Archive for June, 2008

Dasavathaaram: box-office performance silences the opposition!

First, they created controversies. Then, they dragged the makers to court. When the movie released after crossing the numerous hurdles, they pounded it with bad reviews and spread rumours. Finally, here is the box-office performance to silence them all and delight Kamal’s fans.

The Economic Times has published a lengthy article featuring an interview with the producer, Aascar V Ravichandran. Here go the highlights:

The producer says that a state like Kerala grossed Rs 2 crore in the first week. “To date, the film has generated revenues worth Rs 100 crore and it has the potential to bring in as much as $100 million (over Rs 400 crore),” he claims.

To get deeper into the numbers, the film overall will have 1,300 prints which will include the Hindi version as well. Tamil Nadu alone had 275 prints with Kerala and Karnataka accounting for 85 and 80 prints respectively. The Telugu version of Dasavatharam had as many as 260 prints. “We will have 190 prints for the overseas markets and there will be another 400 for the Hindi audiences,” says Ravichandran.

…he is able to give the project his best when he distributes the film himself. “I have distributed the film on my own in India and across the world as well,” he says.

“We took two years to finish the project. Without Kamal Haasan, it would have taken ten years,” says Ravichandran quite candidly.

He is effusive about the actor and is clear when he says that it was his indefatigable attitude that saw the project through. “Never once did the actor ask for a break or say he was too tired,” recalls Ravichandran.

Ask Dasavatharam’s producer Venu Ravichandran if he was worried about how expensive this project could be and the answer is an emphatic NO. “Well, it came to Rs 60 crore eventually but I never ever had an estimate,” he says.

Reports have been coming in from other quarters too: CineSouth | The Indian Star | DailyIndia.com.

[With inputs from Ananth]

[Graphic courtesy. The Economic Times]

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Dasavathaaram: guru’s view + a review

K Balachander was delighted by Dasavathaaram and we already heard about it. But here are his exact thoughts.

I liked the film immensely for the wonderful dialogues and the way it has been mounted. I saw the film again. Being a student of cinema I’ll watch it a third time because he’s achieved so many things in one film. I have a few things to learn.

I have a lot to learn from him as far as technique is concerned. He’s outgrown everyone in Indian cinema.

He’s a man who revels in freshness. The effort he puts in is phenomenal. Others are only making money. This man has taken two years to complete this film. He could have amassed four times the wealth if he’d worked in more films.

…Kamal teaches everyone and fine tunes every other artiste’s performance on the set. He’s selfish to the extent that he wants the product to be good.

I told him I didn’t know what to make after watching the film and he said, “You made me.” I was touched.

This interview is brought to you by S Shivakumar in The Hindu. Regular readers of this blog would have seen other stuff from him earlier — Vishnuvardhan on Kamal and interview with Kamal. As seen in the above article, Shivakumar himself has not made up his mind about the movie. Here goes his review, reproduced with his permission.

The opening scene is riveting. Set in the 12th century it shows a lone Vaishnavite taking on the Shaivite ruler attempting to replace Vishnu with Shiva in a temple. His resistance and eventual submergence in the sea tied to the idol of his lord is brilliantly shot. Cut to the present where an Indian scientist is being honoured for saving the country from a biological weapon he’s developed. Rewind to the recent past. Our scientist helps in developing a weapon of in a vial which has the potential for mass destruction. He gets wind of the fact that his boss is trying to sell it off. The vial is mistakenly shipped to India and now scientist and an ex-CIA agent turned mercenary are in hot pursuit of it for different reasons.

A simple enough story but Kamal decides to pack in his beliefs, thoughts and philosophy about life into the three hours. The film talks about the chaos theory, the butterfly effect, atheism, the ecological imbalance that the mindless sand mafia is wreaking and the fact that ultimately nature is the greatest leveler. What sets Kamal apart as a filmmaker and actor is that he doesn’t believe in mindless entertainment. He tries to make people think though he doesn’t thrust his radical views on the paying public. With the failure of masterpieces like ‘Mahanadhi’ and ‘Anbe Sivam’ he tries to pack in humour, action and the sizzling Mallika Sherawat. So does the film work? Only in parts.

