Friday, June 20, 2008

Nuances in Dasavatharam

Having reviewed the movie after watching it for the first time, I decided to watch it once more casting aside my expectations. I found the movie more entertaining and I was able to appreciate the subtle gimmickry much better.

My focus was completely on Kamalhassan, the actor. I blocked out everything else and I was amazed at the sheer virtuosity of the talent exhibited by the actor. Every frame in the movie features multiple avatars of Kamalhassan and at no point do you get the feeling that all the actores aren't sharing the same screen space. The perfect timing that he displays coupled with his wonderful reactive abilities has taken the movie to an awesome level.

Each avatar is characterised by a different gait, diction and body mannerisms. You could call it method acting at its best. It would be easy for an actor to get bogged down being under layers of make-up (as it so happened with Ajith in Citizen). In spite of the restrictive facial layer, he makes his eyes speak volumes and the degree of control his facial muscles exhibit over the make-up is something to be seen to be believed.

Kamal plays the 10 roles with so much ease that he makes us feel that it may not be the same actor playing the 10 roles. Special mention must be given for the portrayal of the RAW agent Balram Naidu (with his Telegu accent) and the CIA agent Fletcher (with his American diction nailed to perfection).

The stunts have been superbly choreographed especially the one featuring the Japanese martial arts expert and the CIA agent towards the movie finale. While each portion featuring an actor was separately shot, the end result makes up for a really fantastic kung fu battle. I am not sure as to how many CG effects were used to render the fight scene but Kamal does come off as extremely agile and I guess some credit must go to the cinematography / choreography team for the picturising it the way they did.

Being a Kamal fan, the review may seem biased but having been critical about the movie in my original review, I tried to only look at the positive points this time. While some (including me) may crib about the necessity of Kamal portraying the 10 characters, one cannot argue about the vision need to bring such a script on screen. The technical team behind Dasavatharam has easily set a benchmark for Indian cinema and this is step in a positive direction towards taking Indian cinema to greater heights.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Dasavatharam - Movie review (Tamil, 2008)

Finally, Dasavatharam is out. Reading all the media reports gives an indication towards to kind of bumper opening the movie has taken. Obviously a lot of effort has gone into the movie and it is visible in every frame. Has all the effort translated into on screen success? Read further.

The story is as simple as it can get. It's start-to-end chase movie. A bio-tech company in the US has developed a synthetic bio-weapon. Fearing that the weapon will fall into bad hands, the hero (Kamal in one of his avatars) pockets it and takes off while being chased by a ex-CIA agent, RAW agent while running into a host of characters such as a pop singer, 90 year grandma, a dalit social activist, a tall Muslim, a Japanese kung fu expert and ofcourse George Bush. Another character played by Kamalhassan is that of Rangarajan nambi where he plays an ardent vaishnavite priest

While the actor in Kamalhassan admirably performs the job, it's in the role of scriptwriter that he fails. The movie tends to lag a little and a host characters add no value to the movie apart from being there just for the sake of it. Of course, some of the characters do sparkle especially the RAW agent with his telegu background and accent while the CIA agent does show some charisma. You won't find fault with the acting at any level but at the same time their presence isn't mandatory. One thing that stood out like a sore thumb was the 12th century portion which has no relevance to the rest of the movie. That segment while being engrossing on its own, doesn't connect with the rest of the movie.

Dasavatharam has big ambitions and it's sad that though a lot of money was spent on the movie (according to Indian standards), it still ain't enough. As the movie relies on a lot of special effects, this further adds to the woes of the movie. A lot of special effects used look amateurish and tacky. This is a big dampener as seamless use of special effects is integral to a movie like Dasavatharam. We still have a long way to go in this area. Make up is another area that doesnt fully satisfy the viewer. It's still plainly visible that the actors are donning a layer of plastic on their face. But credit to Kamal to make us overlook such an obvious flaw with his nuanced acting.

The much hyped movie does deliver in parts. Humour is weaved in an unobtrusive manner and so is pathos. The stunts are choreographed pretty nicely and so are the songs kept to a minimum thus not hindering the flow of the movie. Asin and Mallika, both have minimal roles to play, and are suitably used.

Watching the movie, I feel that Kamalhassan may have been constrained by the budget and technology available at his disposal but with his grand vision will allows others to venture into territory hitherto not pursued.

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