Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dasavatharam - Review

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I usually don't write a review of a movie. Three simple reasons: 1) The movie is not so impressive or I have nothing new to add to what has been said already 2) I don't watch movies often(yup! I'm NOT a movie fan. If I watch five movies in a theatre in a year, my family and friends would be so surprised because I just don't watch them in theatres!) 3) I usually thrash out a movie with friends or family after watching it(usually, my sister ends up being the scapegoat where she would patiently listen to me analyzing each scene and each angle of the story. Sometimes its good(like in Gajini), sometimes its bad(like in Om Shanti Om) but all the time,its interesting!) But now that I'm stuck in S____ and the first condition got satisfied, here goes the review of Dasavatharam.

Basically, its a good movie but turns bad and then worse as more and more masala is added to it. Kamal is a versatile actor, there is no doubt in it. But he has tried to do too much in the movie. He has discussed everything from politics to religion to science to what not!!!??? Even in each of these categories, he has taken pains to cover each part(or atleast a sliver of each part). For example, in politics, he has used Bush(yup! the very same American president), Dr.ManMohan Singh(yeah, our Indian prime minister), both our CMs(now and then). I fully expected him to bring in or atleast talk about all the problems of the world(like sand burglary). Thankfully he stopped with this array. In religion, he made sure he covered the Saivites, the Vaishnavites(two major sects of Hinduism), Christianity and finally Islam. In science, he went all the way from Biology to Chemistry. And he added the Japanese guy for .........? For what? To create a fan club for him in Japan(just because Rajini has one)?

I like each of the characters that Kamal portrays(I bow for his excellence in acting, but that's about it. I know I might draw flak from Kamal fans but this is my opinion and this is a free world! So, no comments on this statement please!) but my favorite character is Mr.Balram. He is so natural and the character fits Kamal like a glove. The ones with Bush, the old lady(who incidentally likes rose milk and reminded me of the glorious days of summer break where I did nothing but drink rose milk, play in the hot sun, eat icecream and finish a story book a day! Sigh! Now, I just can't imagine a summer like that any more in my life!), Kallif Ulla, Fletcher(Man! Terminator in tamil ;)) were kind of artificial and showed too well that it was pure makeup. It reminded me of someone wearing a mask and acting. Guess the field of makeup hasn't grown to such a level as to what Kamal expects. But its a good effort! And the Vincent character is good as well but it could have been given more screen space. About the first Ramanuja Daasan, his acting was good if a bit too theatrical.

About the story, there was nothing much in it, right from the beginning. It reminded me of some novel where every character hurries every minute only to leave the reader wondering why all this hurry. Similarly, here, the reason to hurry was not captured and delivered properly to the viewer (unlike Kaaka Kaaka or Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu where the viewer can understand the urgency within a scene!) Here, everyone seems to rush all the time but there is no deep meaning for it all. A short version of the story is that Kamal discovers a virus that can kill everyone in minutes and leave the Earth barren and his boss decides to sell it to terrorists. After a melee(I'll tell you, it was neither hilarious nor gripping! It was similar to Race, the movie where it was confusions galore), Kamal reaches Chidambaram followed by Fletcher(another Kamal, the villain) followed by Balram (another Kamal, the ubiquitous law man) followed by a Japanese(God knows why this guy is there in the movie because all he does is to come on in in the end and fight Fletcher, which Kamal himself could have done(given that loads of tamil heroes manage to do it with ease) Or maybe he was aiming to keep the movie natural? Only Kamal should tell) where he meets Asin(who, by the way, is portrayed as a staunch Vaishnavite and says "Perumaalae!"(Lord's name) every minute. But this turns irritating after some time.) and her granny(another Kamal). Now a chase begins where everyone chases in the above given order and finally Tsunami comes to finish up the unfinished business of the humans.

Now on to why I think the movie can't go into must watch list. Simply put, the movie doesn't give time to the viewer to actually get into the story. It starts in US, then chases begin, then moves to India, then chases go on, then climax. What IS happening? A lady before me in the theatre actually asked her husband this question! LOL!

