Dasavatharam Movie Review— Nonsense-Avatharam

After almost three years in the making, court cases, controversies, and extraordinary hype, Dasavatharam finally hit the silver screen on June 13th, 2008. Touted as the biggest film ever made in Indian cinema with Dr. Kamal Haasan creating history by donning 10 different roles, the film is easily the biggest blockbuster release of 2008 or the recent past. Thus, the film too is subject to the expectations usually associated with such blockbusters and its success depends whether the expectations are met or not. So what avatar does Dasavatharam finally take on the silver screen? In my opinion it is the Nonsense-Avatar!

The narrator of the story is the scientist Govind (Kamal) from the podium of a stadium filled with thousands of spectators in the presence of Karunanidhi, Manmohan Singh, and George Bush. Govind says he will tell us a story that will make us reflect on religion, the divine, science, and our human race. For this he must travel back to the 12th century where the story begins. Rewind to the Chola dynasty where vaishnaviates are being persecuted by shaivaites. Rangarajan Nambi (Kamal) is the temple priest who is tied to vishnu’s idol and is thrown in to the sea. Next, we are brought in to modern day America in the lab of a biotechnology firm where Govind works. Govind and team are experimenting with bio-chemical warfare when an accident occurs that kills the experimental monkey in a brutal way. Seeing this, Govind’s conscious pricks him and he tells the company board to abandon this project in the interest of humanity. However, Govind suspects his boss of foul play and thinks he might be interested in selling this technology. Govind’s suspicion is proved right and he steals the capsule that contains the virus and escapes. From this point on begins the senseless and insane chase after chase till you get tired by the end of the film.

Govind is chased by a former CIA man, Chris Fletcher (Kamal) who is accompanied by Mallika and appointed by Govind’s boss to kill Govind and recover the capsule. In the process of escaping and keeping the capsule away from the bad guys, the capsule travels to India by a courier. It this journey that takes Govind and Fletcher to India and in due course of time all the remaining characters and avatars of Kamal are introduced. The entire film is for the capsule. Towards the end, the virus is released and humanity is saved because of the Tsunami (the virus can only be nullified with tons and tons of salt). Why each avatar is presented, how and why they relevant and irrelevant and they fit or don’t fit in to the story is beyond the scope of this review. What could have been an exiting adventure is spoilt due to Kamal Haasan’s indulgence and fetish of wanting to be the first actor to do 10 roles in a film.

Before getting in to the irrelevant aspects of the film, let’s talk about the positive aspect. The only redeeming feature of this film is the first 15 minutes set in the 12th century. Although this episode’s intensity is unconnected to the film, the rest of the film is so bad that you can’t help but console yourself that at least you saw a film where 15 minutes was well done. Also, K.S Ravikumar’s energetic and lively dance towards the end credits for Loka Nayakudu, comes a relief.

Now the negatives:

  1. First of all, there is no need for Kamal to do ten avatars. The story is too simple to justify or accommodate the ten avatars. Six out of the ten avatars are irrelevant and add no value to the story. The old lady (who looks repulsive), the pop singer, the tall muslim, the japaneese martial arts fighter, the young dalit activist, the president Bush are examples of Kamal’s indulgence in showing off (not showcasing) this acting talent. Most of the avatars, particularly that of Bush, come off as a comedy film.
  2. As a story writer, Kamal Haasan attempts to be the commercial M. Night Shyamalan. Kamal’s point in writing the story is make the audience reflect about the divine, the pre-destined versus coincidence (a la Shyamalan’s Signs). In other words, the story wants us to ask if whatever happens, happens for a reason and God knows what is good for us. Kamal’s attempt of bringing in 10 different characters and making their destinies criss-cross does not succeed in proving the philosophy of the story. How can it when we are shown that a bullet hitting Avatar Singh due a fight between the other avatars cures him of this cancer? Another example is—there is a reason why the Tsunami came, it is to save humanity from the virus that was released. The bottom line is—the story makes no sense.
  3. Even if the philosophy of the writer has come been communicated in the story, at least the adventure could have worked, but even that fails. Why? Because even chases need to have a reason. The main problem is there is no reason why on earth Chris Fletcher is chasing Govind like a mad hound gone wild. There is no reason presented as to whom Govind’s bosses want to sell the virus too. There is no valid logic in why the globe trotting chase is occurring.
  4. The much hyped make-up of the 10 avatars is bad. The old woman looks repulsive like a character straight out of The Mummy.
  5. Even the much hyped special effects of the Tsunami are poorly done. The Tsunami…cummon now, we’ve seen better stuff than that.
  6. The film has too much of English, Tamil, mixed Telugu, subtitles.

