Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ten For The Price Of One

Panic in the streets of London ... panic in the streets of Birmingham ... chaos in the cinemas ... because Dasavatharam has sold out completely ...

Well, there's not really any panic, but it might seem like so. That's why the words to The Smiths' song came to my head. I was on my way to the cinema after failing to book tickets for the latest Kamal Hassan vehicle. I'd tried to get a contact in one of the cinema chains to help me book a ticket, but was told all shows have been fully booked or are sold out. Then the bus passed a cinema in my town and I saw crowds spilling out of the cinema and onto the street. It was amazing.

I managed to get one of those unclaimed bookings at the last minute. Trying to get into the jam-packed house was crazy. It was the first time I had ever had to queue up to GET IN to a cineplex hall. But all the trouble was really worth it.

Dasavatharam is a Kamal Hassan movie for Kamal Hassan fans. He's done some really out-there stuff in his movies, but this one is the ultimate. He takes on prosthetics, special digital composites and effects, and plays 10 different characters with nary a hitch. The astounding effects manage to make him a giant; a frail, short old lady; a paunchy police guy; and a buff, ancient hero. Well, the last one isn't really a special effect but Kamal in his real self. And I haven't mentioned him playing George W. Bush and an assassin who's somewhat of a tribute to Arnie, Stallone and all those American action guys of the 80s.

I don't even want to talk about the story (which spans centuries and continents, but is mainly about a scientist who tries to stop a virus he created from falling into the wrong hands), because there's already so much to talk about Kamal Hassan in this movie. But yes, the story is about how everything in this world is connected in some ways, and presents this in both religious and scientific perspectives.

The use of a real 2004 event in the story may be uncomfortable to some, but hey, we're here to watch Kamal Hassan in action, and he sure delivers. In spades. The movie has everything - action, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, romance, natural disaster, martial arts, car chases, motorbike chases, lorry chases, singing, dancing - and it's hilarious and exhilarating. But the best thing has to be when Kamal Hassan dukes it out with himself.

That has to be worth more than the price of admission.

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