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Friday, June 6, 2008

Kamal wills, Kamal does

It;s definitely not a crusade against religion. I don’t thrust my ideologies on the roles I play. Neither am I judgmental,” says Kamal Haasan. Saketharaman (Hey! Ram) Velu Naicker (Nayakan) and Shaktivel Thevar (Thevar Magan) each from a different school of thought exemplify Kamal’s contention. “Similarly, the core of Dasavathaaram is also different. God plays a strong role in D. And I’ve used religion as a showman should.”

So what’s the core? “The requirement of religion, you can say. But this has nothing to do with the God aspect,” he assures. “As a tool for cultural development it has been excellent. But now the weapon is turning blunt, and it is superstitions that rule the roost. As far as Dasavathaaram goes, God will appear in all His glory… and faults! Both sides of the argument will run subcutaneously in the story without impeding the entertainment value in any way,” he smiles enigmatically. So that’s why there’s a scientist in D. “He’s our rationalist,” smiles Kamal.

Kindling curiosity

The sheer magnitude of the project and the surmises, arguments and counters that have been part of the film from the time of its launch two years ago, have naturally kindled viewers’ curiosity. “The media has been very kind in helping us keep it under wraps. And the goodwill from my peers has been incredible. Even a person like Jayaprada didn’t ask me what her role involved. Then we have Asin who has shot for nearly 100 days, and Mallika Sherawat.”

A rigorous schedule of 18 hours a day running to 600 days of shoot, and 500 hours spent on the hero’s make-up alone! Kamal simply shrugs it off. “When you do what you believe in, you don’t get tired. I have no holidays because I don’t have any working days, is the axiom I go by.”

How did it all begin? “At this very place where we are sitting now,” he taps on the table. It began as a casual coffee-shop-chat between Kamal and his friends. “We discussed various levels of filmgoers’ expectation and market demands. What if we packaged humour, action and romance in a format never attempted before, we thought,” he says. It was a kind of SWOT analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, objectives and threats which eventually led Kamal to the story with 10 main characters.

“Michael Westmore, our make-up wizard from the U.S., says that so many diverse roles in a single film have never been attempted by any actor in the world. But we didn’t begin it with records in mind.”

Kamal is also the writer of Dasavathaaram. “I’m a reluctant actor,” he confesses. Writing has been a passion from his early days.

Much before the country experienced tsunami, Kamal’s Anbe Sivam spoke about it. “I fervently hope the synthetic bio-weapons I talk about in Dasavathaaram don’t become a reality,” he sighs. Around 10 different firms have handled the CG of the film. “The number is in tune with the title,” he quips.

Producer Ravichandran and director K.S.Ravikumar complete the diligent triangle that slogged throughout. “Of course, there’s the cameraman [Ravivarman] but even he goes out of the project for a while and returns. The three of us placed our individual likes and dislikes on the shore and went in to bathe in an egoless sea. It was a smooth swim. The ruptures were minimal,” he guffaws.

“I haven’t tried to be a maverick as far as the entertainment quotient goes, because frankly I’m bothered only about the film being accepted by my people. As for awards I don’t care. If it happens I’ll be honoured, but definitely surprised!” he candidly states.

Strangely number 10 keeps cropping up often during the conversation. “Ten years from now I must watch the film with my daughters and still feel happy about it. Not apologetically say, ‘in those days we could do only this much.’ I refuse to be a captive of Time. Transcending it is more like me.”

“It’s a Lucullan feast we are providing. Taste the truffles for the sheer enjoyment they offer or scratch the surface and find the message beneath. The layers are many, because every stratum of my audience is important to me and Dasavathaaram aims at satisfying each of them,” smiles Kamal

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