Nobody in India can contest Kamal Haasan’s acting abilities and he has already proved his versatility; then why this exercise? Six out of the ten avatars, or more, could have been played some other prominent stars and the film would still have been the same or even better. Kamal Haasan should simply have organized a fancy dress show with 10 or even 50 get-ups instead of wasting his producer’s money for his fancies, and test the patience of the audience.

When I first saw the trailer I suspected that the 12th century portion will be the best and the rest will be a mess. Parents should know that the film contains brutal killings and torture of characters. Parents might also want to discuss with their kids about bio-chemical warfare.

Mr. Inkenti’s Movienomics Verdict: Thumbs Down!

PS: For Your Information, I am listing the 10 avatars below:

1.The Brahmin: Rangarajan Nambi

2. The Scientist: Govind

3. The Former CIA officer: Keith Fletcher

4. The Old Lady: Krishnaveni Paati

5. The Fighter: Chinese Martial Arts Teacher

6. The Tall Muslim: Kalifullah Khan

7. The Telugu RAW Police Officer: Balram Naidu

8. The Dalit Activist: Vincent Poovarahan

9. The Pop Singer: Awatar Singh

10. The American President: George William Bush



  1. baleshlakshminarayanan said

    Well written and true review. I too felt sick after seeing the movie.

  2. toneatbest said

    Excellent writing!!! You have written my thoughts in words. The movie was simply a mix of confusion and characters.

  3. kiran said

    i felt sick out of this movie…felt as if i was watching a 10th standard fancy dress competition..too poor a performance from kamal.the plot of the story is so poor ..th efirst scene(rangarajan nambi)has got no relation to the remaining characters.i wonder how such a wonderful movie personality should do such a brutal deed to the mpvie industry…

  4. unni said

    Dasavatharam is not as bad as you make out it to be. It’s not an out and out entertainment movie.If somebody wishes to understand the theme of the movie, he can do that..or he can write reviews like this…

    1. How many actors in India (or say in world cinema ) can pull this off. And see how beautifully he has done this. You hear 10 characters speaking in Kamal Hasan’s voice.All of them are so different and matching in every sense. Look at the eyes of characters, you see different persons, cold blooded, passionate, lunatic, funny, devoted, confused…Make up is not everything. (Not to say that make up is amazing..).

    2.Understand the ending in any way you want to. You can decide what is the meaning of the ending. You can say Tsunami came to save mankind from a bigger disaster (that is Indian philosophy- everything happens for a reason). Or you can say look at everything with a positive point of view. Or say It was a coincidence and got lucky. There will be other theories too. It is easier than thinking about a larger philosophy.

    3. We all know that Next world war will be fought with biological warfare. And this one is a biological weapon. Terrorists and terrorist countries are ready to pay billions of dollors for it. That is the reason Fletcher is behind Govind. AND THIS WILL BE SOLD ANYBODY WHO IS WILLING TO PAY AND OFCOURSE IT WILL BE USED ONLY FOR DESTRUCTION…

    4 Make up is very good. Unfortunately really old people are repulsive to some people even in real life.

    5 Special effects are one of the best in Indian movies I have ever seen. Please mention if you know some movies (Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, kannada, Malayalam..)

    6 You don’t get English men speaking in bizzarely accented Tamil.. That’s a good thing.. In any case it is not difficult tounderstand the movie.By the way there is japanese too in the movie

    I am not a Kamal Fan and I am not saying that Dasavataram is the greatest movie ever. But it is unfair to dumb down a reasonably well made movie with some decent acting.

    Some people just don’t want to appreciate the hard work and passion gone into a project like this.

