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Review: Dashavtar

Most of the avatars in the film are more about makeup wizardry and prosthetics than the triumph of craft, use of body language and voice modulation, says Shashi Baliga.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2009 17:44 IST
Shashi Baliga

Dashavtar
Cast: Dr Kamal Haasan, Asin, Mallika Sherawat
Direction: K S Ravikumar
Rating: * 1/2

Some movies are interminably long. Some, terribly painful. Some, gimmicky, some self-indulgent. Some are dominated by one actor. Some seem to have been abandoned by the editor. Some are bizarre, some leave with you a headache. Some make you wish they had two intermissions. And some offer you the ‘making of ‘ bits with the movie itself; they don’t wait for the dvd. This one is a combination of them all. <b2>

If you found that first paragraph repetitive to the point of being painful, there’s your taste of Dashavtar, the Hindi version of the Tamil hit Dasavatharam.

The movie seems to be but an excuse for the glorification of Dr Kamal Haasan (as he’s listed in the credits). The actor, who’s also written the story and screenplay gets to play (not in chronological order) a temple priest, an NRI scientist, a Bengali RAW agent, a Punjabi pop singer, a swarthy TV journalist, an abnormally tall man, an American hitman, an old woman, a Japanese martial arts expert and George Bush (yes).

The last five, for reasons related perhaps to the limitations of latex, all have a pasty white look that might remind you of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, except that Gollum looked more natural.

(Er, did we miss out any? Was there a dwarf in there somewhere? Or a man dressed as a woman? Oh no, those were done in Appu Raja and Chachi 420, remember?)

So what’s this assorted bunch doing in one movie? They’reall involved directly or tangentially in the hunt for a vial of a deadly bio-chemical weapon that the scientist has hidden for safekeeping.

The scientist and the vial are chased across land and sea; by car, motorbike, train and helicopter. While Kamal Haasan jumps from one avatar to the other, numerous people are hurled, hammered, killed and impaled (like poor lap dancer-cum-secret agent Mallika Sherawat) in relentless bouts of violence that make Ghajini look like a walk in the woods. (You begin to understand why Asin makes her entry wailing and continues pretty much that way through the whole movie.) It finally takes a tsunami to end the proceedings.

By then, you have had more than your fill of Kamal Haasan, Kamal Haasan and more Kamal Haasan. The build-up for each of the 10 avatars is at best, tedious and many of them are plain ludicrous. His RAW agent, for instance, has him speaking Hindi with a disconcerting combination of a fake Bengali accent and his natural Tamilian one.

Worse, most of the avatars are more about makeup wizardry and prosthetics than the triumph of craft, use of body language and voice modulation that he offered us in Chachi 420. For sure, few Indian actors could have carried off this 1 x 10 tasveer. But 2 hrs, 40 minutes of a bad thing makes it a gimmick gone horribly, self-indulgently long.