One of Kamal Haasan’s big hits, Dasavatharam, turned 13 today. For Kamal, Dasavatharam was a dream project as he had to play not two or three roles, but 10 roles, in addition to scripting the film! And the ambitious script, which begins during the Chozha period and ends during the December 2004 tsunami, was definitely a challenge to crack.
The Ulaganayagan has now shared many interesting details about this mammoth project through the handle of his production house, Raaj Kamal Films International. In a series of posts on Instagaram, Kamal has shared in detail about the making of the film. Here is what the award-winning actor-director has to say about the film (in his own words)
Dasavatharam – The Thought and Process
Dasavatharam was a script which was declined by many directors who said they didn’t understand it , and quite unexpectedly Mr Ravikumar jumped at it. He immediately claimed it a winner on cards and was was surprised that it was turned down and asked to make the film while on a telephonic conversation with me at Eldams road. That’s how the movie came into being!
Most of the time I work alone and like to take the opinion of seniors and well wishers while on a project. For Dasavatharam it wasn’t any different and thus I wanted to take Mr Mukta Srinivasan’s opinion as he has string instincts and is a brilliant short story writer.
In Nayakan, thanks to Mr Mukta, the Heroine’s character was beautifully written as a young girl who prepares her exams while being an inmate in a brothel. He heard the Dasavatharam script and he said “kamal you must watch over the film closely as its your idea and goes further and says foster it like your child.They will kill the child otherwise if you only decide to walk in and out of shoot”. I took his advise and spent all my time on it.
Once I finished the logline with Mr Mukta Srinivasan, the director was still skeptical about the way the script was written. We had Mr Sujata, Mr Madhan, Mr Ramesh Arvind, Mr Crazy Mohan all sit with us for a narration and I answered all the questions they kept asking . It was a very important exercise as they are all are experts and have the expertise to analyze the script. My biggest support was from Mr sujatha who said ” you got it bang on man”. The rest were new to the ideation ,scale and budget .
Any producer would have found it ridiculous that the director and I went to the US for 21 days to do make up tests for all the looks, but we did it . Mr Michael Westmore bent over backwards and did a stupendous job during the trial . Everyday for 21 days was hard work and one time Mr Michael also pushed himself in helping me with wiring me for a photo shoot held me too as I wanted to try a kick a certain way. Sometimes I did two different looks /make ups as we were building the makeup in layers and it was done in a lab. During the process Mr Ravikumar realized the full scope of the looks and immediately engaged a photographer for $250 a day to record each look
Our producer was enthusiastic to immediately release all of the 10 looks in the media. However I had to stop him by telling him that people would not find a need to go to a cabaret or a strip tease if the advertising posters had images from the final climax and there is nothing further to entice them in! I knew we had something precious and convinced him to hold back and am grateful he understood then. I had taken to heart the advise of Mr Mukta Srinivasan to closely guard my baby and just kept doing that.
Towards the end of the filming , during the tsunami sequence we realized we needed a crore more to achieve the visuals written by me for the climax.Now people nonchalantly talk about 20 to 30 crores , but back then it was huge . I offered to rewrite the script without the tsunami and end it with the train sequence , but the butterfly effect would have been lost. But I was willing to do it’s I had to have an alternative our producer You must remember here that I once made a film named Vikram which was then called ‘oru kodi rubai kanavu’, but within two decades it was about a crore more for just one sequence,but that’s the evolution of cinema with technology. However, Mr Ravikumar had fully understood the script and fought tooth and nail to get the climax done as scripted originally and we spent the additional 1 crore. I gave Mr Ravichandran some of my rights to the film as I ALWAYS invest in my movies and we were partners in the film and he had seen my vision to fruition and we pulled off what was near impossible then. note: Magic Girl☆Illiya Movie