This is coming much later than it should have. I don’t see the point of writing a review now, coz every possible point of view has been said a hundred times already on one blog or the other.
Now if you want plot and other things, you might want to peruse this, and this. Much of this might seem alien to you if you have little or no interest in the movie. If you are interested in watching the movie, this post might contain spoilers… but everyone and his brother seems to have watched this one, so I’ll give short shrift to the possibility you haven’t yet watched it. Here go my impressions on this flick.
- Don’t don’t don’t read a hundred reviews of a movie you’re planning to watch, irrespective of how high your curiosity levels are. It affects how you view the movie. In my case, I already knew about all the 10 roles, and what to look out for in each; part of the WOW effect was lost. And… you already know which avatar each Kamal is, so you don’t anymore have the joy of it all dawning on you.
- I despise the mall culture even more now, and believe these islands of high pricing should be done away with as soon as possible; Rs. 300/- per person is simply not done, so what if it’s a weekend.
- Now to the movie – it comes close to perfection. Well-made, definitely. Flaws, yes it does have them. But the plot.. ah, now that’s what is called seamless. No loose ends at all!
- The pace is real fast, especially in the first half – you turn to explain something to your cousin next to you, and snap! you’ve missed a good deal of what happened.
- The performances. First let’s see the non-Kamal ones – Asin’s okay except for the hysterics in the first half. Mallika Sherawat… ironically, the lady is totally unnecessary in this plot about how everything-is-connected-to-everything-else. Nagesh and KR Vijaya are their usual selves. Rekha (no, not Gemini Ganesan’s daughter, better known as Umrao Jaan or Mother ’98) sheds tears well in her bit role. Jayapradha looks good, shakes a leg, but doesn’t have too much to do. The Japanese lady simply captivates you with her calmness, poise, loyalty and grit to fight till the end. Napoleon as Kulothunga Chola is believable, and when Asin throws her Mangalsutra at him and he laughingly dodges it, you’ve never hated anyone else more. Heck… only this many non-Kamal characters???
- Now for Kamal. Rangaraja Nambi is slightly over the top, but a powerful performance nevetheless. Govind is stock guy-next-door Kamal. George Bush has nothing much to do. Fletcher needed more punch I felt. I didn’t like Avtaar Singh that much. Khalifulla Khan was well-etched as the dutiful son. Shingen Narahasi’s stunts are great, apart from the bits where (cliched though it might sound) his silence speaks volumes, and his Japanese is flawless. Vincent Poovaragam is a strong performance. Krishnaveni Paati was awesome. And Balram Naidu… if a role came close to being perfectly researched, perfectly executed, or just Perfect, it was this one. The accent (he speaks five languages in Telugu) was so Gulty you can’t help but marvel, and the CrazyMohan-ish dialogues have everyone in splits.
- My status message now says “In Dasaavatharam, Kamal does 10 kinds of roles – good, and godawesome“.
- Himesh sucks. He really does. Why couldn’t it be Karthik Raja or Charan or even Yuvan Shankar Raja?
- The plot, like I said before, was flawless. Kamal really deserves a pat on the back for this effort at writing a plausible storyline with so many constraints – ten characters of varying makeup requirements, ten connected stories which should all make sense together as well as have some paisa-vasool sequences… heck, nothing appears forced in this, except for ten characters played by Kamal.
- Talking of which, if the ten characters had been played by ten other people, it still would have been an awesome plot. This one beats all the other unconnected-stories-linked-up flicks hollow, including Babel and Crash. And is more believable than both put together. I’m not going to talk about the interconnectedness here, but if you disagree with that bit, do feel free to start a discussion about the same on the comments section.
- I do have a few gripes though. Asin’s “PerumaaLae!” is too screechy at times. The song in the opening sequence totally diluted the whole seriousness of the scene. The make-up is too caky for Bush, Fletcher, Paati and Narahasi. And whatever the infinite monkey theorem might state, it was still a bit too much to believe the monkey could type in the password on first try. NaCl *sigh*. And why did Naidu have to be called a R&AW official and be portrayed as a bumbling bureaucrat in the first half? Wouldn’t the CBI have been sufficient?
- The bullet taking the cancer away was portrayed more plausibly than in a Mithunda flick of yesteryear… and if it wasn’t for the popularity of that scene in extremely derogatory ways, I don’t think it would have been taken so negatively. Still, it’s one of those “Ohh.. *sigh*” scenes, along with the one where the ice boxes get exchanged.
- Some trivia: I read somewhere that the Bay of Bengal in the 12th century was home to sharks, locally known as suran. So the shark in the scene where Nambi is drowned is not just some jingchak special effect. Lazy Geek draws parallels between Sin City’s Marv and Fletcher here.