  5. Sailesh said

    I’ve read the article of ur’s Mr. Inkenti. Just blabering like u is very simple. Wat speaks the most is the PERFORMANCE. ACTION is better than WORDS. U r not even eligible to shake hands with Dr.Kamal Hassan. 10 avatars in the movie according to u is useless. Though some avatars come for a short time, it comes along with the story and its an impressive screenplay. I think u’ve not seen how a 95 yr old lady will be. And as u said tat there’s lot of english and telugu, how can u expect a foreigner lik Fletcher come and speak tamil or how a balaram naidu come and speak fluent tamil when his basic mother lang is telugu according to his character. Dr.Kamal Hassan ROCKS!!!!!! Fletcher’s performance rocks. VFX rocks in the movie. Me myself being a 3D animator and VFX artist i know how difficult it is to create such effects. Better stop blogging if u r not able to understand the efforts.

  6. rafi said

    Has anyone in India ever tried this off?? Indians are enemies of themselves. One should know to appreciate when somebody makes a new attempt better commenting it.

    Kamal Hassan is the Leader who lifts the Tamil Film Industry and Indian Film industry to international films standards. He is the only person who earns money in cinema and invests in the same.

    Do you know how much time does it takes to makeup for a single character??? Do you know the history of his trials in the Film Industry..All we people do is sit and comment and write some craps like your above review.

    Have you watched his previous magnum opuses Hey Raam? Virumandi? Anbe Sivam? Kurthipunal? Guna? Mahanadhi? More..more – All films faced a huge loss although they were master pieces. Why cant you review on those films?

    Guys Dasavathram is a Great Entertainment Film and can fulfill all your expectations. People who doesn’t know much about Kamal Hassan can never recognize the 10 Rolls of Kamalji.

    Hello Inkenti,

    Better review useless movies like Kuruvi, Thirupathi and that kind of purposeless movies. Even their stills released never match their movies.

    Hats Off to Kamalji’s great attempt!

  7. janakiraman said

    this is a review from imdb but it clearly tells my mind.

    Hi all movie lovers,

    Got the chance to watch the movie last weekend. Is splendid or marvellous a word enough to explain this master peiece from kamal??? I feel sad for those who failed to understand the script of the movie. Man… u guys are just missing the best movie in years if you have still not seen it. For starters those who are wondering about the film and its plot….It is based on Chaos Theory or Butterfly Effect…according to which a small change increments to a larger effect later. Use this to understand the film and you will be able to relate every character in the film to one other…how each character influences the story and causes a impact. It all starts from the first story death of a vaishnavite where he is sent to bottom of the ocean with the vishnu statue , to the end where you see the statue again. Most of them if they had used some sense in their brain …they would have clearly found this out in the last scene of the film where they show the vishnu statue again. Hats off to kamal and his crew for giving this master piece. Another film now adds to my list of “best of kamal”.

    read again YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND A BIT OF CHAOS THEORY BEFORE YOU DO A REVIEW OF THE FILM. i guess u missed the talk of kamal. I really pity kamal because he fails time and again when he tries to lift the face of indian cinema. After all we are only fit to whistle at masala cinemas

  8. bravoBOY said

    FAQs on Dasavatharam

    Some guys have claimed they haven’t understood chaos theory which plays such an important part in the film. As a physics student, I’ve decided to explain it a bit so that people can appreciate the brilliance of the film.

    What is Chaos theory ?
    Basically a chaotic system is one wherein long term predictions are impossible. Like for example, if I push a car, I know that it is going to move and it will continue to do so if I go on pushing it on and on. However, in a chaotic system, this situation cannot be predicted over a long period of time. Weather, for example, is a chaotic system. No matter how good your instruments are, you simply cannot predict the weather with 100 per cent accuracy over a long term basis and forecast it.

    What is the Butterfly Effect?
    It is the most important component of a chaotic system. Basically, small perturbations results in amplifications which completely destroys the original nature of the system and makes prediction impossible. If a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, it could result in
    a cyclone in USA.(Mark the word COULD.) A highly dumbed down explanation of the butterfly effect is in the film Anniyan, where Vikram’s sister dies because a liquor shop owner sells liquor on a dry day.

    OK, how does Dasavatharam incorporate it?

    In essence, Dasavatharam talks about eight characters who are inconsequential as such, but are integrated in a larger picture. Without Bush, the plane would have been called back. Without Shinghen, Govind would be dead. Without the tsunami, the world would have been destroyed. Even Krishnaveni (the old woman) plays a very important role. If she had not put the vial in the idol, maybe Govind would have recovered it then and there and a powerful weapon would have been unleashed. The very fact that it went into the idol meant that it was being accelerated to its destiny. Without Kaifulllah Khan, Govind would have never escaped… the list simply goes on.

