Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dasavatharam.. An intricately carved design

It's time I donned the garbs of a critique yet again. Thankfully, in the recent past, not many movies had moved past benchmark required to make me think about writing a note on it. If you had been a regular follower of my reviews, you would even suspect me to be a very captious critic. But then, so is the nature of the job and I am but a faithful follower of the decalogue pertinent to this fraternity. No suprises, this time around friends, this is going to be another abstract set of observations from Kamal's latest flick, Dashavatharam. The first feel that you get immediately after the movie is that of vacuum, not awe, just the general feeling of discomfiture at the hanging pieces of screenplay that you had just witnessed.

The crux of the movie revolves around the well known Chaos theory, in particular the Butterfly effect (Chaos theory ). With such a dicey concept as the baseline, it has to be agreed that Kamal has done a remarkable job of constituting a story out of it. The entire movie is based on the conceptual premises of the cause-effect system. Kamal has done a excellent job in the characterisation of all the ten different roles that he dons. However, it should also be mentioned that some of the roles could have been a mere fabrication to increase the count to 10. If you think it is just a ploy to justify the title, then I'd ask you to read further through the post, just in case your thought needed a revision.

The actor in Kamal has done a resplendent job with regards to the acting, appearace, demanour and dialogue delivery. The job is more than merely well done, it is a class act. Each of the character is distinct, beautifully accented, cleverly masked and well placed. Among the flurry of characters, Nambi, Fletcher, Naidu, Shingen Narahashi and Poovaraghan deserves special mention. The character of Naidu which combines intelligence with wit, accentuates the comical flavour in the movie. Nambi is the epitome of "Bhakthi" with all the characteristics of a blindly devout man. Fletcher dons the most important role for any movie, the villain. Action and comedy are given their due respect and are magnificiently executed. Of course, there are a couple of places where you would still find the hero flying the air and doing somersaults, which are so much an integral part of South Indian movies. All things said and done, you would still feel a couple of characters to be a mere count incrementors. For Non-Kamal fans, the number might be a tad Kamal-Overkill.

The movie is extremely fast paced with Fletcher giving Govid the chase until the end. Thankfully, there are no redundant comedy track that runs between the story line. Neither do we have any dream sequences or songs that seem out of place with plot of the story. The BGM are neat and cleanly done. However the songs are quite unlike the traditional South Indian ones that you would expect from such movies, they definitely show traces of Modern North Indian touch that one cna hear blaring across the street. The most common comment that I have heard from people who watched id was "Disconnects". Yes, the movie definitely doesn't provide you with the connects but leaves it to open interpretation. Which brings me to tell you what I had interpreted (there were some perceptions that aren't mine, the ones that I couldn't connect to).

As I had initially mentioned, the key to perceive the connection in the story is the chaos theory. A set of seemingly insignificant events contributing to a much larger phenomenon. Similarly, a set of distinct, insignigicant characters contributing to a greater cause of saving the world from a bio-chemical infection. The scientist, Govind comes across so many characters and forms a part of the intricate pattern which conspires to bring the plot into effect. To follow a simple chain, Govind got knocked off the railings to fall into the package that went to India. He meets the mentally unstable lady, Krishnaveni paati, who drops the infectious vial into the idol. Comes Shingen, who, for the sake of revenge protects Govind. Similarly, all the characters in one way or the other, knowingly or unknowingly helps Govind's cause. It fairly conforms to the chaos theory that we have seen earlier. Kamal has also touched the concept of re-incarnation in the form of Govind and Nambi, if you had noticed the similarities among the two characters including a scar in the forehead :). Asin's dual portrayal is just another allusion to the same fact. The concept of Karma has also been dealt with deftly. In the previous life, Asin was ready to give up God for the sake of her husband's life whereas Nambi was too attached to let go off. In the later life, they swap places where Kamal says, "It would have been great if God were there". Also they re-unite in the same place where they were separated, another implication of the chaos theory and circular pattern of events. The idol that was immersed ignobly into the ocean wedged itself between the tectonic plates triggering the Tsumani at the easiest provocation of the phenomenon. Another instance of the chaos theory.