- The bits about Ramasamy Naicker and Kalaignar from Asin invoked nothing but empathy, and I suppose I’m not alone in wishing it wasn’t censored away. Various other little things… theetu, Asin singing the idol to sleep, Asin getting the shivers when she hears a wolf howl… everything about Naidu’s intro scene including the Gulty ringtone, his asking the guy named Narasimha Rao whether he’s Gult too… these are the little details that add life to the characters.
- KS Ravikumar… heck, how can he manage to actually look not-at-all-out-of-place in a song sequence?
- You see so many flicks about love across faiths, but this is the first I’ve seen about a relationship between a believer and an agnostic.
- Someday I’d like to see a sequel.
I’d say go watch it. And if you already have, watch it again.
I’d quite lost the TV addiction due to NITK. Apart from cricket, I’ve never watched anything in the GB TV room, thanks to the consensus there being on shows I really hate to watch, ranging from Indian Idol to K-serials.
Apart from that, I’ve had my main source of news as the Internet for quite a while now. Which makes all the crap shown on TV quite boring, repetitive, hackneyed, biased, unintelligent and aimed at misinformation and sensationalization aimed at increasing TRPs – like someone said at Last Word @ Engi ’08, some 700 people decide what the whole nation watches.
I’ve lost the taste for television. And the non-habit has become so entrenched that I don’t even watch the movies I mark with a tick in the newspaper listings while doing the Su-doku. So when a friend messaged me saying Joe Sat concert was on VH1, I took it as an excuse to switch on the idiot box for once.
Wonder of wonders, the remote that worked so well just yesterday wasn’t, now. Or maybe I just absorb electricity and infra-red waves. I was reduced to walking back and forth to change channels. And for the first time, I came close to questioning my paranoia about sitting too close to the TV that might ruin your eyes. Yeah, they say there’s no concrete evidence on that, but if I went by that, I would be defeating the whole purpose of a paranoia.
So… well… there was no changing channels at short intervals. It actually felt good, not being a slave to a low attention span. And not acting on the impulse of “Egad… I might be missing out on what’s happening in Star One.. and what the hell are they now playing on VH1?”
For the first time in a long time, I felt in control. [Ooh, corny line!]
Moving on to the second part of the title, I chanced upon this show called Gateway. From what I saw of it (which was pitifully less), it seemed an awesome show with a deserving winner, but according to some others, it was just an elaborate excuse for Ashok Amritraj to give a Hollywood internship and a dream directorial assignment under his Hyde Park Entertainment away to Raj Babbar’s son-in-law Bejoy Nambiar.
I was quite impressed by two short films of Bejoy that I saw – I only caught two episodes.
I don’t remember what the first one was called, but it went like this. There was a middle-aged man, and a younger man touring Mumbai. They are taking pictures around the various tourist spots and landmarks. The middle-aged man seems to be in every frame. And the second-last shot shows the middle-aged man feeling the pictures – he’s blind! And then you realize you should have seen it all along.
The second one was on the last episode. It was called Soap. Something about a man (Jackie Shroff) watching a channel on TV that seems to mirror his life. And everything that is shown on TV seems to be happening to him in the near future. So he fixes his breaking marriage, his daughter getting abused, his coworkers making fun of him… when he sees him fallen with his head bleeding. Turns out he does get slightly bruised, but the actor playing him in the soap is bleeding even more profusely at the same scene.
The only thing I didn’t like was the ending – he quits watching the soap, his wife starts watching it. The standard it-starts-all-over-again ending.
His flicks were full of life, well-shot, contemporary and all those things that makes for watchable, believable, entertaining viewing. Quite unlike the other finalist Prashant, whose ten-minute film was on alien abductions and subsequent matings with earth women, and the wonder-progeny that produced – “Children of Light”, apparently. I found the narration unnecessary and irrelevant, the performances shoddy, the dialogues even more so. The SFX might have been innovative, but it really didn’t improve the film in any way.
Bejoy no doubt was good, but heck, he’s supposed to be – he’s been assistant director for Bollywood movies, and he’s even worked under Mani Ratnam for Guru! And there was talk of the rules being bent to include him among the final 18…
I checked out the Gateway site, and the entry videos. Some if not most are way, way better than those shown in that miserable excuse for a movie called Dus Kahaaniyan. However, I didn’t understand Bejoy Nambiar’s entry, an international award winning short film called Reflections, starring – hold your breath – Mohanlal.
