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Dasavatharam bits

In the Internet era, as news spreads wide and far, fast and furiously, mainstream media (MSM) can’t afford to lag behind. Instead of providing stale news, they need to differentiate themselves. Kumudham, a top magazine in Tamil Nadu, belongs to this tribe. In addition to providing tidbits about the upcoming Dasavatharam, they have also put their imagination to use and come up with new get-ups for Kamal. Check out and be amused: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4. Similarly, Tamil Murasu carries something small.

Highlights:

  • A mini-movie on the making of Dasavatharam has also been shot and is expected to release around April 14 (Tamil New Year’s day).
  • Shooting for 8 of the 10 roles are completed.
  • Kamal was ready with the idea of Dasavatharam 6-7 years ago; he was awaiting a producer who could afford a big budget.
  • There are 8 heroines in the movie.
  • Many of Kamal’s roles are revealed only in the climax scene.
  • Dasavatharam is said to be filled with car and bike chase sequences.
  • In addition to a make-up specialist from Hollywood, there are 13 others from Europe. Their remuneration alone works out to 2 crores of Rupees!

Kamal on Gandhi

This is an update to the earlier post on the launch of Tushar Gandhi’s Let’s Kill Gandhi. Behindwoods has posted their video of Kamal’s speech at the event — quite an enjoyable one at that!

[Video courtesy: BehindWoods]

Kamal & ‘Gandhigiri’

Kamal too has joined the ‘Gandhigiri’ fever — well, kind of. Recently, he launched Tushar Gandhi’s book, titled Let’s Kill Gandhi, in Chennai. In an interview at the event, he said his “life is inspired by Gandhiji” and called Gandhi “a worthy hero”. Check out the video on IBN Live for Gandhi and more. An ace up the sleeve for Gandhigiri, after the disgraceful video of Gautham Prasad.

IndiaGlitz has a lengthy video and photos too. Also, an ardent fan has clicked some photos.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

[Editor’s Note: Today, we have Raju, a new contributor to this blog! Please welcome…]

Sivaji family wedding photos

Here are some fine photographs from the wedding of Vikram, Prabhu’s son and the legendary Sivaji Ganesan’s grandson…

Kamal, Rajni, Prabhu and Karunanidhi with the couple

Kamal, Rajni and Karunanidhi share a lighter moment

Kamal flanked by Gowthami and Aksharaa

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Kamal in Balu Mahendra’s venture

Veteran filmmaker Balu Mahendra has announced that he will start a film institute in Chennai by September. Balu’s long association with Kamal (Kokila to Sathi Leelavathi) continues, with the latter being roped in to provide classes on acting. Yet another dimension to our multi-faceted personality!

Dasavatharam: first official press release

Behindwoods and IndiaGlitz have reported that the first official press release of Dasavatharam is out. Many rumours have turned out to be true while others remain unconfirmed. Highlights:

  • Kamal plays Rangaraja Nambi, a Vaishnavite who opposes Kulothunga Chozhan, the king (played by Napoleon), in the 12th century.
  • Kamal also plays a scientist based in the US.
  • Art director Prabhakaran’s sets received accolades for the sets of the research centre.
  • Kamal was unrecognisable in the US and Malaysia shooting schedules; the make-up man from the US is Mosher.
  • Scenes involving eight of the ten characters are complete; shooting will end in April.
  • Kamal has co-written the story, screenplay and dialogues.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Shruthi update

Some news about Shruthi, Kamal’s daughter has been trickling now and then. Behindwoods reported that she is now studying in the USA and that she is pursuing a singing career. Meanwhile, some of her modelling photos (source unknown) were posted on the Nilesh Babu blog.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Dasavatharam: Malaysia shooting details

With the Internet and blogging boom, no place on earth is far away from a computer. Few details about the shooting of Dasavatharam in Malaysia have come up from the public. Behindwoods published an e-mail and photo from a reader who talks about Kamal playing a Hokkaido master (!) in an unrecognisable get-up. The shooting seemed to have happened for about 4 days, from February 10 to 13. Similar news was available on Galatta.com and Yahoo.

The Singeetham connection

A big thanx to all visitors of this blog who have brought it to the hundredth post!

