Posted in Movies - General

Dasavatharam



The very concept that a butterfly fluttering its wings could have far reaching consequences over totally unrelated, yet related events across the world and that too over a period of time, is in someways based on Chaos Theory, of which I have very little knowledge on, mathematically speaking. Yes – Edward Lorenz may have succeeded in coming up with a viable explanation using his graphical charts and equations to convince his group of intellectual scientists & mathematicians, how a flap of a butterfly in Florida could set off a tornado in Texas, but to extrapolate that theory into more meaningful and easy-to-relate-incidents to convince common men, is not easy. And a visual medium is probably the most powerful one to do that, if anyone dares to attempt it. Many movie makers have yielded to the “sensitivity to their initial conditions”and some of them have actually managed to succeed in making the audience think about the “butterfly effect”. And interestingly, all these movies that have been attempted in the past (mostly in Hollywood), have all relied on different stories, different settings, different characters and entirely different time periods to make their case. That may be why, the theory itself is still fascinating to many scientists, mathematicians and some movie makers, all alike, for over 100 years, since the theory was first proposed.

If Kamal Hassan did indeed come up with Chaos theory as the basis and then built the whole story of “Dasavatharam” on that basis alone, to prove his case, then the rather brash and bodacious attempt deserves multiple kudos. In spite of some contrasting reviews the movie has received (which should explain the complexity of the basic thread of the movie), I am not going to review the movie in this blog, but just present my observations and thoughts, as another movie fan, who caught this movie in theaters recently. The confession is that, I actually appreciated the movie better in my second viewing – and may give another try in its Telugu version soon.
My summary – Ridiculously Brilliant..and Astoundingly Intellectual for the slightly intelligent audience and Highly Cheesy & ‘Mission Impossible Style’ Entertaining for the rest of the average Indian movie audience. It is not often that you can dissect a movie as both entertaining (as in “masala pot-boiler types”) and intelligent (as in “Stanley Kubrick types”) at the same time…
I think this movie is like “Virumandi” and “Anbe Sivam” presented together, in “Aboorva Sahodharargal” format!

“You shouldn’t keep saying that God does not exist and all that..Ok?”…, Asin to Kamal towards the end of the movie.
“When did I ever say that God does not exist? All I have been saying is that if God (indeed) exists, it will be good (for us)”, Kamal.

I think the above line is “Oru soru padham” for this Pot of Kamal Hassan – the dialogue writer. Of course, to quote Vincent Boovaraghan, this pot is so big that you need more than one morsel as a sample. In fact, the opening sequence, where Govind is setting the stage for the whole story to unfold, I have to admit that the dialogues were simply going over my head because the choice of words and the need to explain science in Tamil, gave yet another opportunity to show his literary prowess and as much as he succeeded in coming up with some good lines, I bet more than 80% of the movie going mass in Tamil Nadu simply didn’t pick up a word there..

What can I say about Balram Naidu? Perfection – even though the Tamil with Telugu flavor accent was presented in its movie form (which means the flavor oozes out through the character’s skin), full marks to its conception and execution. Should definitely rank in the list along with Kovai Tamizh speaking Dr.Sakthivel, Palakkad Kamarajan and Tuticorin accented Vincent Boovaraghan..as some of the best comical characters who brought humor to the front mainly through their Tamil dialects. Awesome!

Many bloggers have tried to establish relationships between the Dashavtar that we know from mythology to the ten characters in this movie. Again brilliant conceptualization with enormous attention to details ranging from names, backdrops and dialogues to their respective roles in the movie – in order to establish that analogy. The screenplay writer Kamal gets extra marks for this.

There needs some settling down in my mind, if I have to start looking at every single plot in the movie and every single twist, to understand the application of the butterfly effect. Of course, the writer Kamal has taken pains to weave that theory into the storyline all through. There is always an effect for every action. As an example, When president George Bush (Kamal) decides not to call the cargo plane back to the USA, his action, unintentionally triggers the whole chase sequences in India. And the list goes on, once I start analyzing.

It is a hard theory to present and Kamal chose a less risky and a more difficult path of presenting his theory, in the form of an entertainer – or a chase filled road movie, so that his producer does not feel the pinch. Wise choice..and hopefully, the box office collections will ensure that Aascar Ravi gets to remain as one of the shrewdest producers of Kollywood.

Technically, the movie did not live up to my expectations, in spite of me being able to appreciate all the work they had done in scenes involving multiple Kamal characters. Tsunami CGI work was a big let down for all the talk from Brian Jennings. You can feel the mammoth effort put by Thotta Tharani and his crew, in creating the Tsunami sets…
Camerawork – Brilliant! We need more of Verman in our movies. But music as expected was just so-so.

Chaos theory or not – I feel gratified for getting opportunities to watch such Tamil movies…and the movie is an outright entertainer by all standards, in my books.

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Author:

Besides fantasizing about being a Peter Gibbons at least for a couple of days at my work, I think I have a long way to go to realize some of the other fantasies. But like any ambitious man out there, I will get there! Note: All views expressed in this blog are mine alone and have got nothing to do with my company Cogent IBS, Inc., its employees or any of its affiliates.

6 thoughts on “Dasavatharam

  1. Nice Review.
    I agree with you in more than one place.
    It’s interesting to note that you haven’t mentioned the director anywhere [ which exactly is his role in the movie as well! ]. Kudos for that. 🙂

  2. Thanks for your feedback.

    Yes..I didn’t mention the director anywhere..right? Oops that was not intentional…:-)

  3. I understand your dislike of the vfx and I can list the difficulties but that is a hard way to say much.

    I did so many heavy VFX shows in Hollywood and this was double the work in a very different culture. I had to face a constant demand for excellence, budget and time. I was never easy and quite a few people did not finish.

    The work was performed by 10 companies here in Chennai with a 98 percent India crew. I was vfx super only able to speak french and english. The crew was great, fantastic supportive and I do love them very much.

    The shock for me was seeing pictures of the crew and seeing how much different I look in the middle of the crew. For me, I felt at home and blended in. Not the case.

    It was a hard and ambitious undertaking for everyone. I had to balance time,makeup and set schedule with the logistics of only having one Kamal per day in makeup. KS Ravikumar was the first Indian director to take on and finish such a large project and his team of AD’s did outstanding work. On special AD became the VFX producer almost the minute we met. He deserves the same praise for his wonderful help.

    I can’t defend the work nor can I praise it. It did have everything and was completed to a very high standard. We certainly got to 90% quality and I am so proud of the talent here in Chennai.

    I did grow to love Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India. I really want to stay here.

    It is a great time for Chennai and I believe we can build an industry here that will take on any US studio. We have growing pains and are actually in a early learning mode.

  4. Thanks for leaving your comments here “elvisp”. I am actually excited to hear from a crew member who worked in the movie. Like I had mentioned in my post, I could absolutely appreciate (even though I don’t know squat about vfx in movies) all the hard work – I was only commenting upon the net result when compared with some better made vfx movies.
    I am glad you like Chennai..It has a lot of potential to grow – creatively speaking for sure. Do stay there longer and help support that cause 🙂

    -Ganpy.

  5. Hi Ganpy,
    Thanks for the thanks. I appreciate your honest words. It takes me about one year to be able to look back and see my mistakes. Sometimes one is simply too close to have proper insight.

    I was happy to see many favorable reviews of my and my crew’s efforts. I do also take criticism as a positive thing. We are all still learning and without both sides we will not learn.

    So, thank you again. and you credit some people in your initial review with my work. I take that as a compliment that I was able to see credit given to others, it is the point of my work.

    bMj

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