I’m still in the process of watching all the episodes, but I really must say it was a great concept… for once the viewer could judge… movies are made for the viewer, aren’t they? Quite unlike all those singing and dancing contests where the differences between good and better are so subtle they are imperceptible to the untrained eye or ear. Besides, a film takes time to get done, so there’s less of a question of “something went wrong in those four minutes”. I’d surely like to watch another season.
And there have been movies that have made me feel “Heck, I can do better than that!”, but I guess I won’t, for starters because I’ll have to actually sit down and do something more than armchair filmmaking.
Postscript: Now for something that’ll bring together both the aspects I’ve mentioned. I once saw this ad. There’s this old-ish man who sits down to watch his TV. He gets bored of what he’s watching and proceeds to change the channel. He ignores the remote and walks all the way to the TV to change channels. After a few seconds, it’s apparent he’s zapping channels, but each time he changes the channel, he walks all the way to the TV and back. And then’s the copy: Diabetes can be controlled with exercise. Make the time.
Post-Postscript: I wrote this quite a long time back, it was languishing among the incomplete drafts… I’d like to add I now watch Get Gorgeous 5 and Splitsvilla. The former is on [V], about grooming and picking models, and the latter is on MTV and is about… well…. two former Roadies contestants looking for love and co-hosts for shows… you have some fifteen-twenty girls looking to get the attention of two bad-looking, totally uninteresting, badly-dressed men, who give them tasks every day, and “dump” one girl at the end of the day. Sure hope there’s atleast one girl who walks out of the show saying “I find you both to be boring, not at all goodlooking, chauvinistic, and heck, you could use some English classes and gym sessions. I’m dumping you.”. And it’d probably be more awesome if the girl did this after “winning” the contest.
I haven’t yet watched Dasaavathaaram; but I’m simply dying to… the reviews have more than whetted my curiosity. Then there’s one scene that I am very eager to watch. Apparently Kamal Haasan in one of his many roles (for the uninitiated, he plays ten roles in the movie, and no two of them are related by blood, let alone be twins, and they aren’t even doppelgangers. Why then, should one do the work of ten, you ask? Because he can… remember “yeh kitne ka baraabar hai?“?), has throat cancer, and when someone fires a gun at him, the bullet goes through his throat taking the cancer away with it. I want to see for myself how such a scene is handled with style. And if not, I would like to think about what Kamal was thinking right from conceptualizing this shot to actually filming it and canning it, KS Ravikumar notwithstanding.
Now I’m not one of those who dismiss these gimmicks; I don’t mind them too much. Quite unlike most of the general populace who do dismiss these actions for being too populist and reaching out to the lowest common denominator of the audience.
And who send email forwards saying Newton got a heart attack watching a Rajnikanth movie.
In some versions, it is Mithun-da. And there are also endless Chuck Norris facts turned into facts about Superstar. In fact, it is these forwards that make Thalaivar larger than life than his on-screen persona.
And for the veracity behind these claims… I am yet to find a YouTube video showing Rajnikanth or Mithun with two guns and an enemy on the other side of a high wall, when they throw one gun up and shoot it so that it goes off and the enemy is killed. You would imagine when folks can be jobless enough to clip videos of Gaptain Vijaykanth shock the electricity out of a generator, they would atleast upload these legendary videos which everyone talks about in disparaging, superior tones, but no one has viewed.
And these superior, cynical tones from the supposed elite… that’s the reason I’m really surprised as to why Kamal Haasan put in that bit. Because Kamal starting from the ’90s has packaged himself to be sold to the urban elite. He makes ‘thinking’ movies, or so they say, and lives his characters, and you need a classy mind to really appreciate his films, or so it is publicized. Rajnikanth on the other hand, is projected as appealing to the masses (mainly by virtue of the aforementioned gimmicks), not take pains in getting into character, plays the same roles again and again, and delivers hits mainly due to the profusion of his fan clubs.
But when you rewind to fifteen years back or more, you’ll find this is just not the case.
In the initial decades of their careers, you’ll find Rajni did a larger variety of roles, while Kamal simply played the same loverboy character over and over again. Now getting into a debate over who is better is futile, as I’ve seen in the past; but I’ll say this generalization to “actor” and “superstar” are too generic to be taken at face value.
When you take a closer look at Kamal’s recent classy movies, you’ll find that the ones that were hits were mostly comedies, and penned by Crazy Mohan (whose absurdist comedy that was the main feature of his multilayered scripts that appeal at different levels to different people, and who deserves a whole post to himself). Whenever he deviated, his films have been commercial as well as critical failures – Aalavandhan, Hey Ram are examples. A notable exception is Anbe Sivam.. though I would say the story gets predictable, the characters of Kamal and Madhavan are exceedingly endearing, and along with the situations portrayed and simple dialogues, make it worth more than a watch.