The fact is that Kamal has nothing to prove as an actor. He’s undeniably the most gifted actor on-screen. His body of work is unparalleled and is the only actor who’s got success on his terms. So the essaying of ten roles is only of academic interest. The discordant note is that some of the characters he plays have nothing to do with the plot. Mainly the seven foot tall Muslim and the Sardarji pop superstar. The plot thankfully does away with lengthy fights, duets and romance. Kamal the script writer, you feel has bitten off more than he can chew. He’s a gifted screenplay writer with classics like ‘Thevar Magan’, ‘Mahanadhi’ and that cult classic, ‘Micheal Madana Kamarajan’. Here he fails to sew the scenes seamlessly. The narration is jerky in the pursuit of giving importance to all the characters. The ten characters jostle for screen space.

Surprisingly the film is technically tacky. The computer graphics leaves a lot to be desired and the ruthless fury of the tsunami leaves you cold. The photography is brilliant though, especially a chase shot in the night.

Kamal’s acting is flawless. The prosthetics is over done but the way he changes his body language, voice and accent to suit the various characters is breath taking. There’s a brief shot of the Japanese Kung Fu master walking in silhouette. His gait in that brief shot encapsulates his dedication as an actor. Asin’s incessant chatter even in the face of adversity is irritating.

Don’t miss ‘Dashavatharam’. Kamal’s failure as a script writer is more than made up for by Kamal the master of masquerade.

S.Shiva Kumar

Producer: Aaskar Ravichandran

Director: KS Ravi Kumar

Photography: Ravi Varman

Music: Himesh Reshamiya

Cast: Kamalhassan Asin


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Kodaikanal audio release, ‘no’ to Oscars

Last week, Kamal found time to release the audio of Kodaikanal. Bharathiraaja, with whom he had several successful colloborations including Padhinaaru Vayadhinile and Sigappu Rojakkal, received it.

The highlights of the function were the camaraderie between them and Kamal’s decrial of Oscar awards. On the latter subject, Kamal went a little further this time, saying that he would like to see India honouring American movies with awards.

Kamal also recounted the days of their first association and encouraged the “small movie”. Watch all of that on video at IndiaGlitz. IndiaGlitz has photos too, along with Behindwoods and KollywoodToday.com.

Also read reports from Times of India, Sify.com, Thatstamil, Galatta.com, CineSouth, Web Dunia, KollywoodToday.com, Adhikaalai.com, News Today and TamilCinema.com.

[With inputs from Ananth]

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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All Dasavathaaram characters officially revealed!

About a week after Dasavathaaram released, here are the officially released stills of 7 characters not directly publicized till now.

Check out more at Chennai 365, Sify.com and Behindwoods.

[With inputs from Ananth]

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Dasavathaaram: tremendous response!

All kinds of media have been scampering to report about Dasavathaaram — be it in a positive angle and sometimes negative. The hype increased as the movie was making its way to the theatres. Yahoo, Sify.com, Dinamalar, Thatstamil, Galatta.com, Chennai 365, Chennai Online and KollywoodToday.com were among the contributors, sometimes exaggerating numbers and facts. Web-sites like IndiaGlitz featured photos of posters and banners around the city. and fans’ celebrations. The Hindu carried a couple of snippets on theatre happenings.

A news item on NDTV featured prominent fans, Muscat Kannan and Dr. Chandrasekar. The latter was featured in an article in The Hindu too. This piece also had a photo of Gautami celebrating the release with fans.

IndiaGlitz put up a videos of audience responses from Chennai, Hyderabad and Kerala (Thiruvanathapuram?). In Hyderabad, most of the coverage was at Prasad’s Multiplex. Some of the people who spoke seem to be VIPs. For Chennai, the action was at Mayajaal. The verdict is almost unanimous — “Adipoli“, “Chaala baagundhi“, “Super”!

Box-office results are also coming in slowly. The response has been superlative from Chennai ( Webdunia | Yahoo | Sify.com ) to UK and Malaysia to USA — basically everywhere (The Economic Times | Behindwoods). A report from Box Office Mojo seems to indicate that Dasavathaaram even made it to the top 10 movies in terms of overseas collections all over the world. Below is the weekly box-office report from CNN-IBN, which confirms the above.

There was also a report on KollywoodToday.com of many industry insiders being disappointed by the success of the movie.

[With extensive inputs from Ananth]

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Dasavathaaram: my review & thoughts

First, let’s get my disclaimer out. I do not think I can do justice to a review of Dasavathaaram without watching it 2-3 times. Anyway, I decided to put out my thoughts, bowing to reader requests and to counter the slew of negative feedback that has been flowing all over the information superhighway.

The movie moves at break-neck speed most of the time. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen in any movie — in any language, from any country. While I was bit disappointed to not catch everything in one viewing, I was immersed in the entertainment value. (I’m amazed by some of the analyses by fans around the world — maybe, they watched it more than once.)