Secondly, each character has been etched too hurriedly and everyone jostles for screen space with the result that no one gets enough to do justice to their roles and finally confuse everyone(now what was the Muslim family doing in the movie? Too many extra characters like that! It reminds me of "I want a share in the apple pie" story and finally everyone gets a crumb and no one is satisfied!). Even Asin seems to have been added to each scene rather than being part of the story flow. Atleast there should have been some good scenes between Kamal and Asin. It finally looked like they kept running all the time and he fights to save her and everyone thinks they go together and she falls in love even though his principles about God are the exact opposite to what she believes. I can take some amount of comedy, but this is atrocious!! Also, talking about life and love in a superficial manner when tsunami has struck is all the more comical!! Maybe that is why they didn't have a separate comedy track in the movie? Its so cruel to use Mallika Sherawat as done in the movie and kill her even before she tries to act(now you can't blame her for poor acting if her character gets killed after a song and a few other shots, can you?)

Third, some of the characters are so out-of-storyish that I just feel that they have been added to the story just to add another character to Kamal's doable characters list(like Avtaar Singh, Fulla, etc). Fourth, there are loads of double entendres in the movie and its kind of difficult to explain kids as to why the audience laugh for a particular sentence when they don't find anything odd or funny in it. I know that it is expected in a Kamal movie (in any movie nowadays, for that matter) but this one had loads(or is my movie watching skills so low that I don't know the present count/trend? If so, I feel sad for the present teens and pre-teens. They have work cut out for them in keeping their innocence and enjoying childhood and adolescence as much as they can)

Finally, I feel as if they've assumed that every person who watches this movie doesn't have basic sense and would accept everything that is dished out as a movie(just because we pay $20 doesn't mean we have to accept all the crap that is given right? Or is it that we are expected to keep our common sense at home when we go to watch movies? This, especially, disappoints me in this movie! I expected better from Kamal Haasan's movie). Example: the bullet from Fletcher's gun hits the cancerous growth in Avtaar Singh's throat and cures him of cancer without need for surgery while miraculously saving his voice and keeping everything else intact. Nalla kaathula poo sutharaangayaa!!

All said and done, this movie is watchable once but not more than once unless you are a film student and want to know how to act even with a makeup mask on you. This is a simple case of "Too many cooks spoiled the broth". Too many things said in three short hours made sure nothing reached the audience, or at best a garbled message reaches them. Want to know how to etch each character and still do something like acting 10 roles in one movie? Watch Navarathri by Sivaji Ganesan. Now, that is a movie! The lead actress(Savithri (thanks for pointing the error, G!)) leaves home on day one of Navrathri and meets eight different Sivajis and returns home on the tenth day to marry the ninth one. Every character adds some meaning to the movie and there is a good flow in the storyline. And each character, ranging from the inspector to the doctor to the skit maker to the terminal patient, has been done so perfectly and is so amazing. We just can't say that one character has been given more attention than the other or has been protrayed better than the rest. Everything was so good and it was all done with lesser makeup! I guess that is why Sivaji is still considered to be among the best of the best when it comes to acting and Kamal is still trying to reach there!

16 comments:

Ashwath said...

Sir, I liked your viewpoint and agree that "too many cooks spoiled the broth". sans the masala the movie wont go well with local audiences. The animated butterfly which traverses from one screen to another (indirectly portraying Butterfly effect)..but hw many of us know about that...

in the end i feel, Kamal got fooled thinking the local audience as too intelligent to digest something as complex as this...

but nevertheless i liked his effort and dedication to do something out-of-the-box.

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

the lead actress of Navaratri was savithri not Padmini !!!


My personal opinion is kamal is light years ahead of sivaji's theatrical style of over acting.I speak strictly for myself.,Kamal is by far India's best,include likes of nassar,Nasirudddiun Shah,Mohanlal and oru very own rajini(yeah,his yesteryear movies still will give any trained actor goosebumps,gosh!!Only if they had left rajini alone..that story for another day!!)

