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10, 21 and a Whole Load of Bull

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008


Guess I’ve been a bit tardy on my reviews, but then there has hardly been any good movie in the theatres, courtesy of “The Dark Knight” backlash. So, I decided to catch up on some of the old movies still running in the theatres. “Dasavatharam” has been on an unrelenting run since its release a few weeks back and “21” was given a surprisingly long run at Sathyam. Both the movies were a good ROI, but then I made the mistake of seeing “Mission Istanbul”.

Kamalhaasan is not a newbie to multiple roles. He’s got a few double roles in his resume, even a quadruple role as well. I guess he wanted to go for the kill in Dasavatharam playing ten roles. The prologue for the movie was excellent. Kamalhaasan portrays a Vaishnavite priest who has been forced to give up his God by his Shaivite king. He refuses and is drowned with his idol in the Bay of Bengal. Kamalhaasan makes a powerful performance in this sequence and shows his skills as an actor. Then, the plot switches to present day and from there it becomes a normal adventure / comedy film. Kamalhaasan portrays nine other roles; one as himself and the others with make up. I was a bit disappointed there. I was expecting Kamalhaasan to play ten non-concurrent roles in the movie, playing out in a sort of “Magnolia” way. The protagonist of the movie is an Indian born bio-scientist in US, who has developed a biological weapon that can wipe out humanity. A CIA rogue agent intends to procure it, but Kamalhaasan gets in the way. After some chase and fight sequences, Kamlahaasan and the weapon ends up in India, Chennai, to be more precise. There he meets a RAW agent, but before he could talk to him the CIA rogue comes in the way. Off they go to get the bio agent followed by RAW and the FBI. Asin gets “drafted” into the search as well.

On the whole, it provides fine entertainment, but the movie is a tad too long (3:30 hours, if I recall correctly). Kamalhaasan shows his verstality, but unfortunately the make up crew doesn’t. Only two of the Kamalhaasans look believable: the RAW agent and a Bhangra singer brought up in Chennai. The makeup for the other characters is weak and an eyesore. Kamalhaasan portrays the CIA rogue, George W Bush, Asin’s grandmother, a social activist, a marital arts master and an extremely tall Northie. The RAW guy provides the comic relief. Kamalhaasan’s portrayal of this character is excellent. Asin also provides humour to the movie and makes a good performance. Another thing that I found irritating (outside the make-up) was the bio weapon, which oddly enough can be neutralized by common salt. It did not seem proper to create a weapon that can be killed so easily. But then we did have “War of the Worlds” brought down by common cold (was it?) and the aliens in “Evolution” by dandruff shampoo, I guess it is not silliest weapon on the reel.

“21” talks about a group of MIT students who count cards to win huge in Blackjack. I still don’t know blackjack, but the movie, based on a true story, provides for time well spent. Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne provide good cameos. One thing I found odd was that an engineer was looking to take medicine as his future career. Maybe it’s because I am brought up in a society were both considered mutually exclusive.

I went for the “Mission Istanbul” to have a taste of a Bollywood action film and I was sorely disappointed. The story was extremely weak. Seeing a couple reach a divorce over an internship (not an intern) was pitiable. Then they went on to add an advertisement in between the movie. Product placement is one thing, but having an ad written into the script is just pathetic. There was an Angelina Jolie wannabe, who looked the part, but did not act it. The movie also had another unwanted diversion with an item song by Abhishek Bachchan. It juts out of the script and the audience is left wondering what the whole point was. At least it brought Abhishek and Viveik in the same movie. Not sure what Shriya was doing in the movie. She had more meaningful on-screen performance in the Saravana Stores ad that was shown in the intermission. It also had a George W Bush in the movie, and his make up was better then Kamalhaasan’s George W Bush.

Well, now I’ve seen a Nayantara movie, a Genelia one, an Asin one and a Shriya one. That completes The List. I haven’t got a fifth name for it yet.

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