The really impressive aspect of the movie for me was the screenplay, the same role that Kamal himself admitted to have enjoyed the most. As a person learning screen-writing, I see what a great job it is to beautifully blend so many complex concepts like Chaos Theory and atheism into the script. For an audience wanting pure entertainment, it doesn’t burden them with any sermons that they don’t want to hear. From the days of Michael Madana Kama Rajan, I always believed that Kamal was one of the masters of screenplay in India and this movie probably put him right at the top. Sadly, Kamal has always been viewed as an actor and hence underrated in such areas. (Another digression: it’s amusing to hear people heap Bhagyaraj with such praise, just for making successful and never-boring movies.)

Yes, a couple of characters were probably not required for the story. But with the movie being called what it is, why would we assume that it’s not about the actor? Here, conveniently, some people look beyond the actor. When you go to see a man perform 10 roles in a movie, don’t you need to appreciate his effort in that aspect first? I agree that some of the make-up was overdone and prevented facial expressions. But what about body language and voice-acting? Wasn’t it terrific? Even as the protagonist Govind, did we notice Kamal drop his usual mannerisms?

Special effects were suprisingly tacky in some key scenes. As Brian Jennings admitted, they probably ran out of time and money. Nevertheless, the many scenes involving multiple Kamal characters were wonderfully done.

Rangaraja Nambi showed some difference, Vincent Poovaragan was amazing, Fletcher was uber-cool, Avtaar was goody-goody, Kalifullah was amusing and endearing, Balaram Naidu had us in splits, Krishnaveni Paatti was amusing, George Bush was caricaturish fun and Narahashi quietly made a mark. The supporting cast was adequate, with Asin topping effortlessly as Andaal.

The comedy was mostly refreshing, but fell flat in a couple of places where Kamal attempted slapstick and wordplay like his long-time associate Crazy Mohan.

Songs were quite average, maybe even below that — something we knew several weeks ago. But the screenplay hardly halted for them. The background score was strictly okay; atleast, it wasn’t jarring.

Finally, I am really disappointed with people who claim to be real Kamal fans and compare Dasavathaaram to Nayagan or Mahanadhi or Anbe Sivam. What were they expecting with Aascar Ravichandran as producer and KS Ravikumar as director? Let me clarify that I’m not shifting the blame to these two individuals even one bit. As Kamal fans, we should have understood what we were in for. We should be happy that Kamal was able to put forth great ideas in a commercial format, something which has potential to become a big success, instead of making a movie like Hey Ram (which I worship, by the way) that made its way out of theatres and into university curriculum in no time.

I will write more after watching the movie more times and in other languages. I would love to hear from you in the Comments section.

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Avatharam: music video dedicated to Kamal

Link to video

Here’s a wonderful music video sent in by Arif, dedicated to Kamal on the occasion of Dasavathaaram. It features a fine mash-up of Kamal’s on-screen avatars, the editing being the highlight. Kudos to Arif and team! I’m sure, as fans, you’ll all join me in thanking and congratulating them.

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Dasavathaaram preview photos & reactions

Here are photos from the preview of Dasavathaaram, held for some Kamal’s colleagues, at Four Frames theatre in Chennai.

The attendees included Rajnikanth, K Balachander, Nagesh, Manorama, Prabhu, Radhika, Sathyaraj, Sarathkumar, Surya, Bharath and few directors.

Check out the updates on MSN, IndiaGlitz, Chennai 365 and Adhikaalai.com.

More photos are at Behindwoods.

[With inputs from Ananth]

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Dasavathaaram pre-release digest

Have Dasavathaaram ticket in hand? If you’ve come here to get the last pieces of news before watching the much-awaited movie, here you go, with all that was left out till now and the latest.

[With inputs from Ananth & A1]

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Dasavathaaram: first (VIP) reactions

The Dasavathaaram release is less than a day away in most places whereas some lucky folks in Muscat (and other Arab countries?) have already watched the movie! They are gushing with excitement obviously.

Anyway, before all that, it was the the turn of VIPs. First, it was Tamil Nadu Chief M. Karunanidhi. The man, who has a soft spot for Kamal, was all praise. It was said that ex-CM Jayalalithaa too would get a screening; but that does not seem to be happening.

Kamal’s colleagues in the movie industry, including Rajnikanth, got a special screening. The Hindu carries some wonderful photographs. Check out reactions and reports at Behindwoods and Sify.com (1 | 2).

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