When the movie was advertised as the first movie where an actor essayed 10 roles, I wondered - no I hoped that - this gimmick wasn't the movie's only selling point. Why would one mention it so much? Ajith in Citizen did that mistake. An actor playing 10 roles is not why I would go and watch any movie. That's a bad reason to go watch a movie. The story that necessitates the 10 roles and one that binds those characters together in a single cogent screenplay would make the movie worth watching. Thats what I was expecting out of Dasavatharam. The connection, the essence that makes it all look sensible. MMKR was a movie magic because everything, the roles, the dialog and the story flow just made sense. In Dasavatharam nothing makes sense. When the movie started with "first time in the world where an actor is playing 10 roles" - I was taken aback at the cheap gimmick. Who in the world cares? Whats that claim going to fetch? The story does not require that there be 10 characters. Most of them cannot effectively influence the path of the vial. So - their infuence is contrived. In fact most of characters are plain idiotic. Bush does not influence it and Ranagaraja Nambi does not influence anything. I was predicting that Bush would influence the vial by not informing Indian Govt in advance about the impending Tsunami. Because in that context the tsunami was more beneficial than destructive. But the movie was so vague in this aspect that I lost interest.
Humor is probably the biggest casualty in this movie. the dialogs were boring, stupid and my god were they unfunny. Kamal haasan has given 'asattu' jokes new meaning. There were a few good to lame jokes that Balaram Naidu (spanned the spectrum from "Rao'oda Rao" - to - "speak 5 languages in telegu") cracked for the front benchers but pretty much every single dialog was a mess. If this is the best humor that Kamal Haasan can come up with then he should let Crazy Mohan or someone do the dialogs. There is no need to talk about the songs. They were all bad. Every single one of them. Himesh Reshamaiyya or whoever it is could have farted and that would have been better music. Because multiple Kamal Haasans fight each other, CGI is important. And since most of the movie is filled with such stunt sequences one would hope they better be good. They are not. There are strange close-ups, jarring slow-motions, and odd fast-forwards that look weird. The continuity is completely gone. And it is impossible to achieve some sort of acceptable continuity or fluency in the stunts given the constraints Kamal has set for himself. The least he could have done is try and lift a Perumal Kovil Utsavar and test if it can be lifted so lightly and thrown around like a barbie doll. With Kamal Haasan flying around and jumping buildings and cars like the way Rajinikanth used to do in the 80s - means that the stunt department gets zero marks. The Tsunami scene is over hyped. It looks ordinary. So lets not get into that. Among actors - Asin is plain irritating. I am pretty sure most of the viewers would have been happy if the Asin character had been shot dead midway.
The story is rather simple. I don't suppose anyone can spoil it. A biological weapon is on the loose and the scientist who invented it tries to protect it from being used by a terrorist organization. Christian Fletcher, an ex-CIA agent who represents the terrorist organization is the best of the 10 roles. While his accent is stylish and impeccable, he looks funny. I mean the make-up. Its pretty bad. But in this movie you have to take what you get. The problem with Kamal Haasan playing white male characters like Bush and this ex-CIA guy is that they don't look like real people. Remember the movie 'Mask'. In the last scene the villain puts on the Mask and takes a grotesque form. Kamal Haasan has a similar unshapely (and oddly large) face while essaying both these roles. Most times when Fletcher fell down or got beaten up, I wondered if the make-up would come off. Krishnaveni Patti and Balaram Naidu get joint second place. The Japanese guy was superfluous. The Dalit guy is ornamental. That Kalif Ullah character, especially his slow voice, was plain irritating apart from being unneccessary (he does not influence the path of the vial). Since I travelled the Chidamabaram -> Madras route extensively last summer, the route that the characters take was jarring. After a point I couldn't relate whether Avtar's sing's concert (the hospital etc) was in Pondi or Madras. The movie was in too much of a hurry to make it clear. If that is the case then it shouldn't have taken a partial dig at details. Kamal Haasan continues to get tangled in the language boundaries. He did a similar mistake in Hey Ram. He has Japanese girl , Kalif Ulla (who is not a native speaker), and even Bush speaking Thamizh. This actually reduces the movie into a mockery. The caste-based caricatures and the stereotypes that he makes is actually very immature. Several times I thought "che nee ivalavudhaana".
Screenplay is the third leg that breaks. The screenplay just wanders and drags for most part. The first Rangaraja Nambi part was a separate episode in the screenplay. Not exceptionally well connected to the main story in my opinion. After that disconnected bit, the story attempts to flow in a single thread the way MMKR flowed and the way Mumbai Express tried to flow. The problem is that the Nambi episode is very serious and high adrenalin stuff. That sets the tone of the movie. Balaram Naidu and a huge part of the movie is in a comical tone. The inconsistent tone is confusing for the viewer. Kamal Haasan tries to connect them using chaos theory. MMKR did that better. This movie has its moments, but there were quite a few 10 minute segments that just dragged. Dragged on and on and on. It was bloody boring. After a point one began to wonder what the hell was going one. There were so many scenes that were just unnecessarily there. And they had horrible dialogs. He could have edited out 1 hour from this movie and still made it look as good. In summary, Kamal Haasan fell for his own hype. His giant ego blinded him and probably made him believe that the 10-role novelty and his immature arguments about god and science would carry the movie. He ends the movie showing-off the hard work he put into this movie with a self-praise song. That won't help either. If you are throwing out nonsense, your name better be Rajinikanth. Otherwise it won't work. If he spoken to Rajinikanth and asked him what went wrong with Baba, Rajini would have told him that a movie would crack open and fail the moment you start pushing your personal agenda, belief and arguments. They start intruding into every aspect of the movie. Dasavatharam fails because Kamal Haasan bit more than anyone could ever chew. It is an egomaniac's fart. Don't go anywhere near it. It stinks.