Coming to the movie review itself,I havent watched it and dont plan to watch it now.Thanks for the spoliers.It seems that this movie is neither a HeyRam nor a Sakalakala vallavan.I like the Extremes !!!

Btw,OSO was a very very good movie.It was a sincere,Masala.The best masala in a while.Who asked you to expect a movie wid common sense from SRK.That is a different genre.U need to take tips from wat to expect and wat not to...

I totally understand ur anger tat kamal delivered a so-called Dud.I am also so disappointed :( .India's best,he still is ..!!!

alpine path said...

Ashwath, very true! All of Kamal's movies are good but they are too much for normal audience(Some of his films like Avvai Shanmugi, Panchathanthiram, Magalir Mattum, etc were just right :)). And I think that is where he fails(and Rajini scores) despite his brilliant talent and sheer performances(Eg: Hey Ram, Aalavandhaan, etc). I appreciate his work in this movie but am really sad that it doesn't have a strong storyline to back it up. Thanks for your comments and welcome aboard!

Superficial gibbering prater, Kamal is a great actor but Sivaji brought out each character's nuances very well in that movie! I hate his theatrical stuff but his work in Navrathri was just brilliant. And I don't think Kamal did justice to each character he portrayed in Dasavatharam. Yup! if you go to the movie looking for extremes, you'll get it if your extreme criteria is "too many things in the story". Else it would be difficult to get your expectation satisfied. About OSO, I know SRK gives non-common sensical movies but this was way off limit!!! And that is why I crib about it as well. And I know that you would be angered too if you watch this movie. Lets hope for the next Kamal movie to be good and worth all the wait. This one certainly wasn't. :(

alpine path said...

superficial gibbering prater, thanks for pointing out the Savithri vs Padmini mistake :) I've changed it in the post too. This is what happens when you write a post late in the night. What a sleepy head I was that night! Good that you caught it :)

Lava said...

Hey,
Good review. You covered almost all the points. I wounder what was the need for the function that is organised in the Nehru Stadium which i shown in the first and the last frame of the movie. The dialogues are good but after sometime they become irritating. Kamal thought he would become a Crazy mohan - writing dialogues like Panchathantiram - but this is not a movie in the genre of Pancha... I still do not know what genre should i put this movie. The effort and dedication is simply commandable. We can see this movie once!

alpine path said...

Lava, thanks! I think Kamal should stick to acting and leave the dialogue to experts like Crazy Mohan. Looked as if Kamal ran out of ideas when he penned Asin's dialogue. She just kept saying "Perumaalae!" ALL the time!!!

shiva said...

"I can take some amount of comedy, but this is atrocious!! Also, talking about life and love in a superficial manner when tsunami has struck is all the more comical!!" - spot on!

It is nothing hut a comedy of epic proportions!

And the part about double meaning dialogues - so true, every movie has it these days, another sad thing happening to tamil cinema.

alpine path said...

Shiva, thanks! Nowadays there are so many forwards on mails about why Dasavatharam is good and all that. I totally accept that it is a good movie basically but it has got so many bad points that it becomes a bad movie. Further, had it been done by someone else, it might even not brought such reactions from the viewers. But from Kamal, we expect higher quality and standards and that is why everyone is so pissed off. I still can't imagine Kamal could give such a movie, a movie that was touted to be a competitor for Rajini's Shivaji. This might not be totally related to your comment but I felt I had to add these views as an afterthought.

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

a quick update:: WAtched the movie ..night show yesterday..couldnt resist the temptation..

I ahve to say ...was very entertaining and racy...Prolly if u can forget tat the same person gave heyram,anbae sivam,devar magan and the like,u can enjoy this movieLots of things to enjoy and savour in teh movie.

....Asin was not as bad as u made her out to be :P

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

forgot to say..it was infinitely better than gajini..But u have a right to being stupid in ur choice of movies ..so do I :)

Ps::I am a kamal hassan fan... :)

alpine path said...