    OK, so does the film talk about theism or atheism?
    Neither. It talks about how humans drive the destiny of the world.

    The idol that is drowned in the sea along with Rangarajan in 12th century by Chozha king results in a fault being developed at the bottom of the ocean and creates tremors more than 800 years later. These tremors result in the Tsunami. This again is a classic case of Butterfly Effect wherein a seemingly inconsequential event (the drowning of the idol) saves Tamil Nadu from being wiped off the face of the earth.

    Now tell me, does THIS movie lack a story? This movie has the most beautiful story ever attempted in Indian cinema. Unfortunately, Indian viewers and critics are obsessed with the “boy meets girl” and “revenge” themes, so they fail to see the story in this master piece.

    – Chaos Theory

  9. Partha said

    Excellent comment by bravoBOY. This review seems to unbashedly against the film. I am not saying this is the best film, but certainly far better than what the reviews make out to be.
    Chaos theory and Butterfly effect need to be well understood- otherwise this is the review you get.
    As for the CG, Terminator took 30millon $ to do CG. This film costs ~5M $ and this what you can get with this money. CG aint great, but certianly good enough to be watched.
    I felt .only Muslim’s character make-up was tacky – could have toned it down.

  10. bravoBOY said

    well most of them just telling to read the Chaos theory but not explaining how it relates in the story… took an attempt on it and able to give an explaination. thks to EXTRA MIRCHI guyssss !!!!!

  11. Mohan said

    Its possible to find and explain chaos theory and butterfly effect in any film. actually the reason is not just 10 people, if you look into it deeper, you can say colin powell was not near Bush when he took the decision to let manmohan singh handle it and so he is one reason. Or ColinPowell’s maid was sick and so he could not go meet with bush and hence his maid is also a reason.
    The bad thing about this film is kamal playing all the 10 roles and it did not look professional.

  12. Shankar said

    Hey, this movie is one of the best Tamil movies ever. Guys who find the simple plot confusing better stick with “boy meets girl and runs away with girl’s evil dad in hot pursuit” or “thalaivaru bashing 100s of thugs within a minute”.

  13. […] entry has run into thousands now! Lets not forget the interesting comments i’ve received on my review of Dasa and this box-office report. Synthesizing news and information from various sources, these are my […]

  14. Siva said

    Most of the story and the brilliant chain of events and links is wasted on the numb-minded audience like you who couldnt even connect the first 15 minutes to the movie!!!

  15. Ajesh Ashok said

    Yeah guys… I felt in both ways… the film was 50% perfect n thats because of Kamal’s performance and the make-ups… And the other 50%, I felt that the flow of the scenes was lacking.. As a viscom student I thought that the visual effects were not that good except the 12th century’s.. And also it was like “the film had been named DASAVATHARAM” and so 10 roles HAD TO BE DONE… Some roles like the Avtar singh’s was not complete.. Don’t mistake me guys.. That was just a person’s view… Nothing intentional.. 🙂

  16. dasavatharam luva said

    i swear dam r u mad
    don’t u know english
    or wot
    is truly gr8
    atpleast he made an effort
    i dont c u tryin
    imagine if dis happened bout ur film
    he’z broken da world record
    b proud of dat
    i recommend to everyone
    dont read dis review I
    swear da fims
    da best in da world
    itz great
    all u noe is 2 criticize

  17. dasavatharam luva said

    juz coz u cant understand it
    were all not as dum as u
    i totally am with
    ppl whom like da film
    da reviewer
    jus cant take a good plot
    itz a trully gr8 plt

  18. Mothz said

    Hi…..It is good to hear your critic but you should appreciate the efforts that have been done for the movie. Its a creative story and why don’t you just raise your thumb for that. Come on man…..if Kamal has more capital to spend, he would have invested his imaginations with more better effects. I agree with you that the graphics were not perfect but the logic is delivered well.
    I agree that lot’s of English movies have shown better graphics. They are “The day after tomorrow”,”Independents Day”,”Perfect Storm” but can i just get you with some statistics?
    Larger population of people view English movie. To tell it right, almost everyone all over the world watch English movie.Only a handful of them would not watch. If i am a producer for an English movie, i don’t mind investing more.Come on man…. it is an Indian movie and the viwership is not as large as compared to English movie. Than how could you aspect someone to invest so much of money to have a better graphics.Think about it !!! Please appreciate it and after all it is meant for entertainment.

