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Dasavathaaram Movie review
Where does one begin writing about this film? It is indeed an experience to be seen and heard with the grandeur of the big screen rather than just written and read about. But since it is a ritual to write about a movie after its release, here goes...
Dasavathaaram begins with Kamal's voiceover telling us the story of Rangaraja Nambi, and the movie goes back hundreds of years when the Cholas ruled South India. It begins with a scene when the ardent Saivites insist on wiping out the name of the Hari-chanting Vaisnavites. The Chola king, arrogant with his power, orders the removal of Perumal's idol from a temple. As the Chola ruler's men are at work, a young man comes running into the temple, fights the men and restores the Lord to his original place. This is Nambi, ardent Narayana devotee who is willing to give his life for his Lord, his Narayana.
The incidents that follow are what intellectuals refer to as chaos theory. And that is what our protagonist Govindarajulu also talks about. And from all that chaos comes order.
From ancient South India, the story moves to present day US, where Govindarajulu (our hero) is working as a scientist, a bio-weapon expert to be more specific. The lab he works for is developing a virus that has the ability to kill millions of people without expending a single bullet. A freak accident in the lab has Govindarajulu questioning the purpose of such life-threatening research. He decides to move away from all this, but when he realizes that his boss is out to sell the virus to the highest bidder, he steals the virus from the lab and escapes. What ensues after this is a chase across the globe, from the US to India. Throughout this chase, all the avatars of Kamal are introduced in the story, one by one.
One is so engrossed in the tale that one is not really bothered after some time whether the character is Kamal or not, each character becomes part of the narrative, blends into the plot and the scenes so well, that before one realizes it, one is sucked into the maelstrom of a plot to become a part of the experience.
The third Kamal entering the plot is Christian Fletcher, an ex-CIA agent who wants to lay hands on the bio-weapon and chases Govind all through the film. His aide, the sexy and glamorous Mallika Sherawat, helps Chris in his chase.
One of the most hilarious characters played by Kamal is Balram Naidu, a Telugu CBI officer. The manner in which Kamal has given life to this character is simply amazing. The subtle humour in Balram's accent, mannerisms and dialogues is very commendable. The interactions between Balram and Govind are very funny.
In this entire wild goose chase, Govind bumps into Aandal, a simple girl from Chidambaram. This is also the point where we meet the next Kamal, Krishnaveni, Aandal's senile grandmother who is waiting for the past 50 years or more for her dead son to return.
Many more Kamals get introduced in the story: Avtaar Singh, Punjabi pop star, turban and all. Jaya Prada plays his wife Ranjitha; Shingen Narahashi, a Japanese martial arts expert who wants to extract his revenge from Govind. (Why? Well, you have to watch the movie for that!)
Another character that stands out is Vincent Babruvahan, a Dalit leader. Kamal has made this character so believable; especially the accent is so perfect, for a minute you wonder if it is really Kamal Haasan. Then we have the extremely tall "light house" that is Kaifulla Khan, part of a simple Muslim family. How he gets entangled in this entire chase is for you to see and enjoy. And of course, how can we miss out on George W Bush, who is at his "intelligent" best.
Asin appears as Kodhai, Nambi's wife and then as Aandal. Kodhai's pain when she loses her husband is indeed heart-wrenching. She has once again proved that she is not just a pretty face. As Aandal, her comic sense reminds u