, she was very good. But as the 21st century girl, I was unable to stand her. I do not understand why in all Kamal movies, the heroine is wasted, at least Asin could have been used a flower poster girl but they have made an attempt to show her as a half mental. They have made sure that people get bored of her and do not want to see her on screen.
Mallika Sherawat – She serves her purpose as a translator (same role that she did for Jackie Chan at the audio release). :))))
Screen play – Intelligent screen play. Story telling is an art and each scene is very cleverly told. There are many goofs and many scenes which were not required but that apart the screen play is worth mentioning. Weaving a plot is not easy but it has been well thought out and well shot. Kamal has matured enough to make a screen play which people can follow. The gelling of Chaos Theory and Butterfly Effect was well done.
Make Up – No where close to Indian and Avvai Shanmugi. There is no finesse. The Japanese character make up was very good, it was unrecognizable. The Dalit character Vincent Bhoovaraghan’s make up was also excellent. But the others lacked in makeup and it showed – the tall muslim, the villain, the old lady make up was bad to say the least.
Special Effects – Nothing to boast about. There were better effects in Kadhalan, Indian and Sivaji. The Tsunami was bad and even the water did not look like water. We have seen the effects in Speed and Titanic and even in Indian movies. Dasa, for the two years in took could have been better.
Graphics – The parts when multiple Kamals were in the same screen were done really well. Apart from that nothing else is even worth thinking about.
Lighting and Cinematography – Brilliant work. The feel of the 12th century Kulothunga Chola reign, the colors and lighting was simply perfect. The cold of US and the heat of India, the sultry feeling of the Tsunami was felt through the lighting and the camera.
Direction – Directed by Kamal and not by KS. Lacks the typical KS punch and authority. It is very obvious that KS did not get the freedom to make his movie.
Comedy – Very Good. Naidu –> more decent comedy than typical Kamal movies. Naidu had me in splits. He held the movie together and made sure the audience did not get bored. The body language, the attire, the dialogue delivery, Kamal did what he does best – comedy. Every time Naidu appeared on screen there was a smile on everyone’s face. For every action that Naidu performed on screen, the reaction came from the audience. Thats what I feel acting is all about.
Dialogue – Nothing of special mention other than Naidu’s comedy.
Voices and Accents – The voice he adapted for the dalit character and for Rangaraja Nambi was splendid. He did not bother changing it for the others I think. The Dalit accent was pucca. But he faltered with the American English accent.
Re recording – If you would call what was in Dasa as rerecording or BGM or music, I pity your music sense. It was downright Bad. But with Himesh Reshmayya and Devi Sri Prasad, expecting anything else would have been wrong.
Art – Was very very nice. Meaningful things were present on the sets. The art of 12th century temple and sculptures was breath taking but apart from that, it was what it should be.
Nostalgia – Jayapradha was used for this and it brought about the olden day feel.
Others – Frankly, what was the point in depicting a 12th century Shaiva – Vaishnava clash? There is so much of clash going on now – Christian Muslim row in Chechenya and in NE India, Budhhist Christian Muslim row in China and SE Asia. Why doesnt Kamal have the guts to make films on real life problems that exist now? He made a movie on Shaiva Vaishnava clash and threw around Hindu Idols because getting away with it is easy. Let me see him make a film by throwing around other religious idols or atleast the photograph of any politician. He excels in playing with Hindu sentiments ALWAYS to convey his ideas.
On the whole, I feel the movie is worth watching once, and dont go expecting anything.