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Oy! July 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The first frame of Oy! opens with the director stating his admiration for and admitting his inspiration from Erich Segal’s “Love Story“. In a further (rather too honest) admission, the second frame features a bigger list of about 10 movies or so which inspired him. That second frame is visible on the screen for less than a second – maybe we were really not meant to see it. I think it’s because after watching Oy! some of the audience members would try to figure out where exactly those “inspirations” were and hardly find any.

In essence, Oy! is supposedly a “terminal illness” flick which tries hard at every moment not to appear like one. Probably a good idea if you don’t want to alienate viewers who “cannot accept a heroine dying in the end”. Debutante Anand Ranga seriously needs to get a few basic concepts right. First of all trying to make a tragic story into happy one doesn’t translate to inserting insipid “comedy” tracks whose only connection to the movie is that the actors in them share a scene or two with lead pair. More disturbing is his conception of an “ideal woman” in Shamili’s character – whose simplicity is linked with ease to her dumb religiosity and superstitions.

Shamili is a undoubtedly a fine actress and one has to give her credit for pulling off such a badly written role. Siddharth is a livewire as usual in yet again a role tailor-made for him. Unfortunately, he seems to have been caught like many others in the alternate movie jinx – on the brighter side we can hope that his next much talked about big-budget venture might be a good one. Apart from the lead pair, Yuvan Shankar Raja’s score is the only good thing about this movie. The best numbers show up when the movie still hasn’t begun its downhill ride. My pick is the title track (extremely well rendered by Siddharth) which is still playing in my head.

Oy! doesn’t make you cry when it tries to be tragic nor does it make you laugh when it tries to be funny. I feel some of the reviews of this film have been too generous; however given the involvement of Siddharth with this venture – the outcome is indeed disappointing. Worth only a watch in fast-forward mode when the DVD comes out.

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Dasavathaaram June 15, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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The loonnnng wait is finally over and the reviews are out. Some have called it magnificent while others have called it disappointing. It’s actually both – magnificent being the effort and disappointing (relative to the hype and hoopla) being the outcome. And yes, Kamal Haasan is responsible for both. Dasavathaaram could have been a brilliant chase thriller set in the backdrop of the age old philosophical debate about the existence of God. However, along the way Kamal’s high ambitions come in the way of his self-indulgence and the the latter dominates most of the movie (add to that some extended uninteresting bickering scenes between Asin and Kamal) after the highly interesting first half.

Firstly, when you expect to see him don ten different roles you also rightfully expect each of them to be memorable. But half of the avatars (or maybe more) are totally redundant to the movie – a couple of them border on ridiculous…in the last category especially being the Sardar pop singer and the unusually tall Pathan – which in large part can also be attributed to the awful dubbing by S.P Balasubramanyam in the Telugu version. Also, his English lines for the scientist avatar (the main hero) are equally bad. In the beginning of the movie, I had to scratch my head for a while to figure out that “Khayaas theory” was actually “Chaos theory” when he explains the butterfly effect. I am sure Tamil viewers wouldn’t have to complain about this aspect of the movie because when you see how brilliantly Kamal dubs for “George W. Bush” and “Chris Fletcher” you cannot but assume that he’s done a similar job for the rest of the characters too.

Incidentally, Dubya and Fletcher are two of the most memorable characters in the film. I never expected that Kamal would actually incorporate Bushisms too….Nice job at that! The ex-CIA assassin Fletcher avatar has been wonderfully conceived and special care has also been given not just to his appearance but also his lines. However, these two characters make an impact only if you understand the language and the context (in the case of Bush). What everyone ultimately will remember from this movie is the bumbling Tamil cop Balaram Nader…in the Tamil version it’s supposed to be a Telugu cop called Naidu. After a couple of scenes simply his appearance on the screen makes you crack up. Kamal has played memorable oddball comic characters in the past and now he can prouldy add this one to his list. I strongly felt there should have been more screen-time devoted to this character. The rest of the avatars don’t strike a chord at all.

Apart from this one-man show, the VFX team needs to be given a standing ovation. Now don’t come to the conclusion that this film is devoid of the tacky SFX so prevalent in South Indian films. The thing is they get it right most of the time and when they don’t; the tackiness still gels with the tone of the film without descending into ridiculousness. The thing which they’ve achieved to perfection (and which you might not take notice of) is the seamless amalgamation of the scenes featuring multiple Kamal Haasans. There are lots of them in the movie and mind you…these are not scenes where one character is simply talking to the other with his back facing the audience or just two characters coming face to face with each other in the left and right frames. Only on watching this can one realize why this one took so long in the making – even a simple scene can become extremely complex because of the presence of multiple avatars. Also, the camerawork (Ravi Varman) is splendid…especially use of zoom-in and zoom-out shots. Himesh Reshammiya can get away with his forgettable tunes only because songs aren’t an integral part of this film. Devisri’s background score is really good – notwithstanding the fact that the main theme is lifted from the first theatrical teaser of Spider-Man 3.

Dasavathaaram fails to be the masterpiece it was intended to be be only because the not-so-interesting avatars eat into the interesting premise in the second half of the movie, but I strongly feel this one be given a fair chance purely for the efforts of Kamal Haasan and director K.S. Ravikumar.