Kamal Rambling Incoherently
The art director mentioned that the 'nambi' character was a real person from Thamizh Nadu. There is no character of religious significance called Ranganatha Nambi that I am aware of. Uttama Nambi, Vaduga Nambi, Kurugoor Nambi are familiar names. This is obviously a fictional character loosely based on some religious character. Who could that be? Seeing the trailer and the Samaasrayanam symbol, shown as a deliberate close-up, in Kamal's upper arms reminded me of another legend in the books that I read about Ramanuja. I love to tell stories. So here is a sad and violent legend. It involved the Saivite vs Vaishnavite feuds in the olden days. Cine actor Vivek couldn't have described it better in Saamy. Kirumi Kanda Chozhan (the name possibly possibly refers to a Chozha king who died of some infection/disease) that I referred to here demanded that everybody regard Siva as the supreme god. When this Chozhan was informed that a saint lived in Srirangam who did not acquiesce with that opinion, the Chozha king ordered that Ramanuja be brought before him. An army was sent to break into the temple and bring back Ramanuja.
Apparently some tense moments followed and finally Kooratalvan (Ramanuja's sishya) persuaded Ramanuja to abandon his sanyasi robe and escape the clutches of the army by wearing non-sanyasi dress. Koorattalvan then assumed Ramanuja's identity and surrendered to the king's army. When brought before the Chozha Raja, he was asked to say and sign that Siva was the supreme and nothing existed in the world that was greater than Siva. Koorattalvan (under the guise of Ramanuja) gave a flippant reply by deliberately interpreting the word 'Siva' to mean the measurement metric of rice and contradicted the Chozhan by claiming that there were higher metrics. The Chozha Raja punished Koorattalvan for his impudence by blinding him. Legend has it that when the hot iron rod to blind Koorattalvan was brought near him, Koorattalvan grabbed the rod plucked his own eyes out - willingly. Koorattalvan is very popular and especially well-known for his tremendous grasp and memory. That if you read out 3 paragraphs to him once he will remember and reproduce it when required.
Kirumi Kanda Chozhan is said to have soon died and his son, who apparently was a more Vaishnavite-friendlier king called back Ramanuja to Srirangam. However, there is no historical record of there ever being a Chozhan called Kirumi Kanda Chozhan. Either he could have be real Chozha Raja whose name was made anonymous or a local Chieftain who was in reality a lackey to a real Chozha king. The promos could lead one to conclude that Napolean plays Kirumi Kanda Chozhan's fictional equivalent. But who knows. That Dasavatharam is a movie that spans different eras which share a common linking theme is the only thing that can be said with some certainty. Here in the movie Ranganatha Nambi is shown to have done something that results in him being persecuted and thrown into the water with the idol. Kamal Haasan can be expected to focus on the evils of religion, jingoism and his religion-leads-to-death theory to show how people lose the plot by 'kallai kandaal kadavul theriyaathu' (if one looks only at the stone one can't see god). However, in the interim one can spend time making silly predictions. It is fun to say these stories or make predictions.
Update: So from the comments section, I have been told that Dasavatharam has to do with events in Chidambaram Temple. I can't believe I missed the oldest story in the book. A long time ago some one showed me a book by this author called Jegansri called ThiruChidambaram (I forget the names now), which had some bayangara stuff. Chidambaram, literally the mothership of the Saivites, does have its share of Saivite-Vaishnavite feud and bloodshed. However, there is no character that I can find called Rangaraja Nambi, who has had any association with the Chidamabaram temple. The timing is also awry as Ramanuja lived between 1017-1137 and the events here are said to have happened in 12th century. So, I don't know where Kamal gets his history from. Anywho - Govindaraja Perumal sits in this temple in the kidanthaan thirukolam (The reclining posture of Vishnu). 32 Paasurams of Thirumangai Azhwar present in the Divya Prabhandam are dedicated to this place called Thiru Chitrakootam. 10 of those paasurams, my good book here says, are composed in the raagam Sankarabaranam, the favorite raagam of Siva. Anapaya Chozhan (Kulothunga Chozhan II - suspected to be the Kriumi Kanda Chozhan), a normally just king, was brain-washed to dispose off the Govindaraja idol. In a weak moment of jingoism he ordered for that idol to be thrown into the Picchavaram sea (This movie apparently has Rangaraja Nambi drown with the idol). Uttai Koothar, Chozhan's poet later composed a poem on how he served a king who threw an idol of Vishnu into the sea.
History has it that Ramanuja successfully managed to restore the idol back to its place many years later. This was so controversial that some Deekshithars jumped from the hill and high walls to their death - in protest(and to make the change inauspicious). The timing of this incident and whether Ramanuja was the one who replaced it is still under severe debate. Chidamabaram has a violent Vaishnavite-Saivite history. The extreme Vaishnavite opinions say that Chidambaram, Kanchi Kamakshi and Ekambareswar temples (all three are still part of 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams) were converted by Chozhas into Saivite temples, whereas the moderate opinion claims that the co-Siva/Vishnu temples were altered to make them primarily Saivite temples. So until the 16th century the services in Gonvindaraja temple were done by Deekshithars (saivite priests) and in the 16th century King Aachudharayar (Krishnadevaraya's brother) employed Bhattacharyas for Govindaraja temple services. This sparked off yet another bloodshed and war.