Kamal’s 10 or Perumal on the Run?

Kamal’s 10 or Perumal on the Run?

It is not often that I write Movie reviews on my blog, but then ‘Dasavatharam’ is not just another movie. Or for that matter none of Kamal’s movies ever is..

It was branded as the costliest film ever made in India (Nowadays this record breaks after every new release of the superstars…), maximum no. of prints exhibited internationally, those never-before distributor rights figures and all that…

Leave the hype aside, ‘Dasavatharam’ is certainly a watchable movie, worth every penny of your ticket and incidental expenses on the day of the show. But magnum OOPS (Opus)… no, it isn’t…

In fact Dasavatharam is not just about one actor playing 10 roles…There are plenty of messages here serving as food for thought…In fact beneath its sheen and glam and SFX, it is even an intelligent movie… But that hits you only long after you leave the theatre…

The whole movie is all about a deadly virus escaped from the germ lab in US of A
(Some cooked up Robin Cook–like novel, this?) which after a convoluted international chase, gets inside a Perumal statue in Tamil Nadu and everyone is after it.. Will Perumal survive, will he in fact save Himself and his devotees or will the bad guys have the last laugh?

It’s like a mad wild goose chase and I felt the movie should be called Perumal on the run in its English version

But everyone wanted to know about Kamal’s perfect 10…To be frank, only half those 10 characters , have really come out ‘above average to good’, while the others fail to impress……

The reasons are not far to seek…I am one of those old fashioned guys who has been watching his meteoric rise since 70’s till date, one who loves to watch this veteran actor’s facial histrionics and those realistic expressions that have long catapulted him as one of the best emoters in the celluloid business . Thus it is when he goes overboard trying do to a record of sorts with 10 disparate characters of all sizes and hues.., he makes a sad a sacrifice there…

As one in my back row in the theatre observed, many of his avatars in both gender and different ethnicities resemble “chapaathi maavu adiccha maadiri moonji’ ( A mound of chappathi flour pasted on the face)… His face is ‘static’, like a stuffed mask and that is not what we wanted to see Kamal as… Like Fletcher, George Bush, Japanese and Khalifullah…

In roles that he really shines are the ones essentially where he plays them with his USP – wit and sensitivity like a Balaram Naidu or an Iyengar paati or even with his own face as the scientist Govind. He is excellent as usual in those roles though he has started looking a bit jaded and puffed up…at his age it is acceptable and even likeable..

The rest of the movie is also a mixture of very good to mediocre…

The initial episode about the sad end of a proud 12th Century Vaisnavaite priest Rangarajan Nambi at the hands of a cruel Shaivite Chola King, sets the ball rolling for what has been discussed widely in the media as the Chaos theory and its butterfly effect… (The latter part of the movie too is about the a Perumal statue in the renowned shiva shrine of Chidambaram..the irony could have been easily missed..)

Whether the sinking of a huge stone monolith of a sleeping Vishnu in the sea will result in a monstrous ‘nature hits back’ kind of Tsunami eight centuries hence is not rational although the scientist Govind is very much so, to the extent of being a an atheist… But whoever said Chaos and Butterfly are logical theories, they try to explain the unexplained and prove that some effects are seemingly implausible to contemplate…As a faithful Hindu, one could even call it the Karmic principle of cause and effect

But what is not acceptable even as ‘Chaos and butterfly’ is how a throat cancer patient Avatar (Kamal) gets cured by a bullet though the diseased part…The Cancer Institute here might even think of buying guns and bullets for its surgeons after this movie!!

The storyteller tries to balance his approach too catering both to the rigid orthodox believers and callous non-believers by showing the humanistic angle of blood donation, Muslims saved in a masjid, and the Iyengar heroine Asin who justifies that even a ‘Tsunami was a good thing after all, as only a few died instead of millions’..

Music by Himmesh is average with just a couple of hummable numbers, and rest of the crew (other than 10 Kamals) are OK in their roles.

If record number of roles is what Kamal wanted to prove to us that he can carry off so many of them, he could have even played the jaded looking Jayaprada or the screaming shrill Asin too himself!( Asin-who goes a little over the top with constant screams of ‘Perumaale’!)…

May be Kamal, given his penchant about disguises which started from the days of Kalyanaraman till now, will treat us to being his own heroine next time around…Villain, you asked?.. Oh, he has already played it right in this movie..!

In fact Kamal should have appeared as Lord Vishnu himself and blessed all of his 10 avatars in the last frame, instead of the Director KS Ravi Kumar dancing to ‘Ulaga naayakane’ number…
Is not Lord Vishnu, the true ‘Ulaga nayaka’ here?..

No? Again conflict between Shaivaite and Vaishnavaites, did you say?

Well…all that is left now is him playing the Trimurti- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara…


4 responses to “Kamal’s 10 or Perumal on the Run?

  1. A very good review of the film.Kamal can be recognized in almost all his roles except the Japanese one which he has pulled off well.Kamal stresses throughout the film that humanity is more important than your devotion to God.Rangarajan Nambi sank with the monolith of Narayana in the beginning of the film,leaving his wife and children.He refused to chant the name of Shiva, due to which he was tortured and was chained to the statue,and sank into the sea with it.But 6 centuries later it seems that he has reunited with her at the same spot resting on themonolith.Apart from that, Comedy in the film comes from Balaram Naidu, whose assistant claims Balaram can speak five different languages in Telugu!!Tout ensemble, it is a watchable film for once,you won’t be disappointed as the film is not devoid of action too.As my father says, the film should have been named “Perumal on the run”!

  2. Oh by the way — not sure how much it is true — but apparently, there DID surface a large perumal stone statue that got washed up during the Tsunami. Not sure where it is housed now. Any idea ?

  3. Being a fan of Kamalahaasan, I did see this movie.This was the worst film of his.My advice to my friends and relatives on how to watch this movie was as follows:Be in the theatre in time and watch the first 20 minutes and enjoy the terrific photography.Then go to sleep or leave the movie hall and walk up and down the foyer munching pop corn and reading a good book.About 20 minutes before the end, get back into the movie hall for the climax and enjoy the Tsunami scenes.You will miss nothing in betweenThat’s my guarantee.The only role that I liked among the 10 was the that of the bumbling Telugu Police officer.The other roles were totally unconvincing.Tastes differ.You liked it.I found it boring.Keep writing.You must be more regular.I saw this blog entry today, Nov 19 and am commenting right away.RegardsG Vishwanath

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