It has been a wallet-bursting last few weekends at the movies:
The Happening, Dasa, Hulk, Mongol and Dasa again.
Hulk could have as well been an animated feature and Mongol is just too amazing a piece of art to write about on a Friday afternoon (I refuse to say anything about ‘The Happening’). That leaves me with the one film I have waited impatiently for over half a year. Literally.
So, when I actually settled into my seat (first day, 2nd show), I had an embarrasingly wide grin on my face. And like everyone else, I too was nailed to my seat during the first 10 minutes. What followed though was a roller coaster ride of amazement and disappointment in equal measure, so much so that I left the theatre without knowing whether I actually liked the film or not. The second helping did not help either.
For what its worth, my ‘Dus’ things about Dasa:
1. Dasa ends with a montage of Kamal, ‘before, during and after’ the make up of each character (with the ‘ulaga nayagane’ track in the background). This is before the credits begin and so, seemed like he intended the audience to see it as part of the actual feature!!!! Its a minor detail, but it kinda gives us an insight into the thought process behind this film. This clearly is a ‘come and see what all I can do’ kinda gig and not the ‘come, watch and get blown away’ types. For some strange reason, I just assumed it would be the latter.
2. I think the folly of Dasa was the fact that much of its brilliance was too subtle to be noticed, let alone appreciated.
3. Almost no paati I have met in real life has had forearms that reminded me of Sanath Jayasuriya.
4. I have a sikh friend whose Tamil is way better than some of my Tamil friends. So I dont have a problem with Avtaar singing in Tamil. However, I do have a problem with him mouthing a phrase like ‘Paarada Maanuda’
5. People say that the Tsunami sequence special effects were bad. Of course they were. This is a $25 Million film. That is half the budget of ‘The Happening’ (which at $60 Million is considered a teeny weeny small budget film). Even if you subject all the animation engineers in India into bonded labour, you cannot do much with $25 Million. Having said that, there is just no excuse for the scene where some police constables flee the rising ocean as if they were running away from a mouse on the loose.
6. The subtle brilliances. So many! The shot at the hospital with 4 kamals criss-crossing and the car chase with 2 kamals inside the car must have all been shot on multiple days. To have managed the same lighting and to have choreographed extras over and over again, etc must have been a continuity nightmare, pulled off brilliantly. I think the biggest indication that those scenes worked is that not many talk about it!
7. I totally loved the ‘conspiracy theories’ of the undying Kamal fan (http://sathyaphoenix.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/the-mapping-of-each-ten-roles-to-avatars-in-dasavatharam/). Some of them actually seem plausible.
8. Prosthetics kick ass. I think we all know that. Kamal’s linguistic and voice modulations kick ass. We all know that too. These obviousnesses kinda brought down the novelty of 10 for me.
9. I think critics are having a field day butchering Kamal the writer. I dont know about that. I guess there is the script and then there is the premise. “A depiction of the ‘Butterfly Effect’, with a 9th century execution as the ‘flutter of the wings’ and a Tsunami nullyfying the effect of a biological weapon as the ‘tornado’……In an industry that has been pre-occupied with ‘boy meets girl’ and ‘good man kicks bad man’s ass’ for the last 75 years, I think this is pretty ground breaking.
10. Like sky diving or cardiac surgery, cinema too has no points for ‘trying’. In the end it is all about the folks in the dark room with their backs to the projector, who paid to see your film. They either like what they see or they dont. It doesnt matter if you spent 100 hours to get into a plastic mask. They are still gonna come out and say “Hey that ‘paati’ did not look real, yaar!”.