Superficial Gibbering prater, true! As I had said in the earlier comment, this movie could have been accepted and even appreciated(by a few people atleast) had it come from some lesser talented people. But since it is Kamal, we expect lots more from him and are shocked when he resorts to such films. Not having capacity to give a great film and producing such a film is different from having the capacity to do better and yet producing such a film, right? Also, Asin really didn't have much dialogues other than her "Perumalae!". The rest, I really don't want to comment on :D The Gajini example was how good the result of thrashing a story with my sister was and not how good/bad the movie was. And, about exercising the right to stupid movies, Ahem!!

austere mind said...

Good review!
Even I felt the same.

@prater: I wouldn't say Ghajini was the best movie I saw, but it was not chaotic like this one. It was absorbing and intereting. Memento was far better than Ghajini but for an Indian movie Ghajini was better of the lot. And ofcourse, Asin was awesome there ;)

"My personal opinion is kamal is light years ahead of sivaji's theatrical style of over acting"

You need to consider the timeline of the actors as well! You can't compare sivaji with kamal, Sivaji is a class act. If sivaji was here today, he would have out-performed kamal!

But I agree with you on OSO. ;) Most part of OSO was just fun and it was a rocking entertained!

vissu said...

I almost felt like i was seeing the movie, though i haven't seen it yet. My geographical location and my monotonous job schedule haven't allowed me to watch any movies lately. That was a very critical review covering almost all the facets. For the sake of being a kamal's fan, i would definetly watch the movie.

alpine path said...

austere mind, thanks! My point exactly about Sivaji. He gave what the customers(the film goers of that time loved overacting and he delivered that) wanted. A good businessman ;) And yeah! OSO was LOL! :D

vissu, thanks and welcome aboard! You can and should watch that movie once but keep your expectations lower. I guess that was one mistake on my part. I was carried away by all the hype about this movie competing with Rajini's Shivaji and had high expectations. Expectedly, the movie failed to satisfy them. But its a good watch, for one time, especially for Kamal's dedication and hard work.

shree said...

"Dasavatharam" is one of the best movie in Tamil industry. A movie that doesnot talk about love between the hero and heroine and there are no regular scenes of the hero going behind the heroine trying to impress her and then get married in the end. This is a scientific movie according to me which talks about what is likely to happen in the future. It doesnot convey any msg against god.The movie begins with kamal as a priest in the 12th century and slowly builds up the whole thing. The ten characters in the movie are amazing. Kamal Hassan has taken care to such an extent that there is a clear cut difference between the ten characters. Each character is portrayed beautifully with their own style of talking,body language and character. The best character that I liked was that of the VILLIAN KAMAL--Chris Fletcher who rules the movie alltogether. His presence and point and his character is shown well. He even kills his wife when he comes to know that she cant help him anymore. He is a person a selfish man who wants what he is actually searching for. Not even in one scene anybody can see him losing hope or something like that. He is stubborn to get what he wants inspite of the danger that it would cause to the human population. He was even ready to eat it than let it go with the hero kamal Govind. The story is the highlight that has made the impact in making the movie a big success and the songs are picturised beautifully and the music is fantastic..

Its only KAMAL HASSAN who can make the world look at him....

Kamal "You are a man born doing different things. You are actually a scientist"

Hats off to the hard work that you have put in this movie..

Ur hardwork has been paid....

alpine path said...

shree, I totally agree that Kamal has worked hard for this movie. And I appreciated him for that in my post. But tell me, how many people would be able to connect with the "scientific story" as you yourself have said? If this movie is judged based on Kamal's hardwork, true, the movie is exemplary. But if a movie is to be judged on its story, how well the audience can connect to it, how realistic it is, etc. then this movie doesn't score. True, it shows that there is some connection between all the events, but trying to bring in the tsunami to finish off the bioweapon, in my opinion, is total gibberish and I certainly expected Kamal's movie to be more realistic. Had it been someone else, it would be accepted because they are not a film genius like Kamal is. The fact that he chose to give such a story(without any reality in the sequences) is what is shocking! To get an idea about reality, try "anbae sivam", another of Kamal's movies. Now, that was a realistic movie.