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Dasavatharam (stills) unleashed!!!

Yes, something was brewing at the Dasavatharam camp atleast. The first full set of stills and some news was released today.

Not surprisingly, none of the ‘get-ups’ have been revealed. This set of stills just serves as a teaser, marking the start of the publicity in the run-up to the movie’s release.

The stills feature Kamal, Asin and Mallika predominantly. Some of them match with a few released earlier on Mallika’s Web-site.

Some of the rumours that surfaced earlier are now confirmed with the release of these stills.

Other details that have come up:

  • Two more songs are to be picturised. They will cost about 3 crore (30 million) Rupees and sets for the same are being worked upon currently.
  • The audio will be released in October.
  • A fight sequence with Kamal pitted against Kamal himself was shot for 20 days, employing a Hollywood stunt director. Another chase sequence was filmed in Chidambaram.
  • While Asin dubs for herself for the first time, Kamal is supposed to have used a different voice for each character he plays. Meanwhile, 5000 people have dubbed for a scene involving around 10000 people!
  • English and Japanese linguists have been used for the movie.
  • Several directors have acted in the movie.

Today’s news seems to indicate that a Diwali release isn’t likely. We are probably looking at December.

Read detailed reports and enjoy more stills on The Hindu, Sify.com, Behindwoods and IndiaGlitz.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Kamal A2Z: Avargal

Editor’s Note:
Another reader joins the series! Just about a week more left for ‘A’. C’mon folks!

by Mahesh

I confess that this is not the first movie that would come to mind when you think Kamal Haasan, but for me it does. As Janardhanan, Kamal did not impress me much, but as Junior he did. I became a fan then and continue to be one. I do not recall much about the movie as I last watched it about 15 years ago, but a few things stand out till date:

  1. Kamal acts as a third hero (if you can call it that) in the movie! Talks a ton of the man who is used to care more about the role than his presence.
  2. As a Malayalee accountant Janardhanan, Kamal impressed with his ability to converse in a Malayalam-tinged Tamil.
  3. But the most impressive thing about Kamal in Avargal is his role as Junior. Kamal appears as a ventriloquist in the movie and from what I gather, really learnt the art. I still recall the first scene as Junior when one can see Kamal’s throat muscles move as Junior speaks! Kudos to the man, the actor and the artist.

In my opinion, Avargal sums up Kamal’s performance in many a movie. Caring more about the role than his presence or appearance - illustrated in Apoorva Raagangal, Guna, Swathi Muthyam (Sippikkul Muthu), 16 Vayadhinile, Kalyanaraman, Anbe Sivam, etc. His versatility with languages / accents - MMKR, Tenali, Maharasan, Sathi Leelavathi, Chanakyan, Panchathanthiram, Rama Bhama Shyama, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, etc. His dedication in learning the art to become the character depicted — Sagara Sangamam (Salangai Oli), Punnagai Mannan, Apoorva Sagodarargal etc.

The man really deserves A++.

Forrest Gump based on Swathi Muthyam?

Kamal has often been criticized for “copying” Hollywood movies, be it Avvai Shanmughi (Bhamane Satyabhamane / Chachi 420) or Tenali. In a rare occasion, he provided his take on the controversy in Singapore. Thinnai (a Tamil Webmag?) covered it.

Kamal feels that it’s not wrong to use stories from other language movies. Defending himself, he says that Forrest Gump could have been based on the lead character in Swathi Muthyam (Sippikkul Muthu). The movie starring Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning role released in 1994 and was based on a book that came out in 1986. Kamal’s movie was out in 1985 itself. There is a piece on Forrest Gump on a Web-site, said to be based on an Wikipedia article, which mentions the original Telugu movie. Similarly, Sigappu Rojakkal was said to have been plagiarised from Visiting Hours, whereas the Hollywood movie actually released 4 years later! In the end, Kamal calls for having belief in and appreciating the talent of fellow Indians.

Dasavatharam dubbing

Dasavatharam is in the post-production phase, specifically into dubbing. IndiaGlitz reports that one character speaks Telugu in the movie and for that, Kamal has approached Vennelakanti to dub for that role!