The hundredth post on this blog had to be special. I stumbled upon something unique a while ago on PassionForCinema and felt that all Kamal fans would be delighted by it. Wander Beyonder a.k.a. WB had done a four-part series on Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao, with part of it focussing on Kamal. It carried never-before-heard insights into their partnership. With his permission, I have culled portions of interest and present it to you here…

Two is a Team

Kamal Haasan has a peculiar pickiness when it comes to acting. His fetish of experimenting with his looks, his inflexibility towards some people, making them feel insecure, inadequate, or threatened — and his bias towards some others, etc.

K. Balachander, K.Vishwanath, K.S. Ravikumar, Mani Ratnam, Suresh Krissna and Singeetham Srinivasa Rao are a few directors who tried showing, exploring, and experimenting with the innate restlessness of Kamal to his satisfaction. Singeetham, not unlike K.Vishwanath, has Kamal completely in control and that is a rare thing for Kamal.

Singeetham and Kamal actually go back sometime. Their relationship started in Mumbai and grew in Chennai over a series of discussions and brainstorming sessions. Two thinkers — burning with an incessant desire to rewrite the movie making history with innovation — travelling on the uncharted lands of creativity, were levitated by their passion for cinema. They wanted to make a different movie and ended up making “sommokoDadidi sOkokaDidi”, a trend-setter in its own way.

The Ancient Mariner Meets the New Navigator!

When Singeetham went to Bombay to receive the Filmfare award for Dikkatra Parvathi (based on Rajaji’s novel), he first met Kamal. Kamal was there to receive the Best Actor award for a Malayalam movie. The two crazy men planned to make a movie together — a different film but ended up making a comedy — and they delivered a runaway hit in “sommokoDadidi sOkokaDidi”.

Later in 1980 when Kamal decided to launch his own production house, he asked Singeetham to direct the first film — production number one. This time they truly attempted a different film, Raajapaarvai (dubbed as Amaavasya Chandrudu in Telugu) on the visually impaired. Thotta Tharani made his debut as an art director with this film, released in1981.

That bonding — and the synergy, and the chemistry, and the perfect sync of wanton artistry — between these two stalwarts resulted in many experimental blockbusters from Apoorva Sagodharargal, Michael Madana Kamarajan, Magalir Mattum and the path-breaking silent film Pushpaka Vimana (Pesum Padam in Tamil and Pushpak in Hindi) to the recent Mumbai Xpress.

Sommokadidhi Sokokadidhi — the Cheque is Yours and the Meal is Mine

Twins, one wise and the other otherwise, changing places, comedy of errors, dons, dens, family shackled, goons tackled, good prevails, group photo!

This story has been made a hundred times. What’s the big deal about this particular movie? In fact Rajesh Khanna acted in a remake of this very movie (Hum Dono). So, what makes this SS of SSR so special?

Singeetham! Kamal! Jandhyala!

These are the three names that made all the difference. Singeetham at helm was already famous for his subtle sense of humor as it was sampled by the viewers of his previous movies. This was his first full length comedy and he did take it seriously. Enter Jandhyala — the wittiest Telugu writer that was ever born — and Kamal, the excited molecule in the whole equation. What’s the result? Two and a half hours of non-stop slapstick.

Aakasham nee haddu ra, avakaasam vadaloddura — you are right dude, sky is the limit, and leave no opportunity go in vain!

An Urban Legend

During the shoot one day the camera that was used for shooting Kamal in slo-mo gave some unexpected trouble. Singeetham was not happy. Kamal called Singeetham aside and said “I think I have a workaround, just go and ask for the take using the regular speed” and so did the director. The director shouted “action”, camera was rolling in speed, and Kamal then did a slo-mo move - a perfect slow motion run while the camera was running at 24fps. The crew were ecstatic - the hero really saved the day! Rest of the scenes were shot using the speed-cam when the glitch got fixed. Singeetham later dared his friends, while previews, to find out the shot in which Kamal did his ‘move’. Of course, no one could.

Raajapaarvai & the Post-mortem

A blind musician falls in love with a beautiful girl. The girl’s father doesn’t like this situation, but his father (girl’s grandfather) blesses the couple, and they both, somehow, live happily ever after. Is that all? Hell, NO! Amazing screenplay, futuristic edits, heavenly BGMs, and never-seen-before camera shots — backed by a powerful and a really hatke screenplay by Kamal — the film was a technically futuristic feast to eyes, ears and soul. In an era when traditional techniques were ruling the roost in the South, this movie ushered in a whiff of freshness and showed how technique could really help the story. A new genre took shape in the history of South Indian Cinema.

