Dasavathaaram (Eng: The Ten Incarnations) is a 2008 Indian Tamil science fiction disaster film, directed by K. S. Ravikumar. It stars Kamal Haasan, who also wrote the screenplay and story of the film, in ten distinct roles.The record of playing most number of roles in one Indian film was made by Sivaji Ganesan in Navarathri followed by the Telugu film with the same title and in Hindi as Naya Din Nai Raat (1974) with Sanjeev Kumar and Kamal Haasan in Dasavathaaram (2008). Asin appears in two roles and Mallika Sherawat plays a subsidiary role. Dasavathaaram, which had been under production for nearly three years, was produced and primarily distributed by Venu Ravichandran. Primary filming locations included the United States and across Tamil Nadu in India. The soundtrack to the film was composed by Himesh Reshammiya and the background score was by Devi Sri Prasad.
The plot of Dasavathaaram revolves around bringing together the lives of several individuals beginning with the 12th century and ending with the 21st century; the main person being a research scientist who develops a bio-weapon and makes sure that it is not acquired by a group of terrorists. Several other people also get involved in the process and all their stories connect after the striking of a tsunami, thus bringing in philosophical views into the picture.
After delays in post-production, the film was released worldwide on 13 June 2008 in around 1300 prints worldwide including a dubbed version in Telugu. The aspects of the visual effects and the performances of the cast were appreciated while the music was unanimously criticized. A Hindi dubbed version, Dashavtar was released almost a year later.
Bio-scientist Govindarajan Ramaswamy speaks at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium about chaos theory and the butterfly effect. He begins by reciting events from the 12th century in Chidambaram, when King Kulothunga Chola II, a Saivite, persecutes Vaishnavites and intends to destroy an idol of Govindaraja. Rangarajan Nambi, a Vaishnavite, protects it and offends the king, who orders Rangarajan to be executed by being pierced, stoned, submerged into the sea with the idol, before being devoured by the shark, thus the king succeeding.
On 20 December 2004, a nano bio-technology lab in the United States designs a vector-virus intended as a bio-weapon. When they were watching the indsound his pet monkey breaking out of her cage. The monkey, who thinks he has the usual chocolate Govind would feed him, unknowingly swallows the sample of the virus instead, dying in seconds. The lab room of the monkey is filler with concentrated Salt solution, and is sealed permanently. After understanding the original virus’s lethal potential the hard way, Govind refuses to hand over the main single vial (containing the virus), due to fear of misuse. However, his boss, Dr. Sethu, has a malicious plan in mind, and tries to sell it to a terrorist group. Govind tries to sneak the vial out of the lab in order to save the vial from Sethu’s evil plan, but is pursued by the security guard and the police. Govind flees to a friend’s house for refuge, who secretly betrays him. A police helicopter housing former CIA agent Christian Fletcher, arrives. Fletcher shoots Govind’s friend and attempts to seize the vial. He firebombed the entire apartment with a grenade when a martial arts master, Yuga Narahazi, tries to defeat Fletcher and protects Govind. Govind manages to jump into another apartment’s window and escapes the building before the apartment is firebombed. The deadly weapon is inadvertently couriered to India aboard a passenger aircraft, safely in Govind’s hands. Govind boards into the aircraft secretly carrying the virus and changes its location. After arriving in India, he is questioned by Balram Naidu, a RAW operative. Govind unsuccessfully tries to explain the series of incidents.
Meanwhile, Fletcher, who has married an Indian assassin named Jasmine, arrives in India. Using her as a translator, Fletcher threatens Govind and takes him away in a jeep with a police officer. After exiting the city, Govind escapes from Fletcher and reaches Chidambaram. Fletcher follows him, after getting a cab, along with Jasmine. After Govind attempts to persuade the receivers of the package carrying the virus, one of the elephants in the temple is inadvertently freed and goes mad. The vial was accidentally thrown inside an idol of Govindaraja. In the chaos, Jasmine gets impaled on a blade on the wall by the elephant, and Fletcher ruthlessly shoots her instead of helping her. Govind and Andal, who is the granddaughter of Krishnaveni, an old woman for whom the package was sent, try to run away from Fletcher, and arrive in a ground where illegal sand miners are working. They try to rape Andal, but Govind defeats them and they sneak out after the interference of Vincent Poovaragan, a social activist, and saves an unnaturally tall Muslim named Khalifula and his family from a car-crash in the process. One of them, a lady, faints suddenly and is taken to a hospital, where Govind procures a cooling box to store the weapon, as it is unstable and its temperature needs to be maintained. He meets pop singer Avatar Singh, who is also there for treatment of his throat cancer. His prescription drugs are in a similar-looking box and before leaving the hospital, he unknowingly switches it with Govind’s box.
Fletcher follows them and takes Andal and the Muslim family hostage in their house, from where Govind is blackmailed to bring back the box he is carrying. With no choice, he reaches the place, only to discover that Avatar must have the weapon. The police surround the house, forcing Fletcher, Govind and Andal to flee in a jeep. Shinghen Narahazi, a Japanese martial arts expert, whose sister Yuga Narahazi was earlier killed by Fletcher, follows them. Avatar finishes his last performance and discovers the blunder, only to get shot by Fletcher after having a row.
Govind and Andal flee to reach a construction site, where Govind takes out the weapon before giving the idol to Fletcher. The sun dawns on 26 December 2004. Govind gets an idea from some drainage workers to immerse the virus in a large quantity of salt to destroy it. He goes to the sea, only to be stopped by Fletcher. Shinghen Narahazi arrives and fights with Fletcher. Both Narahazi and a motivated Govind fight Fletcher together and defeat him. Fletcher opens and swallows the virus. Suddenly, a tsunami strikes, washing away Fletcher, and causing great destruction along the coast. Poovaragan’s house is struck and he dies in a car after saving a child. Andal, Govind and Narahazi get into a boat. Krishnaveni arrives and cries after perceiving Poovaragan as her long-lost son. After relief measures are taken, Andal argues that god had sent forth the tsunami to get rid of the weapon. Govind responds by asking if god would destroy hundreds of lives to save millions. Then, they are later revealed to have been talking in front of the idol submerged in the 12th century. The scene shifts to the stadium, where Avatar, who had his cancerous growth taken away by Fletcher’s shot, along with several others, listening to the speech by Govind with Andal as husband and wife followed by former president George W. Bush as the credits roll.
Directed by K. S. Ravikumar
Produced by Venu Ravichandran
Written by Kamal Haasan & Sujatha Rangarajan
Starring Kamal Haasan, Mallika Sherawat, Asin, Jayaprada, Napoleon, Nagesh
Music by Songs: Himesh Reshammiya Background score: Devi Sri Prasad
Cinematography Ravi Varman
Edited by K. Thanikachalam
Production Aascar Film Pvt. Ltd
Distributed by Aascar Film Pvt. Ltd (India) Ayngaran International (Europe) Walt Disney Pictures (Canada)
Release date 13 June 2008
Running time 185 minutes