Monday, 30 June 2008

Dasavaatharam – how Kamal and the media took us for a ride

What do you do when you are old (read 50+) and probably running out of steam? What would you do if you've delivered amazing characters early in your life and not matching them of late? You are a script-dialogue-screenplay, find a fat producer, cast yourself in all possible avathars (how I dread that word now) and call it Dasavaatharam.
For a person who has always rated Kamal Hasaan as a superior actor, especially when compared to his contemporary Rajinikanth, for various critical reasons, this latest offering by the 'Universal Hero' is nothing but a desperate show of glorified nothingness. Only if we had it, I would have dialled 911 to save me from the ordeal, torture and trauma that came in the form of 180-odd minute diarrhoea on celluloid. Not only is the actor a shadow of what he used to be but it seems that he has lost the ground beneath his feet. Often quoted by the mavericks of the industry as an all-season actor, his recent movies only glare one message – this is an actor who is in search of a genre which can befit his ventures, an actor who is trying to make a point, an actor who is desperately trying to make the audience gasp, tears roll down their cheeks, give that edge-of-the-seat feeling.
If his movies in the recent past were premonitions and signs of what were in the waiting, D-10 is the proof of the decline in the standard of cinema he chooses and is associated with.
This new movie, D-10, thanks to the new-age-marketing-gurus will be a hit. The regular talks in the media, the promos have over-satiated the audience that anyone and everyone would want to see the ‘magic’ in the ten-roles-rolled-into-one movie. It will be a hit, a hit to the scale that it would recover the invested money. Would this hold any relevance as a blip on the radar of Tamil cinema or in the actor’s personal profile? – I am sure not. For the best it can be cherished as a magnum opus that should not have happened. It is a blip on the radar – a sign of danger or an itch that is in the larger frame a sign of the times we are in. a time when marketing cacophony is good cinema and not performances.
For the industry this is just another movie which is in tune with the trend at the box office. Hyperbole media attention before the release, aggressive marketing and shrewd publicity is the underlying factor of any present day blockbuster-movie. Most of the movies are but the hero-action-songs-item numbers and D-10 has all of this. The technology is refreshing but not awe creating. There are a few scenes which can be counted as different but the difference ends there.
Kamal Hassan might be a happy man to have donned ten hats or perhaps nine different G-R-O-T-E-S-Q-U-E make-ups but sure not in the top few movies of his good movies. It seems that the actor came up with ten different characters – representing different countries, race, languages, and gender – and wove a movie around it. Or to a thread of a story got this brilliant idea of 10-roles-one-movie-first-time-in –history and made the movie. Except for two – being generous – three roles the others are but a glorified fancy dress competition. Probably Kamal got hooked to the Avaishanmughi routine of extreme-long-sessions-of-make-up and wanted to test it to the maximum in this ten-in-one.For an actor, a thespian of emotions, who has graced the silver screen for more than three decades, this is not just an amateur and uncalled movie but an uncalled and to-be-kind-to-the-movie – uncouth one.