  19. jai said

    the film is total crap; i couldn’t agree more with the reviewer. yes, the film is earning money, but that is only because it is still the first couple of weeks and nothing else around. this is definitely not the 100 days film.

  20. Prakash said

    Hey guys,

    I read all of your comments on Dasavatharam movie. As a Biotechnology scientist i guess i can give little comments on it.

    When you talking about the movie kamalhasan or some one, the movie should be understood by every one, its just a entertainment, if this not matching then the movie should give some message. when i was watching the movie first time i thought i did not understood, then i watched again and again. I finally concluded that there is no good story in the movie. its simple scarp from Hollywood.

    I did not understand why he want to convey the 12th century to this moive. there is no proper relationships.

    when you come to 10 different role, i was expecting to see 10 different role in the movie, but i could not. because there is nothing to talk about it every one knows about it. this 10 different role can be played any body who does not know acting. i don’t understand what he want to show to the people.

    When you come to effects and screen ply, i don’t thing its worth enough comparing to money he spent in his film, the next one is song…not much to talk.

    Asian character in the film was irritating me like any thing, the part is main negative point for this movie.

    at least next time concentrate more about what you do, i did not expect this kind of film from you. Since you are good actor, you made stupid story and acting in this film. you know very well in the commercial movie industry is depends on the people how they understand the movie story and how they got entertained.

    Movie is good experiment but got failed to prove it, any way all the best for next film Mr. Kaml.


  21. Dauntlessboy said

    Hi Prakash,

    It is very nice and good part of you to accept that you couldn’t understand the movie despite repeated viewing. I think even after several viewings and years you won’t. Bcaz, you stopped growing ( hope u understand as you are biotech man). Better you restrict yourself to watch movies like Om shanti Om, Sivaji etc. Don’t ever think of movies such as Dasavatharam & Tare Zameen Par.

  22. shantha kumar said

    Please try sit and watch atleast 10 kamal movies and then try your unwanted criticz. always a Phd is tough when compared to UG. If you dont want to do Phd dont ever try and see no one is going to cry if you dont watch our Thalaivar movie.

    Try watch as usual all idiotic like sivaji, Pada, kuselan, etc…

    sorry friend

  23. Sumesh said


    I totally agree with mrinkenti. For more logic and realization, read http://hueristics.blogspot.com/2008/06/dumil-avatharam.html.

    Kamal fanatics cannot justify the movie because they idolize him. Some one in their comments posted what mrinketi has tried to do. Kamal is Kamal today because of commoners like us. If everyone tries to be Kamal, there will be no commoner left.

  24. i like the movie very much….especially the effort took by the kamal hassan for this un beleivable..

  25. the movie is very confusing…

  26. movie man said

    hi guys,
    read all your blogs.as a hollywood movie lover and a tamilian i want to say you that this is a movie for people who understand the plot and you should have the ability to see how different people are linked in a way in this movie.all of them has a role to play and 10 characters were acted by kamal because he wanted to take us a little bit near to hollywood movies.

    Kamal’s fault is that he always tries to do something different which may look different for people who cant understand his efforts.he never cares about it.

    i enjoyed the movie very much being and indian i was proud of the movie which was nearly equal to a hollywood film.only that i feel for the people of india who cant understand a near hollywood thriller to be made in india.we people especially tamilans are good fan of masala movies as one said above,true what do we do we become a slave for a movie like those rajini does there is a villian and hero both fight and hero dances with heroine and at last hero saves people from villian story is good and we like it very much.yeah bcoz we all can understand such movies very easily our brain does a little job and so we seem difficult to understand these movies which are historic.

    i am a fan of kamalahassan as he does different things which not even our great super star rajini dares to do.they think to make money and doesnot want to damage their mas hero appeal.
    some one said he copies nightshamalan,he doesnot copy but he is a nightshamalan of indian movies as he does things differently.the only thing about kamal is his films and jokes are easily understandible for learned ones and aristocrats the common men who watch only tamil movies doesnot understand……………………………………….
    sorry if this hurts some one this is my first time commenting on a blog.

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