Friday, June 27, 2008
"Ulaga Nayagane....", "Ula.....ga ....Naya...gane..", "U.....l ......a....g....a...", was I hearing an echo in my head? I never claimed to have much grey matter anyway, but strangely that space felt much more hollow than it had been 3 hours before. But by God’s grace I survived. Yes, to think of it I even recovered from the near ‘brain dead’ scenario when I saw K.S Ravikumar jump onto the screen!!! I swear at that very moment my mind was nearly numbed into permanent silence. Not that this scenario would have radically changed the course of mankind, but nevertheless would have vindicated the ‘Chaos Theory’ propounded earlier on the movie – ‘A movie made in one corner of the world would have an adverse effect on a poor student watching it in far away Milton Keynes’.
Frankly, it took me not a few hours, but a few days to digest the “Dasavatharam experience” and muster enough courage to recount my experience to the esteemed reader. So, where do I start my friend? Do I start with the Nambi the 12th century Thambi?
[Start of Kamal voice] “Ivarodaye kathaikum, naan solla pora kathaikum, entha sambandhamum illayae. Neengal kekavitalum naan athay solla than poren” [End of Kamal voice].
A simple and terse translation would be ‘this character has nothing to do with the movie’. Ok so “Nambi the dude” is a superman cum idealist, preferring to die rather than abandon his faith. He has to endure a lot, including some very lousy acting by all those around him, notably, his over-sized son, his hysterical wife and not to forget the Chola King, who speaks a few lines between his pervert-ish grins and sign language communication. But at this point the viewer feels something major is coming his way. Yup, you bet it does, but after a ‘short’ gap of 9 centuries.
Fast forward to present day……The focus is on Govind the bio-chemical guru. He is the chosen one, the dude who is going to save the world. Govind is thrust into the limelight after a monkey, ends up monkeying around with a very deadly vial. This vial could potentially end the human race (the movie comes a close second though), so this is not the typical ‘vial-um vazhvum’ type of thing (Sorry I couldn’t control myself from getting that PJ in). Visualise Govind mimicking zee American accent. Well if that image was bad enough, we also have a Japanese chick who speaks Tamizh in the most nasal of any tone that I have ever heard before. Anyway Govind is all over the place - from Washington to Chidambaram and he is always on the run. Surely Govind can secure a gold medal for India in the Beijing games, as he would easily outrun any of the marathon champions from Ethiopia.
Balaram Naidu, is a top investigator. Without an iota of doubt this character is the only saving grace of the movie. Kudos to Kamal on this role!! His comic timing is exceptional. ‘Appa Rao, RAW, ..’series, the scene where he meets a guy called Narasimha Rao etc. makes you laugh heartily. Naidu is there for most part of the movie and provides unlimited entertainment.
Avtaar Singh, is a pop singer from Punjab, who belts out ‘allegedly’ popular tunes in Tamizh too. Punjabi pop singer, singing Tamizh songs…uhmmm, well if Udith Narayan can do it, so can good old Avtaar – “Rawk it baby”. Avtaar is a passionate singer and sings despite spewing a lot of pan err… sorry blood all over the stage (I guess that’s what you term as a ‘Blood on the dance floor’ performance). Only a miracle can cure Avtaar, and well that’s exactly what happens (in fact anything could have happened in this movie, hence the miraculous cure doesn’t quite come across as a miracle).
Next up, we have Vincent, a social activist. He makes a dramatic entry in the movie and quite inadvertently saves the heroine's honour. Kamal’s performance in this role is powerful, but how does it link up with the movie beyond the dramatic entry is a mystery. In any case this mystery is a matter that would hardly interest you, given the chaos that already is and is to come further on in the movie.
As Kalifulla Khan a.k.a Baby, Kamal makes a big physical impression but leaves much to be desired in terms of the role. Though a few scenes involving this character are funny, he really could have done much much more.
And Kamal, plays yet another role, as Krishnaveni - a senile old lady. Don’t form a mental image of Avai Shanmugi type of lady role here. in fact it is as far from it as you can get. Really don’t know what the point of this role was, well not that the other 9 roles had any sense of purpose about them, but this one was just there to make up the numbers I suppose.
With 7 down and 3 more to go, we now we move into the international section. Yup, Kamal plays ‘Dubya’man, a Japanese martial arts guru and a terminator style villain. The villain role is the best of the international lot. Fletcher does for the most part come across as a ruthless killer, who would do anything to have his way. The Japanese character Shingen-San is in fact a complete non-sanse (nonsense). He exchanges a few absurd lines with the villain, the most notable of them being ‘Remember Pearl Harbour’, everything else that the ‘quiet one’ speaks is in Japanese (or so I presume). Last but not the least, is Kamal as George W Bush. Bush does a few swashbuckling ‘Thalivar’ type moves, and well that’s about it. A role that could well have been avoided.
To cut a long story short, 'Michael Madana Kamarajan' had just 4 characters, no hi-fi make up and stuff, but Kamal proved his brilliance and delivered a classic that our generation can never forget. In 10 roles and at probably 100 times the cost of Michael Madana Kamarajan, Dasavatharam fails to create an impression, let alone a lasting impact.