Why Sivaji and Dasavatharam were hated?

A couple of days back there was a snippet in a newspaper in which a popular singer had gone on record to say that he hated the movie Sivaji. The reason offered was that the movie failed to match expectations. What was expected was actually something along the lines of an intelligent movie like Indian, but what was served was a masala entertainer that played to the galleries. Quite clearly, the viewer was disappointed at not getting what he/she wanted. There are no two opinions about the fact that the movie was a blockbuster, lapped up by Superstar fans all over the globe. But the opinion of the relative minority of people who thought that the movie was well below par is also pertinent. Dasavatharam too is a similar case. It was a huge grosser, but opinions about its failure to create an unforgettable spectacle also found a fair share of takers. Both Sivaji and Dasavatharam are very different movies in terms of content and presentation. But, both of them met with very similar receptions at the box office. They made humungous amounts of money and at the same time were at the receiving end of a few harsh views.

The thing that has to be noticed here is that both Sivaji and Dasavatharam were liked by the masses for what they were and criticized by a minority of the class viewers for what they never attempted to be. Let’s make things a bit more clear. Sivaji received its share of criticism for not being intelligent, for letting logic fly out of the window at many points and for making the improbable seem ridiculously easy. As mentioned earlier, the singer said that when he went to watch Sivaji, he had expected an intelligent entertainer like Indian. Now, if he or any other viewer of similar tastes did not like the movie, then it is presumably because of preset notions and expectations that they had while entering the theater. Yes, Sivaji was not intelligent and did not care for logic, but no one can deny that it was one hell of a Superstar movie if one was willing to let go of all inhibitions and enjoy it to the fullest. It does not mean that one had to leave their brains at home to enjoy Sivaji, it just means being a bit more flexible than normal.

Similarly for Dasavatharam. One gets the impression that many people walked into theater hoping to be mesmerized and enchanted and overawed by a spectacle so huge and unimagined of before. In short, they were hoping for one groundbreaking movie experience. But, they felt cheated when they were offered a 2 hour road chase between a Yankee and an Indian for a vial with a killer virus. For all the castles that had been built in the mind, this seemed ridiculously trivial. Again, many among the audience, amidst their growing disappointment, failed to appreciate the nuances in the movie, the fine performances, the technical perfection and tight screenplay. More people were interested in questioning the wisdom behind Kamal playing 10 roles rather than looking at the strengths of the movie.

Both in the case of Sivaji and Dasavatharam, it is the expectations and preset notions that played the spoilsport for many a viewer. It has been quite commonly seen that people hated the movie for what it never attempted to be rather than trying to like it for what it was. Sivaji never held the illusion of being cerebral, Dasavatharam never tried to hold anybody in awe or in trance. Both the movies had very clear objectives, to entertain. That they did in different ways in different measures. What we must try to understand is that at times it pays much better to like a movie for what it is than to criticize it for not being something that you expected it to be. After all, the movie belongs to its maker and he need not essentially share the same thoughts as the viewer. Let’s try to accept a movie as it is, rather than crow over what it could have been.

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