Friday, July 04, 2008

In defense of Dasavathaaram

There’s nothing novel in people trying to get famous by ridiculing things that are otherwise popular. I guess the case is no different with Dasavathaaram. [Some reviews here]. I had almost decided not to watch the movie in theaters after reading all the reviews blasting the movie, but I had to give in to my better half.

To start with, I liked the movie. I think I even loved it in bits and pieces. It isn’t a magnum opus in any case, but it does attempt to convey a lot of right messages. And it’s pretty bold. Kudos to Kamal - I haven’t seen a mainstream movie with a mainstream actor who’s bold enough to expound the values of atheism in such an emphatic manner, with absolutely no second thoughts.

Let’s start with the positives. Kamal’s effort is admirable, as always. If acting is his profession, there’s no doubt that he does total justice to it. Here is one guy who still believes in ‘acting’ as opposed to other forms for attracting the audience – such as humor, so-called ‘ssshtyle’, so-called ‘action’ etc, most of which turn out to be silly more often than not. His acting is second to none.

That said, I think the biggest point that works in the movie’s favor is the wide-sweeping nature of the tale itself. While bits and pieces appear disconnected, the movie works. It manages to thread all the pieces together, and, in the process, covers religion, atheism, God(s), bio-terrorism, global warming, Tsunami, and what not. That an Indian movie could be so wide-sweeping in nature and still manages to captivate the audience is heartening. I mean, do we really have to look for a racy entertainer all the time for a movie? How many movies have done this? Can we give credit for the effort? Playing 10 roles is purely a marketing element, but what is gladdening is an effort to connect multiple themes into a movie. The movie doesn’t end up like a ‘Babel’, but I guess Babel won’t run among Indian audience.

Onto to the negatives. When a character is supposed to perform 10 roles, there ought to be some force-fits, and there’s obviously a possibility of lesser attention to some of the roles. Some of the roles appear purely for adding to the count, and some just didn’t make any sense. Case in point is the Japanese warrior. Then there is the biggest blooper of all – the heroine, played by Asin. Boy, wasn’t that an irritating character? So annoying and almost nauseating! I guess half the sane people in the world would ditch her first thing if they encounter someone like her in their lives. The hero deciding to marry him is admirable, and courageous. She was a perfect example of how 'not to be'. The graphics could have certainly been better.

I loved the closing lines. “I don’t say there is no God… all I’m saying is it would be nice to have a God!” Seen from the context of movie, i.e. Tsunami, I can’t wonder how true and poignant those words are.

Rate Four out of Five. Kudos to Kamal for his audacity. People who were disappointed were victims of their own expectations.