I checked with WB on Vennelakanti. Vennelakanti is a Telugu writer (also lyricist?), like Vaali. He usually helps Kamal with dubbing all his movies from Tamil to Telugu, and in rare occassions from Telugu to Tamil.

With interesting tidbits still coming up, we all hope that Dasavatharam will be revealed for Diwali.

What’s in a name?

Many are confused about Kamal’s name — the way it’s supposed to be written especially. I mentioned this in passing in the very first post on this blog, but realised that the name is tangled beyond redemption. Anyway, let me do my bit in clearing it up.

Till around the early eighties, his name was featured in movies as ‘Kamalahaasan’ (or ‘Kamalhasan’, if you will — Tamil: கமலஹாசன்). That is his original name. I’m not so sure about the unusual ‘Haasan’ suffix being attributed to his father’s fondness for an friend though. The name actually means something like the man who laughs whole-heartedly just as a lotus blooms wide, in Sanskrit.

When he ventured into Bollywood, In all probability, it got distorted as ‘Kamalahassan’ or ‘Kamal Hassan’. In fact, due to this, there are many who believe he’s a Muslim!

For whatever reason, he seemed to have felt the need for a surname, much like many South Indians have discovered in recent times. So, he split up his name into two — ‘Kamal Haasan’. His daughters use the surname; even his ex-wife Sarika used to.

So, that’s about it. No big mystery. Just something people didn’t pause to take note of and understand.

[Thanx to Wikipedia for filling in a few gaps.]

Kamal in the making

Fellow blogger Bharath recently dug up an old article by Sujatha on Kamal. Dating back to 1976, it was probably the time when Sujatha and Kamal got acquainted. Without more ado, let me (not too badly) translate some key portions of the article.

There was nothing really luxurious in his room, save the air-conditioner…I spotted books on American film history and sound in cinema…He is very casual when explaining the funny things on his job. He knows of European directors like Polanski and Goddard. I’m able to enthusiastically analyse a shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy with him for ten minutes. “Looks like Malayalam movies are not bad these days”, I said. “That was then. Now, Malayalam movies are going backwards”, he says. “Malayalam movie!”, he adds, pointing to his pink shirt.

“While picturising a song, it is convenient for the heroine to leave her hair loose. If she forgets the lip-sync, she can just hide behind her hair!”

In the loud-speaking and ‘loud-acting’ Tamil film world, I expect a new wave from the gentle, imaginative and believable Kamal Haasan.

Kamal was not even 22 at this time and was possibly on the verge of becoming a star. No more words from me. If you know Tamil, enjoy the whole piece.

Karan on Kamal

With his new movie out, Karan is doing the usual media rounds. Significantly, he has repeatedly mentioned Kamal, who co-starred in his first movie, Nammavar. In a video interview to Behindwoods, he calls Kamal his guru. He attributes his confidence and present status to Kamal.

In an interview to The New Indian Express, he talks in the same vein. Excerpts:

If there is any one person you feel indebted to, who would that be?

Undoubtedly Kamal Haasan! When I was struggling to get a foothold in films years ago, no one took me seriously. No one believed in me, encouraged me or offered me roles. It was only Kamal who called me and offered me a crucial role in Nammavar. I consider him my guru, my mentor. It was he who gave me the name Karan, saying, that name would take me a long way. And it has!

Dasavatharam: news & speculation

With Kamal gone into virtual hiding, it is getting tougher for news of Dasavatharam to emerge. That doesn’t prevent mainstream media (MSM) and even bloggers from publishing news and rumours.

After Rajni, recently Vijay has visited Kamal on the sets. Both Behindwoods and IndiaGlitz covered the news.

