Cast: Kamal Haasan, Asin, Mallika Sherawat, Jayapradha, P. Vasu, Napolean, Nagesh, KR Vijaya and Others. Action: Thyagarajan. Cinematography: Ravi Varman. Editing: Ashmith Kunder. Lyrics: Vennelakanti, Chandrabose, Veturi & Bhuvanachandra. Make-up: Michael Westmore. Music: Himesh Reshammiya. Direction: KS Ravikumar. Co-producer: Rameshbabu. Presenter: V. Ravichandran. Banner: Ascaar Film (P) Ltd. Release Date: 13th June, 2008.
To enact 10 diverse roles in one movie, and do all of them convincingly (and a few of them brilliantly), one must either be a madman or a genius. Or both. The general verdict on Kamal Hassan is that he is definitely both. Dasavatharam keeps you wondering 'what next?' and then when next happens, it does finally move you. In spite of all the hype surrounding the actor playing 10 roles, the story is given utmost importance and Hassan's screenplay really makes the movie watchable. Suddenly at the very end, he decides to mock his own efforts in a final sadomachoistic gesture. The last word goes first with Dasavatharam.
Plot Govinda Raju is a biotechnology scientist in the US who realizes the dangers of chemical warfare. The chip containing a potent chemical that can destroy billions that they developed goes missing, and Govinda is in search of this vial which travels all the way to India. Many events and people's lives are intertwined as the protagonist searches for this vial in this science meets faith journey.
Story, Screenplay and Direction The movie begins with the end. Once the climax approaches, you think you know what is coming up next, and then become pleasantly surprised. The terror and pain of the Tsunami has for the first time been justified on the silver screen. The way all the different threads pick up in the end is what makes the movie interesting and likeable.
The best part about the movie is that they did not neglect the story and simply concentrate on the characters played by the star. The characters are all valid and the context, even more so. Technically, it is an excellent movie, and not just in the Indian context anymore. Of course, some streaks of International cinema exists, including Passion of Christ and the last Bond flick.
It is fusion in its most presentable form. If one part takes you to the Chola dynasty's Saivite-Vaisnavite conflict, the other has NRI scientists in the US rejoicing as Bush grants them money for research. The former CIA Fletcher terrorism is understated while the cop who suspects a lane full of Muslims to be terrorists is real as ever. All the characters that Kamal plays are actually all the main characters. Some silliness, a loophole here or there and a bit of hamming can be excused and neglected. Editing and camera work is okay. Graphics impeccable.
Performances Kamal Hassan does the whole “Universal Hero” bit quite well, and gives a whole lot of Paisa Vasool for hardcore fans. Then there are the roles. The first role of a Vaisnavite, the old lady, the Tamilian cop, the sand activist and the protagonist role of Govinda Raju are the best five. The Japanese teacher, the American crook Fletcher and President Bush are also performed well by him, body language et all, but the makeup gets a little too unnatural here. The Afghani-Indian and the Punjabi pop star Avtaar Singh come last for the not-so-great makeup and not his best performance overall. But, wait a minute…many stars don't perform one role in the entire movie up to the mark sometimes, here this actor has done at least 8 convincingly! He just gets into the skin of the character, and even those who don't think the world of Hassan will have to appreciate first of all his determination to pull this off, and his sheer skill.
Who else is in the movie? He eats everyone up, presence wise. Asin is likeable in both her roles.
Music and Dance Not exactly an asset for the movie. The last number 'Loka Nayakuda' is good and 'Mukunda' hummable. Otherwise the music is bland.
Last Word The movie ends at the beginning, and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction-of a marathon effort in filmmaking that's not wasted. For those who were afraid that Hassan might take himself way too seriously and it might turn out to be another Abhay (shudder!), there is good news. Dasavatharam makes a good watch, not just to see the actor play most of the major roles, but for having a solid fact-interweaves-with-fiction story that ends well but signs off with a little bit of self-mockery. But still, it is a clever movie, and the effort is there for all to see.