|Kamal Hassan (in 10 roles), Asin, Mallika Sherawat, M.S.Bhaskar, Napolean|
|Aaskar V. Ravichandran|
So what went wrong? It had absolutely no story to speak of, and the twists and turns were predictable. In the end, it turned out to be a routine film rendered more aggravating by its incessant near-miss plot structure. You desperately want to like the film for its maddeningly zany characters played out by Kamal Hassan. Alas! There's only so much life an actor can pump into a moribund script. It once again proves the old theory that, without a proper story and script, no film, however big the actors are, can succeed.
The film opens in the 12th century where Rangaraja Nambi (Kamal Hassan), a staunch Vaishnavite, opposes the removal of Lord Vishnu's idol by King Kulothunga Chozhan (Napoleon), who is a strong believer of Shiva. Nambi is punished and thrown into the deep sea tied to the idol. His wife Kothai (Asin) also kills herself. Then the story cuts to the US where Dr Govind (Kamal) discovers a deadly virus, which catches the attention of the government including President George Bush (Kamal). But his boss tries to sell the vial to the enemies and now it’s the turn of our hero to protect it from causing damage.
Dr Govind is pursued by a former CIA agent-turned-mercenary Keith Fletcher (Kamal) and his Tamil interpreter (Mallika Sherawat), who land up in Tamil Nadu. An array of other characters are drawn into the chase—Balram Naidu (Kamal), the Telugu speaking RAW chief, a Chinese martial arts teacher (Kamal) thirsting to take revenge on Fletcher, Vincent Poovarahan (Kamal) a Dalit activist , Krishnaveni Patti (Kamal), Khalifullah Khan (Kamal) and a Punjabi pop singer Avatar Singh(Kamal). Andal, a Brahmin girl, is also unwittingly drawn into a long chase. What follows is a cat and mouse game till the Tsunami climax.
It's actually hard to believe that in this age of experimentation within the commercial format, the director could think of such a moth-balled story. The earlier Kamal films in which he played dual or multiple roles, like Avvai Shanmukhi, Michael Madan Kamaraj and Indian, were far superior in style and content compared to his latest 10 avatars.
The trouble with the format is that far too many characters of the actor criss-cross without any reason—or they don’t make any difference to the story. It is obvious that characters like the Punjabi pop singer Avatar Singh, the tall Khalifullah Khan, the Japanese martial arts expert , etc., are unnecessarily stitched together to make it a perfect 10. The real crisis point in the film is nebulous. The film also coasts along at a doleful pace—185 minutes. Kamal’s prosthetic makeup, especially as George Bush, Fletcher and Khan, is a bit of a dampener. But Brian Jennings’ special effects, mainly of the climax Tsunami scene, are top class by Indian standards.
Himesh Reshammiya’s music is nothing much to talk about other than Kallai Mattum. But Devi Sri Prasad’s background score is superb and makes up for everything. Cinematographer Ravi Varman may take a bow, as his camerawork is glossy and superb. The big plus for watching the movie is the one-man acting school, Kamal Hassan. He pitches in yet another fantastic performance. Among the 10 avataars, the pick of the lot is Naidu the bumbling cop, as the actor is able to bring out his impeccable sense of comic timing. Asin looks cute as the chirpy Andal, but beyond a point her character irritates you with her frequent Perumale.. calls.Her dubbing is top class and deserves special mention. Mallika, in a brief role sizzles. M.S.Bhaskar and napolean in small roles shines.
Yes, the film is hugely flawed, but it is still worth a look for its overall packaging and richness in production value.