Being Kamal’s 100th movie, and with all the big names associated - Singeetham at the helm, Ilaiyaraaja as the MD, Kamal scripting, producing, and playing the blind protagonist, Madhavi playing his lover, Chandrahaasan acting as her father, and the legendary L.V.Prasad playing the role of her grand father — this movie was released amidst very high expectations.

First day, the adrenalin rush — excited fans, young men, college girls, and of course the Kamal fans association members throng the theaters in Tamil Nadu, in hundreds, expecting some crazy Kamal-ish antics.

Shows begins - Kamal is blind (oh no!), Madhavi look sexy (good, keep the fires burning), L.V. Prasad is awesome (long live, old man), Chandrahassan sucks (take your black humor and shove it! We don’t want to think.), Ilaiyaraaja plays his classical best (Hmm. What’s with this cocktailing man? Give us western or give us classical) and Singeetham has a new stylized technique (now, tell the story already) - show ends.

And the fans ask, “WTF was that“?

But that was 25 years ago (1981).

Ilaiyaraaja’s celestial compositions — picking a classical raaga — carnatic style — starting with a solo Violin and then adding a sitar and then a mrudhangam and later a tabla — then slowly sneaking in a synthesizer and then a bass guitar and suddenly, before you even realize it, Thyaragaja meets Mozart and the Carnatic meta-morphs into Western Classical, and then again, with a sleight of the hand, Mozart hands over the baton to Thyagaraja and the explosive Rock is re-morphed into Carnatic music again. All this in two minutes. Thalaivaa! aNDruM, inDruM, enDruM, neenga nijamAvae maestro dAn!

The songs… Andhimazhai — the musical showers, Azhagey Azhagu — the sensual shivers, the BGMs in every scene, the camera, the smart edits — the movie would be a blockbuster hit if it’s released today!

Let me try to give you a sample of the genius that Singeetham and Kamal have shown in this movie.

Scene: The girl has a prescheduled rendezvous — to meet her blind lover. However her Dad doesn’t leave until it’s about time — she cannot step out until he leaves. Dad leaves for airport and the girl rushes out to meet her lover at their “spot”. How did they shoot this scene?

Shot: Madhavi is in the frame behaving like she’s on drugs, with the mental energy of a road runner or an E2 Bunny, at a super speed - in the same frame are her father and others shown in slow-motion. Dad is delaying his depature and the speed frame on Madhavi’s side perfectly captures her impatience and restlessness - dad finally leaves to the airport. Madhavi sees him from the balcony, boarding a cab, grand father is next to her, the taxi carrying her dad takes a turn around the corner of the street, she disappears from the frame. The BGM - a single theme musical bit will be playing in slow tempo and other set of instruments in normal speed capturing the contrast in the sense of urgency felt by various characters in the frame. One word — awesome!

I still remember the bit in one of the songs where Kamal starts sketching a landscape and slowly, oh so slowly, the landscape on the canvass is in the frame and is being transformed into the actual location - with Ilaiyaraja the great playing notes that pluck at your heart strings - got to be seen to be believed. And all this was 25 years ago!

Oh! How they would enjoy this master piece, if they could watch the movie now!

When Singeetham unveiled Kamal’s Raajaparvai there were no takers. The movie was a box-office disaster and was deemed by critics as an experiment — “the content was too modern, too path-breaking for the audience” of that time. Singeetham however has given shape to a new genre — aesthetic sensibility or commercial art house — in mainstream Tamil cinema.

After the debacle of Raajaparvai, both Kamal and Singeetham removed their “thinking” hats and went back to do what their fans originally expected them to do - delivering commercial hits, that is.

[To be continued…]

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Part II

Dasavatharam: Malaysia shooting, another hurdle cleared

Information regarding Malaysia leg of Dasavatharam shooting was first reported on this blog and has been lapped up by other sites later. There is talk of this being the costliest Kamal movie ever and Kamal being in touch with Crazy Mohan for the dialogues.

Earlier, there was some news of Oscar Ravichandran running into trouble with some exhibitors (in Tamil) over Vijay’s Aadhi. Now, the issue is settled and yet another hurdle for the release of Dasavatharam has been cleared.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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