The new addition to the list of languages Dasavatharam would be dubbed into is French — can you believe that? Be amused nevertheless.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

Sujatha on Marudhanayagam

In a very old interview, Sujatha (the writer) speaks about Marudhanayagam in detail, among other things. It contains some interesting insights about the movie, including Sujatha’s contributions. Excerpts:

Q:Was it you who suggested the ‘Marudha Naayagam’ story to Kamal?
In a way ‘yes’. For the last 7 or 8 years Kamal had been searching for the right story to make a historical. He even had plans of doing a historical musical on the lines of ‘Ambikapathi’ and toyed with the idea of making a film which had only verses for dialogue. While he was examining so many ideas, I suggested why not we go into immediate past history instead of going to ancient period.
It was around that time I came across a folk ballad edited by Tamil scholar Vanamamalai and published by Madurai Kamaraj University. Impressed by the ballad, I showed it to Kamal to find out if it has the potential of a good film. Kamal was initially reluctant, but agreed to go through the ballad.
In the elaborate and excellent introduction was a footnote which said, “This Yousuf Khan was originally a Hindu Vellala called Marudha Naayagam. Kamal immediately jumped at it and felt that the story had all the potential of a good historical film. Kamal felt that the religious conversion could be owing to some social oppression and that would form a good subject for filming.

Q: The story of Marudha Naayagam is relatively unknown…
We chose the life of Marudha Naayagam for its substantial story element and episodic content. His is not a conventional story of a king. Starting his life as a supplier to the French Army, he sneaks through enemy lines with messages effortlessly. The French train him and the British, spotting his talent, elevate him to the position of a tax collector of Madurai district, only to hang him for disobedience to the British Raj just one year after his rise to the top. It is this stunning elevation from the lowest level and again touching the nadir, this graph of Marudha Naayagam’s life, that interested Kamal to make it into a film.
As for deviations, nearly 80% of the film will faithfully adapt Hills’ biography of Marudha Naayagam. Only on certain aspects, where no solid or substantial information is available, have we used our imagination.
For instance, no reason is available for Marudha Naayagam’s conversion to Islam. Here Kamal has worked back on the character and has imagined the reasons for his conversion beautifully.

Q: Don’t you foresee the danger of ‘Marudha Naayagam’ being compared to Sivaji Ganesan’s ‘Veerapandiya Kattabomman’ (a folk tale)?
Kamal can stand the comparison easily because he is not going to follow Sivaji Ganesan’s style. Knowing well about Kamal’s yen for perfection and precision, we can be sure that the level of realism in ‘Marudha Naayagam’ will be high. There is no question of any Indian actor playing a foreigner as Javer Sitaraman did in ‘Veerapandiya Kattabomman’ and spoke his lines in broken Tamil. In ‘Marudha Naayagam’ wherever the British or French officers speak, Kamal, I think, is planning to para dubbing to give it an authentic touch.
Q: Do you think ‘Marudha Naayagam,’ a film with a distinct native flavour, can have a national or an international audience?
Why not? ‘Marudha Naayagam’ may be a historical character, but he is not a larger than life character. It is a story which depicts a man with all his strengths and weaknesses. ‘The rise and fall of a man’ is the one line story of ‘Marudha Naayagam’, a plot that will interest anyone in any part of the world. When films like ‘Jurassic Park’ can run for its grandeur and technical brilliance, the same can be said of ‘Marudha Naayagam’ which will be made using state of the art techniques. Kamal is adopting the linear narrative style where through off screen narration a person tells the background of Marudha Naayagam, the historical context of the story and so on.

Q: Kamal is supposed to be following the Hollywood style in writing the screenplay of the film. Could you explain that?
I think for the first time in India, a computer has been used in screenplay writing, a method usually adopted by Hollywood film makers. Various software are available for this and Kamal is using a particular software called ‘Movie Magic’. All the information about the movie can be accessed with it..

Q: What is you actual input in ‘Marudha Naayagam’?
I created the Tamil fonts for ‘Movie Magic’. I am also overseeing the screenplay written by Kamal. In Hollywood films, you have a ’screenplay doctor’ and that is the role I’m playing.

Bits

With so much focus on Dasavatharam, some small bits of news get sidelined at times. Here are a couple of them:

  • After living in the Alwarpet area of Chennai for as long as one can remember, Kamal shifted to Neelangarai, in the outskirts of the city, a few years ago. Now, it is said that he’s looking to move away even further from the maddening crowd.
  • He met and appreciated Harikumar, the hero of Thoothukkudi and someone who has worked with Kamal in the past.

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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