Dasavathaaram – Not a review

This is not a review. I only view movies once (unless they are made by Hayao Miyazaki).

Warning 1: Spoilers ahead.

Warning 2: If you haven’t seen the movie, this post will make about as much sense as the plot in a Vijay movie.

Warning 3: Please read Warnings 1 & 2 before proceeding

What connects

  • Oppressive rule of the Burmese military junta
  • Chinese oppression of Tibet

If your answer is that these are pressing, contemporary global issues, you would only be partially right. Because more critically, these are the only topics left unexplored in Kamal’s Dasavathaaram. The rest of the usual suspects, atheism, caste, religion, climate change, Sand mafia, just to name a few, were there in full force.

If I had to present this movie in the form of bullets in an OpenOffice presentation, I would say that Dasavathaaram was fundamentally about

  • A US biological weapon that turns people into liquid versions of The Incredible Hulk.
  • Global discrimination against Muslims, and the critical role played by mosques as anti-Tsunami bunkers.
  • The continuing insistence by the priestly class in India that sculpted pieces of rock placed inside places of religious worship are best handled by saree-clad Keralite actresses speaking in a Dumbram accent (Tambram accent specifically exaggerated and tailored for Kollywood movies)
  • Religious fanaticism (especially by saree-clad Keralite actresses holding statuettes of Vishnu) trumping over the common-sense rationality of science.
  • The impact of Hiroshima on the Kung-fu skills of Japanese girls who can speak Tamizh.
  • Final and conclusive proof that all ex-CIA assassins become either exotic dancers or shorter versions of Steven Segal. (Kamal’s makeup is very impressive but it does kill facial expressions, like Botox injections do. The 7-foot tall Pathan character definitely looked like John Kerry while the ex-CIA hitman looked like Steven Segal’s mini-me)
  • Providing the NRA with an incredibly powerful new tagline – Guns don’t kill people, they kill cancer.
  • In a fight between Napoleon Iyer and Hassan Iyengar, Napoleon is likely to win.

I loved the movie. Ok. It wasn’t much of a movie. Perhaps, “The Kamalhassan Talent Show Extravaganza Mega Mela” might be more accurate a term to describe this three hour ride, but it was fun. Clearly, the storyline was rather dubious, but Kamal’s brilliance more than made up for it. Obviously Asin was annoying, but Balram Naidu was a masterstroke. Himesh’ music had about as much depth as the river Cauvery in summer, but Kamal’s rendition of “O O Sanam” was rousing. I rarely find George Bush funny, but Kamal’s Dubya sure was. Ah the great tragedy of Kamalhassan! When he makes movies with intelligent stories and works with classy directors, nobody watches them, and when he does a commercial flick like this, he makes the rest of the cast look about as qualified as Darryl Cullinan facing Shane Warne.

I don’t know if any of you noticed this, but the clear-as-day references to the original 10 avatars of Vishnu stood out so clearly that I didn’t even have to try to make them up.

  • The muscular Vaishnavite priest who gets hooks pierced through his skin for hoisting purposes and eventually drowns with the idol of his dear deity = Fish, because, fish live in water and get hooked by fisherman in a very similar way. Way too obvious.
  • The slow, turtle-like paati (grandmother)
  • The incredibly lame and uninteresting Kaifullah, the 7 foot Pathan = a complete Bore
  • The Loin from Pnjaab = Avtaar Singh
  • The stereotypical small, petty (albeit funny) bureaucrat who just has to assert his authority on more qualified people who literally dwarf him in many ways
  • The angry, bad ass ex-CIA assassin with an axe to grind
  • A leader with a complete inability to own up to his own faults and hypocrisies
  • The dark skinned, yet charismatic Poovaraghan
  • The calm, meditative Zen master
  • The Scientist, the bringer of the apocalypse of tomorrow (Kal ki Apocalypse)

The best dialogue of the movie

Asin – Are you saying God does not exist?

Kamal – No, I am not saying that at all. I’m just saying that it will be great if he does.

I cannot imagine another commercial film actor saying these words in what is ultimately a LCD masala flick. Kudos to you Kamal. You might not win an Oscar for this film, but you have definitely won an Aascar.