To be able to watch Dasavatharam without cringing you need to be new to Tamil Cinema. You shouldn’t have grown up in the 80s and seen some of the finest works of Kamal Haasan. In fact you might enjoy it if you don’t tend to like Kamal films. Mostly because this film nearly ruins his legacy.
While walking back from the theater today, I was asked not to be too harsh about the film. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to dislike it. To feel like someone has snatched your money and given you a royal yawn in return. For an actor of Kamal’s level, I don’t think it’s particularly challenging to play ten or even fifteen characters. All it takes is a relatively healthy level of megalomania to do something like that. And with this film, Kamal not only plays ten characters, he also directs the film, writes the screenplay and dialogues.
Let’s deal with the issue of ten characters first. Some of them are interesting, some of them make you laugh. But some of them don’t look human. The problem is that the two inch latex mask that he wears for some of the characters swells his face up. So it looks about 40% larger than a usual face. The face and the body have no sense of proportion. I know this sounds strange, but when you see these characters, it feels more likely that that the character will suddenly explode and an alien might emerge from within. That’s how unreal some of them looked.
The only humour in the film came from one of the characters. The thing is, I am okay with films having very little comedy. In fact, Kamal’s done a great job in films that don’t feel like there’s a single light moment in them. But the trouble is, some of the cringe worthy scenes were meant to be funny, I think. Which brings me to Asin. The woman’s name is appropriately close to Asinine. Which is what her character is. The maami caricature fits only if used for a slightly mature woman. If you try and superimpose cute and maami together, it doesn’t fit. I don’t know how to describe that. Oh wait, Asinine is a good word.
The music is crap. Unadulterated crap. The songs feel loud, absurd and don’t fit with any bit of the film. The first ten minutes of the film are watchable. The forty minutes after that are torture. Then there’s about 35 minutes of mildly watchable stuff. There’s some brilliance that shines through when Kamal dons the character of a Telugu man. But from a man who gave us MMKR, Avvai Shanmughi and Thenali, one ends up expecting more.
And about those waves and the tsunami scene. It’s badly shot. With such a big budget, how hard is to get a good animation team together? The animation is horrible in parts. It reminds me of the early video games. Actually, it’s worse than the first generation Sonic the Hedgehog series. There’s nothing worse than bad animation. Actually, a bad movie is worse perhaps. Which is what Dasavatharam is. Save your money and Kamal memories. Rent something from the 80s and drown the noise that is Dasavatharam.