Jun 29, 2008


Dasavatharam was my third choice after finding out 'Indiana Jones' and 'Sex and the City' were sold out. I wonder if that somehow disqualifies me from writing a review. But whatever my lofty opinions about Kamal and Dasavatharam may be, I decided to watch the movie with an open mind.

Why would any actor want to play ten characters in a movie? It does not seem like a great testament of one's acting ability. After all whether you play ten or a hundred, each one has to be studied and expressed with sensitivity and intelligence. Once you look at it from that angle the ten characters seem to be an unnecessary distracting circus that Kamal doesn't need. It is a bit of a surprise he still feels he needs such gimmicks to show off his acting caliber. Or perhaps he felt he needed it to win in the box office.

The much acclaimed Nambi was a disappointment for me. I felt the character was contrived and over-acted. So was Govind and the other forgettable avatars. If not for the Telugu police officer , Poovaragan, and the grandma, the movie would have been a disaster. Forgetting for a minute the mis-placed accent, Kamal shows what a great actor he is when he plays the character Poovaragan. The sensitivity, the moral anger , the love for the language, the greatness of the character shines through memorably in Kamal's voice and expressions. The grandma and the police officer are equally hilarious.

But at the end of the day these characters are only there for one purpose. To show what a great actor Kamal is. And that is where it all starts tumbling down. There is no depth to most of the characters Kamal plays and the characters played by others are completely cardboardish, for want of a better word. It clearly shows a failure on the part of the screenplay writer to care about even his heroine.

That brings me to the puzzle of the story and screenplay. Let us set aside for a moment the story and the movie exist only to showcase "World-hero" Kamal. After all there is also the intellectual screenplay and story writer Kamal.

Kamal seems undecided on what he wanted to say. Why bring this whole story to imply even the tsunami must have had a purpose and then backtrack by having the lead character express skepticism to that idea? That too somewhat carelessly and callously. I could see his intellectual side would be horrified to take a stand where that question is even given some serious thought. But that is what the story stands for. At the end of the day, according to this story, if the tsunami had not happened more lives would have been lost.

This movie is not serious enough to ponder a profound question like that and it seems pretentious at best. Or was the purpose of the movie as Kamal pompously states at the beginning of the movie about chaos theory? If we were to look at movies like Babel the connections are seamless and believable. Perhaps they are unlikely but still they could happen and that is what makes such movies interesting. Here again in Dasavatharam, everything seems contrived lik the bullet that 'operates' Avatar Singh.

Kamal tries to be too intelligent. Tries to prove a point. He tries too hard, period. And that I think is the movie's biggest handicap.

As for the make-up I would prefer the blond, white Shivaji any day to Fletcher.

June 29, 2008