But I guess selling Rajni-saar as the darling of the masses is a money-minting exercise, because that packaging chooses not to alienate the masses while not really turning away the ‘classes’, most of who have grown up watching Thalaivar in myriad roles right from their childhood, be it the rip-roaring Thillu Mullu (remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal, with a guest appearance by Kamal), Billa, Johnny, Gayathri or Netrikan. Ask these same people to name earlier films of Kamal that stand out, I’m sure you won’t get much beyond Kalathur Kannama, 16 Vayadhinile (with Rajni playing villain), Sigappu Rojakkal, Moondram Pirai (Sadma), or Raja Paarvai. Rajni sells for this nostagia, as well as for his movies (They really aren’t as bad as they are made out to be… entertainers, yes, but not lame ones). Kamal on the other hand sells for his current repertoire, as well as for his air of being a ‘thinking’ man’s filmmaker/actor, of which the latter has been tried successfully by Aamir Khan (who however is the non-thinking, non-critical, pseud (wo)man’s favorite filmmaker).
Habitual Rajni-bashers choose to ignore his large repertoire of good work, and choose to highlight only his cigarette-flicking (of late, coin-flicking), villain-thrashing ways, all of which have only that much importance in his career as “Aati Kya Khandala” or the train scene in Ghulam had for Aamir Khan.
And these people who scoff at the sheer unbelievability of his plots and scenes are the same people who wouldn’t mind a whirlwind tour of three countries in a 24-hour period from Dan Brown who churns out the same crap book after book, or Chetan Bhagat for who much of the same can be said. Or for that matter, Sidney Sheldon or Jeffrey Archer who can write about Czechs with nubbins and bracelets and get away with it.
Or watch SRK with his little mannerisms, RGV’s implausible plotlines, and applaud.
Or for that matter, even Tarantino and Disney flicks.
One of the main reasons why Rajni films succeed so well is because they are made for a family audience (like the movies Crazy Mohan pens for Kamal). When his scriptwriters lack the finesse of Crazy Mohan in tackling complex issues in such a way that it wouldn’t alienate any age-group, they would rather compromise on the issue. Unlike Kamal, who comes up with an Aalavandhan, about a psycho killer, or a Hey Ram (Which had viewers going Aiyo Rama). Rajnikanth takes great care to portray qualities that are valued in society – respect for elders, honesty, hard work and the like. His films, of course, are well-known for misogyny, but that isn’t his sole preserve.
I, like the average Tamil moviegoer choose to have it both ways – I’ll watch a Thalaivar movie with all the usual ingredients, whistle at the punch-dialogues, and tolerate the few references to him/his character being the superstar/perfectMan. I would enjoy a good Kamal movie by paying attention to his plot, characterization and script, apart from his makeovers, and choose to ignore those forced scenes of intimacy, over-the-top accents, and his general overdoing everything.
For they are doing it all just to entertain us. It is not everyday that they make movies, and their little idiosyncrasies are worth tolerating for the entertainment value of the finished product, and heck, their swelling with self-importance is what makes them larger than life.
PS: I intended to make this a post that doesn’t take itself very seriously… but somewhere down the line, it turned into a biased Doordarshan newsreader’s report, with none of the associated feeling of well-researchedness or newness about it. I suppose the bottomline would be that at the end of the day, Kamal and Rajni both are actors, out to make money and fulfill the expectations of the audience… and everything they do would be better understood if it was viewed first in the light of that.
A few weeks back, my cousin and I were in deep conversation, and in a hurry, she said something like “paying the feeses”. After the mandatory leg-pulling session with the family, the matter was put aside for later use.
Some lawyer said on NDTV that his client “didn’t gotten the bail”.
Today, I heard two girls talking while waiting for a bus. It would have been just another “Come ya, what ya” chat, but for one small thing.
“Eyy, he is sooo cuuuute yaaa”
“Chee.. where is your eyeses, ya?“
And Deborah Miss of the title is my 1st standard teacher who taught English, Maths, Science and most of the things I learned at age 5. She would rap us on the knuckles for bad handwriting, tirelessly correct the errors in our pronunciation and grammar… even when we were in highschool. Wonder what she says whenever she hears people talking like this…
I still remember the video cassette that my uncle gave me when I was seven, of a few Warner Bros. Cartoons, With Little Red Riding Hood, two bugs bunny ones, Three eggs Tom, Dick and Harry (Harry fails to come out of the egg and gets lost with only a pair of legs out of his shell) and I hazily remember something about stone age men and a dino which saves them from trouble. From then on, for more than a decade I was addicted to these moving drawing that enacted and said things which made me laugh my head off and roll over my back. I think it is the impersonality, the underlying (for want of a better word) mockery, the humor, and creativity that appealed these to me the most.
