Picture source: http://www.banx.com.au/wip/images/
I watched Dasavatharam yesterday and decided to write my own little review for the movie. I am not going to reveal anything about the plot just in case any of you haven't seen it but I am going to put forth my views on what I think the movie was about. I am also not going to talk about the technical aspects like digital effects and special effects for those are not aspects of the movie that I was most interested in . What stands out is the brilliance of this movie to singularly focus and try to portray through various random sequences of events the complexity of life and the universe itself. As it is explained clearly in the beginning of the movie, this movie is about "chaos theory" or the butterfly effect. Lord Vishnu or the "preserver" according to the Hindu mythology takes an avatar or a form of life whenever the world is in chaos. Chaos here is the key word both for the movie as well as the avatars of lord Vishnu. The avatars of Vishnu if you remember were meant to restore order but looking at it in retrospect, Vishnu always created chaos and the chaos always culminated in some random order which was decided by the "karma" of people of those times. You might wonder why I am rambling on and on about Vishnu's avatars, the crux of Dasavatharam is buried in understanding the avatars of lord Vishnu. The movie also tries to fight disorderliness but what remains is only chaos culminating in a massive 'tsunami' of events. Writing the screenplay for such a difficult concept must be a very hard job ( I am no expert, please correct me if I am wrong).
I went to watch the movie after having read dozens of reviews that loved the movie and reviews that simply hated it. The movie is super good or super bad as it has been portrayed in the reviews, but it is certainly a trend setter, a unique movie in the annals of Indian cinema which stands out for its simplicity of presentation of such complex philosophical problems. Is there God? Is the world a result of an intelligent design? Are events result of random occurrences or can they be predestined? These are some of the questions that this wonderful movie tries to address. The movie does not try to prove or disprove the existence or the non-existence of God. It just tries to show that life is an unpredictable random event and that all events including evolution of man are not intelligent design but a product of events that were selected out of chaos. Throughout the movie one can see people revolting and trying to cause paradigm shifts in the society for various reasons like religious belief, caste, global warming, biological warfare, illegal removal of top soil etc. The simplicity and subtlety with which such problems are dealt with this in the movie are new and a breath of fresh air. I was surprised to see a few reviews that tried to simplify the movie into two parts. Yes the plot is simple but the philosophy underlying it is very deep. It was a very emotionally and mentally gratifying feeling watching this wonderful movie unfold. I was left wondering if I had missed some nuances during the non-stop first half. The second half of the movie is a bit long because it nose-dives into the central theme of the movie without warning by the introduction of a dalit character. These are minor flaws compared to the herculean effort that the makers of the movie have accomplished by intertwining events and the 10 avatars together. Some of the reviews for this movie asked why 10 avatars? 10 because it is the Unique Selling Point of the movie. One cannot package such complex philosophical and spiritual material without such a USP. The 10 roles also have their own significance. Each one very carefully studied and executed. Finally I would like to finish this rather longish review by saying that Dasavatharam is something to be experienced, analyzed and marvelled at for there are very few movies that are even worth watching these days.