As Dasavatharam completes 13 years, Kamal Haasan RECALLS how many filmmakers rejected the script saying they didn’t understand it

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Kamal Haasan’s Tamil action thriller Dasavatharam has completed 13 years of release on June 14. The movie was definitely one of its kind that saw the actor in ten distinct roles, beating the nine-role records made by Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil film Navarathri (1964), Akkineni Nageswara Rao in Telugu film Navarathri (1966) and Sanjeev Kumar in his 1974 film Naya Din Nai Raat. The film went on to become the highest grossing south Indian film at that time with over Rs 200 crore worldwide beating the collections of Rajinikanth’s Sivaji: The Boss. However, Kamal has recalled how the film’s script was rejected by many filmmakers, before director K.S Ravikumar came on board.
“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 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,” Kamal, who also was the writer of the film, told IANS.
Kamal also shared how well-known filmmaker Mukta Srinivasan advised him to give the film his undivided attention. “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. He heard the ‘Dasavatharam’ script and he said ‘Kamal, you must watch over the film closely as it’s your idea and go further and say 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 advice and spent all my time on it,” he said.
The veteran actor recalled how he shared the story with close friends and colleagues, which gave confidence to go ahead. “Once I finished the logline with Mukta Srinivasan, the director was still sceptical about the way the script was written. We had Sujatha, Madhan, Ramesh Arvind, and Crazy Mohan 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 experts and have the expertise to analyse the script. My biggest support was from Sujatha who said ‘you got it bang on man’. The rest were new to the ideation, scale and budget,” he said.
Dasavatharam also featured Asin in two roles and Mallika Sherawat in an important role.