I haven’t been a great fan of Tom and Jerry, the early ones of Joseph Hanna & William Barbera for MGM, partly due to the lack of dialogue and the constant theme of cat chasing the mouse and mouse getting away, which can get slightly boring. Then there were Flintstones and Jetsons, both of them, the real world interpolated to the stone and the space ages and perfectly timed for fun during lunch during summer holidays. And Scooby Doo, which bored me with the recurring “Oh! Those Pesky Kids!!” (Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes provided better detective stories :P). And Yogi Bear, Huckle Berry Hound (Oh my Darlin’! Oh my Darlin’! Oh my darlin’! Clementine!) and Smurfs (Ooooohhh I Lurve those blue people). How can I forget Dexter with his ever curious sis DeeDee and the occasional appearance of Mandark, Dexter’s Arch Rival who had a thing for DeeDee). Then my favorite , Bugs Bunny with its carrot munching, extremely kühlheaded, “Gee, Whats up doc?” . Johnny Bravo (Heyyy Pretty mama!!!), Pinky and the Brain, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Top Cat(Hes the most tip top, tadadada, Top Cat!), Dial M for Monkey, The road Runner show (Which I thought was a poor cousin of Tom and Jerry) and a gadzillion others.
Does anyone remember Crocadoo which came in ’96? The show was pathetic but the title song was quite catchy. There was also this “Today’s Cartoon Network Thing to Do” coming up with really bizzaire things. Laf-la-lympics, where Scooby’s Team always came first closely followed by The Yogi Yaahooees and The Really Rottens always at the bottom, hosted by Pink Panther and another cat I don’t remember. DonWanObeKanobe and Sheep in the big city (There were only two or three episodes of this I think), Another time they came up with a bird playing songs by Josie and the Pussycats.
The real low for Cartoon Network came when it started playing (No not Pokemon/CardCaptors/Jackie Chan Adventures) Flintstones kids and Scooby Doo Kids, where the focus became CateringNewCartoonsForACartoonHungryAudience rather than creativity and exploring the realms of the human psyche. They came up with all sort of things like Courage the Cowardly Dog, and OH! I dont remember because I switched over to Nickelodeon . All those Nickelodeon fans might remember Rugrats, The wild Thornberrys, and Hey! Arnold. They started another channel PoGo, or was it already there? with Enid Blyton’s Noddy, and Bob the builder and some hotdog like daschund…
After going to NITK i just lost touch with Cartoons and the telivisions. Now I dont know what is going on there…
Cartoons/animation are really wunnerfulthings. I really hope they make better ones, for this generation kids will really miss some thing.
Well, Thats all Folks!!
So Mr. Obama is being heralded as America’s first African-American Presidential candidate. Great, but…
This man is the offspring of a white woman and a Kenyan who had enough resources to pursue his higher studies abroad.
Brought up largely by his White grandparents.
He never really underwent what African-Americans actually go through… in terms of discrimination and lack of opportunities, if that’s what the community goes through…., he doesn’t even share a history with them.
And yet he is being heralded as some sort of a new dawn or whatever. Is this plain tokenism or is it something else?
Contrast that with India, where we’ve had a Dalit president, one of the Minority community, and a woman, too.. and we don’t seem to be making enough noise about that. And still people talk of the disparity, of minority-bashing, of us being an inequal society…
What conclusions can we draw?
PS: I’m curious to know if an African, say, a Nigerian in America and an African-American are treated the same in the USA. Is the affirmative action etc to make up for historical wrongs, or is it to provide an incentive for those who are negatively discriminated based on skin colour/ethnicity? More specifically, can a child of migrants from Botswana put down her ethnicity as African-American and walk away with all the benefits? In India we have authorities issuing caste certificates… if indeed affirmative action is provided on basis of race in the US, do they have authorities issuing race certificates? How does the whole thing work out there?
I come across a lot of jokes here and there. It really irks me when I’m reminded of a really good one and can’t for the hell of me recollect the punchline, or when I remember the punchline and forget about the story behind it.
So here it is… Chuckle and Guffaw – A collection of all the jokes I come across, and think is good.
Do give it a read, subscribe to its feeds, blogroll it, tell your friends.
And.. if you have some nice ones, do pass them on this way.