I know it's like 80 days since the movie released... But I guess it's never too late to write about a great movie. The best avatar of Kamalhaasan is definitely the invisible 11th one of the Story & screenplay writer. An intricately woven plot of ten seemingly unrelated characters and storylines merging towards the end with Kamalhaasan's commentary on the society and satire neatly woven in all along the way.
The criticism that the movie lacks a story line is stupid, considering most of the events in the movie happen in a span of about 72 hours.
It's easier to describe the movie through it's 10 characters so I'll do it that way. If you've not watched the movie then U probably shouldn't read this. But if you're like the scores of people who missed lots of minute details maybe this post is for you.
The Movie begins with Kamalhaasan (Govindaraj Ramasamy) addressing a huge crowd. He begins by explaining the butterfly effect and the Chaos theory! Kamal's commentary on the society begins too... He starts off by saying long before the English came here to divide us or religions divided us... we as a country were still fighting among ourselves. We're even fighting now!
Nambi: A Temple priest, who is dumped into the sea with the stone idol he prays because he defies the religious wishes of the king. He chooses to die with the idol over his family. It's pretty obvious what Kamal feels about idol worship and people who blindly follow god.
Govindaraj: The hero of the movie is a biologist who's involved in developing biological weapons for the USA even though his conscience is clearly against it. Isn't everyone like this? When his boss tries to sell off a potent biological weapon he fights them off and gets shipped to India along with the germs.
During a song In Govind is shown stepping out of a god's picture. Is Kamal trying to say Govind is like god's incarnate? or everyone who fights for good is god maybe? :P
Entry Asin the Heroine, in an extremely irritating character! She's a Brahmin? gal who lives in a Mutt and is attached to 'god' So when the vial of germs is put inside the statue of a god she clings to the statue and Govind through the movie. I used to like Asin before the movie... You'll understand if U have watched the movie. It's surprising Govind the brilliant scientist never thought of giving a whack on Asin's head and retrieving the vial to safety!
Govind & Asin have more than one discussions about caste. Asin is a stereotype upper caste girl (old lady?) who asks what caste he is. When she realises that he isn't upper caste she walks into a toilet to prevent him from touching the idol. Kamal quips 'You (people) feel god is better kept in the toilet than coming into contact with us'
Christian Fletcher Rocks! He's an ex CIA agent, mercenary He's single minded in his pursuit to recover the vial to his corrupt bosses. In the climax when he and Narahashi are fighting he quips "remember Hiroshima?" For which Narahashi replies "remember Pearl Harbour?" :) Fletcher also says "Here (India) anybody could get away with anything!" This is how foreigners think about India I guess!
Balarama Naidu, RAW officer, is a stereotype Police officer. He leaves the audience in splits with his Telugu accent and dialogue delivery. He's given the task of interrogating Govind the terrorist and recovering the vial of Germs. Once when Govind is almost caught at Kalifulla's house the first thing he asks Kalifulla is if he's from a terrorist Organisation. He then rounds up the whole village for interrogation at the local mosque, typical police behaviour when they're clueless!
Vincent Poovaraghavan is probably the most meaningful crater in the whole movie. He fights against illegal sand mining.
Avatar Singh is a singer, Avtar Singh is shown contemplating in front of a Sikh Religious Guru's pic as he gets closer the pic is replaced with Kamal's reflection! Kamal sort of acquits himself for Nambi's folly as Avtar Singh by choosing his family over his profession.
George Bush is portrayed as George Bush needs no description!
Krishnavaeni Paati has a small role to play
Kalifulla Khan is shown as a soft kind hearted Muslim, breaks the stereotype of the image people associate with the religion nowadays
Shingen Narahashi, Japanese martial arts trainer who avenges his sister's death, provides for some action at the climax with Fletcher
When Fletcher loses to Narahashi and ingests the germs and a large quantity of Common Salt is required to neutralise the germs. At that moment (on the morning of 25th December 2004) the Tsunami strikes and does the job! Kamal has tried to say there's some good even in that disaster. I'm surprised it didn't offend people.
With the Tsunami the statue of Vishnu along with Nambi's Skeleton chained to it? lands on the Beach! Implying God came with the Tsunami!!? When Govind rues at all the destruction and death, Asin says God sent the Tsunami to neutralise the Germs. Govind, offended asks why the all powerful god killed so many people Asin replies imagine how many lakhs would've died if the germ had spread! Kalifulla and his entire village is inside the Mosque when the Tsunami ruins his village.
At the end when Govind (Kamal) and Asin fall in love (OMG!) Kamal says 'When did I say God isn't there, I only said it would be nice if God is there!'