The ten characters in the story can be roughly mapped to the mythological dasavatharams by Lord Vishnu. Some of the most obviously visible juxtapositions are

* Kalki - Govind, the humanitarian out to save the world.
* Balarama - the name is indicative enough, Balaram Naidu.
* Matsya - Nambi, who went into the ocean with his Lord's idol.
* varaha - Krishnaveni paati who hides the vial inside the idol.
* Rama - Avtar singh who is ever devoted to his wife, ready to sacrifice his voice for his wife.
* Krishna - The dark complexioned, compassionate Poovaraghan says it all. Like Lord Krishna, he dies due to a foot injury!
* Parasurama - Fletcher, who else ?? :). A killing machine, just like Parasurama whose purpose was to eliminate the Kshatriyas.
* Narasimha - The name Shingen Narahashi, does it ring a bell ?
* vamana- Kalifulla who is as gigantic as the Vamana ?

Well, these are just some interpretations that I managed to secure from various sources and the choice is upto you to reject them. As you can see, there is a lot more than mere screenplay and fast paced action that you can see obviously in the movie. I would really not know if these facts were introduced into the movie consciously, but if it were, Kudos to Kamal !! If not, perhaps, yet another example of chaos theory ! ;-)


Anonymous said...

Excellent Post!!! Enjoyed what you have written...


Mighty Titan said...

Thanks for your encouraging words !


Ramesh said...

machi sorry for being factious.. You ve mentioned that the idol fell inbetween the tectonic plates creating a tension which would erupt i the early 2000s.. but according to facts, the buttings of tectonic plates are found around the indian ocean... so there is no way that the idol fell in the buttings...

a small technical flaw.. but Kamal should have expected that the intelligence of people who knew about tectonic plates will also know about their layout on our planet..

Mighty Titan said...


Absolutely agreed with you on this point. The tectonic plates anywhere near india are indeed placed too far away than the sighting distance as shown in the movie! However, all said and done, this would definitely not be perceivable to the common viewer.

அக்னிபாரதி said...

The movie was great. But I have a feeling, it might have been much much better, if it had the seriousness of say, 'Hey Ram'. The comedy (or more correctly put humour) with Balram Naidu, Khalifulla, Broadway Kumar, etc kind of played down the gravity of the virus and its impact.

Poovaragan was the very best in my opinion. The accent was perfect. But what makes him the winner is the intensity of the role. Fiery and explosive. I don't remember him dying from a wound in the leg - I thought he drowned because the lock of the car's door got jammed.

Fletcher was good - typical American action movie villain. His accent and body language were impressive. His entry was what really made me sit up in the theatre.

Krishnaveni's acting seemed to be slightly off. Kamal seemed a bit too energetic for the role of such an old lady. The final dance sequence where she 'shakes the booty' was obnoxious.

While not really a necessary character, Shingen was very very good. I loved the intro scene for him as well - felt like a typical Bruce Lee movie. The 'Remember Hiroshima/Pearl Harbour' dialogue could have been completely avoided in my opinion.

Khalifulla is probably more of a cosmetic and special effects marvel than anything else. The voice modulation is impressive.

Bush, well, it's just indulgence. The Rajni style walk at the end evoked laughter in the theatre, but at the end, it seemed overdone.

BalRam Naidu was amazing. The typical Telugu patriotism (which my girl denies very patriotically! ;-) ) and the Raoda Raova joke was amusing.

No comments on Govinda Rajan - he's the mainstay character, but nothing really amazing. Plain old hero character.

Now that brings us to possibly the best acting in the entire movie. Rangarajan Nambi. Kamal could have possibly just shot that sequence where he utters 'Om Namo Narayana' and dropped the entire movie after that. That is acting buddy - the rest, including this movie and any other movie is just gimmicks. :-)

And here's the trunk shot image that I told you about. :-)


அக்னிபாரதி said...

Oh and forgot about Avtar Singh (which reflects on the character itself! :-) ). Cavorting with Jayaprada on screen and the emotional scene in the hospital seemed too melodramatic for me. (I mean, one second you see Jaya with her face wrung with anxiety and the next second she is dancing with Kamal?) But the dance video was interesting - it looked like a typical awards function video that you see on T.V., not like it were part of a movie. The quality of that footage wass different and a perfect fit!

Mighty Titan said...


Wow! First up, thanks for your detailed comments and opinions. As you had rightly mentioned, one does get a feel that there were a couple of characters too much in the movie. Krishnaveni, Bush, Kalifulla to an extent were quite just the boost to number 10. But even there, Kamal's acting was quite apt. :)


PS. the trunk shot synopsis was awesome !