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Tamil Movie Review 101: Dasavatharam 2008, A Showcase of Kamal’s Acting Prowness

Dasavatharam kamalahasan tamil movie virus

(Dasavatharam is basically a tailor-made movie to showcase Kamal’s technical and acting skills and to his credit, he pulled most it rather well. Image source: Youtube)

Visithra in her blog started the review on the movie with this statement:-

God I wasted 3 and a half hours in a theatre watching a total crap called Dasavatharam. I came out of the movie thinking – Poor KS Ravikumar – someone just bulldozed him out of his own movie.

The truth is  – I had the same impression for my cousin had told me the same thing – don’t waste the 3 hours watching the crap called Dasavatharam! There have been both negative and positive reviews on Kamalhaasan latest venture called “Dasavatharam” (for details of the story, look at Wikipedia entry here).

Anyway, I had the chance to see the movie recently (without the need to pay for it, haha) and I must say that my reaction AFTER watching the movie was mixed.

There have been many reviews on the movie, so let me make it simple and straight to the point.

The story

There is a saying “first impression is the last impression” and certainly the movie makes an interesting first impression with the story going back to the 12th century and the fight against Raja Chola II. One had wished that Kamal (who also penned down the story and script) could have just continued with the 12th century setting as the main story.

The background, language and acting for the 12th century were well executed. It had a mystical aura to it especially when an eagle comes into the picture and leaves with many unanswered questions.

Dasavatharam kamalahasan tamil movie virus

(All images source:

But Kamal decides to fast forward the time to the year 2004 and this is where the story starts to break apart and enters into the realm of boredom and illogical deductions.

The tsunami (although was well done on-screen using CGI) fails to connects the many loose plots in the story. Kamal talks about the Chaos Theory but after sitting and watching Kamal in many roles, playing good-bad guy on screen – the theory remains unexplained to those who are unable to keep up with the pace.

The movie storyline sadly ends up as nothing but a convenient platform for Kamal to portray his 10 roles (which he plays superbly). Perhaps Kamal was making a point with his 10 roles but certainly, we were lost by the middle of the story. Perhaps we misunderstood Kamal’s story (which at times can be ahead of its time).

If one analyses back the storyline, it could have been probably made simpler had Kamal reduced his number of roles and kept the key roles up and in strength (who need “President Bush” character to be poking around in a Tamil movie?).

Dasavatharam kamalahasan tamil movie virus

(All images source:

The roles

Seeing 1 man donning 10 roles over 3 hours is certainly tiring. Perhaps Kamal has not heard about the word “essentials”. It would have a near-perfect if Kamal had stripped his roles to just 3 – the obvious Govind, the comical policeman Balram Naidu and the ruthless killer Fletcher. The rest of the roles, although not for long, was redundant and looked like an afterthought. Perhaps it was done to fill in the “loose gaps in the storyline”.

Dasavatharam kamalahasan tamil movie virus

(All images source:

The cinematography

Simply outstanding!

The lighting and the angle is well executed by Ravi Varnam and it is no surprise to see this quality of work from Ravi, the same who shot the movie Vettaiyaadu Veilaiyaadu.

One interesting shot is in the lab where Govind and his team sits around the TV to hear the President speaking. From a corner of Govind’s eyes, something distracts him and he noticed in the far background, the monkey (in the lab) escapes. This whole scene was nicely done and we share the distraction the same time as Govind does.

Dasavatharam kamalahasan tamil movie virus

(All images source:


The killer CGI piece in the movie has to be the tsunami. Before this movie, I have seen the images of the tsunami in the news and perhaps in National Geography channel but did not really appreciate the magnitude. In this movie, the size of the tsunami may have been amplified to provide the viewers with an overwhelming feeling in the theatre. The CGI does this job fairly well.

Another essential part of CGI is where the multi roles of Kamal are fused in a seeming stream. In one scene, we have Kamal doing several roles but it did not look out of place – it really looked like the different roles were played by different actors. The filmmakers must have made plenty of adjustments in making all roles falls in place – thanks (good acting) and no thanks (taking too many roles) to Kamal.


The thing is about Kamal movies (the ones that are penned by him) is that it takes time to digest. His movie, Hey Ram is one such example – dismissed in the beginning but another look reveals a classic in movie making.

10 roles – my favourite? It has to be Balram Naidu. Kamal is so natural here.

4 thoughts on “Tamil Movie Review 101: Dasavatharam 2008, A Showcase of Kamal’s Acting Prowness”

  1. Quite the insightful review indeed you have here. The responses you quoted reminds a lot of Russel Peter’s jokes about the movies. Quite wondering somewhat how you managed to catch it for free though 😉

    Cheers!!! 😀

  2. Pingback: RIP: Witty Funny Nagesh: 1933 - 2009

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