Saturday June 21, 2008

Dasaavathaaram (K.S.Ravikumar)

Posted by Karthik

Dasaavathaaram is a movie experience meant for people who are familiar with Kamal Hasan and his body of work. If you are not one of them, this exhausting exercise in multi-tasking may be laughably silly.

This may be the very first movie on chaos theory/ butterfly effect in India and the basic premise works quite well too. The populist idea of tying up the Tsunami as the necessary counter for something far more deadly is a plot point that works like a charm – though, the scenes that build this premise perhaps required a more explicit construction, for the benefit of the Indian audience.

The 12th century prologue, albeit short, is massy and mesmerizing. The American roles of Kamal Hasan (George Bush and the unstoppable killing machine, Fletcher) are, quite frankly, tacky. While it may seem like nitpicking, the prosthetics seem to completely miss the skin tone and border on albinism, quite unfortunately. Balram Naidu’s crowd-pleasing role is, well, crowd-pleasing, as intended. The man is on a roll expounding the cause of Telugu.

The Japanese avatar is obviously forced, but thankfully looks much better than its American counterparts. Khalifullah Khan is simply the worst – in terms of prosthetics, character and scope. Amongst the two other brief roles, Vincent Poovaraagan’s make-up is quite appropriate and the actor has visibly and vocally done his job well. The Krishnaveni paatti role is as laboriously silly as Sukanya’s prosthetics in Indian.

Avtaar Singh’s garb looks convincing and his stage antics in the Oh oh sanam song is vintage Kamal. His cancer treatment is straight out of a Rajinikant parody, however. Asin’s only dialog seems to be ‘Perumaale’ and she merely reprises her hapless, sprightly role in Ghajini, against a visibly older and tired looking Kamal in the role of Govind, the ‘terrific scientist/ scientific terrorist’ as Balram Naidu puts it. Mallika Sherawat is wasted – and this comment may seem like a stretch given the fact that its corollary has never really happened.

For a plot this serious, the surrounding situations are mostly juvenile – something director KS Ravikumar is known for, unlike his ambitious peer, Shankar, whose screenplay displays a certain polish, thanks to his association with writer Sujatha. But, considering Kamal Hasan is in charge of the screenplay, this is a surprise. The inclusion of Crazy Mohan styled gags are enjoyable to an extent, but tend to become tedious since they’re overdone at various points in the movie.

Technically, the film amazes with a scale hitherto not seen in Indian films. But, while the scale and even the scope seem huge, the execution, even in the much talked about Tsunami scenes, lack the finesse you associate with a relentless perfectionist like Kamal Hasan. To be fair, they are incredible for an Indian movie, but when the ambition is of the scale of ‘Ulaga Naayagan’ (Universal Hero), the comparison may be appropriate with The Day After Tomorrow and The Perfect Storm, not necessarily from those in Hindi, Tamil or Telugu film industries.

The songs by Himesh Reshammiya thankfully end abruptly and are one of the weakest points in a film of this scale. Devi Sri Prasad, however, seems to have imbibed the nature of the script rather well and has done his homework of watching as many Hollywood films as is humanly possible. The dialogs are thoughtful and on target in most places, specifically in places where the actor propagates his pet topic – atheism!

The beginning of the film, with a stage set-up where Govind starts to narrate the story and the ending when the director excitedly and irresponsibly goes on a hero-worship jig seem to indicate to the audience that this elaborate effort isn’t meant for the serious, discerning side of the audience. For an audience that is more open, willing to suspend disbelief and is aware of Kamal Hasan’s penchant for such experimentation, this film is a veritable feast. Too many cooks, of course. But, what the heck, this is world cuisine and every diverse ingredient adds to the rollicking fun! So immersed are we in the assorted avatars of this actor, that towards the end of the film, the person in the adjacent seat suddenly starts to resemble Kamal Hasan in a miraculous new garb!

Keywords: Kamal Hassan, Asin, Mallika Sherawat, Jayaprada, dasavatharam, dasaavatharam, dasavathaaram

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