Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star cast: Rajnikanth, Deepika Padukone, Jackie Shroff
Director: Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin
What’s Good: Rajnikanth. The name says it all.
What’s Bad: Though the film seems like a sincere effort, the product churned out isn’t satisfactory. The animation is poor making the film an extended video game at best.
Loo break: Quite a few.
Watch or Not?: Kochadaiiyaan was touted to be a ground breaking realization for Indian cinema but doesn’t turn out to be anything nearly close to Avatar in terms of slickness or fun. Débutant filmmaker Soundarya Rajinikanth weaves a massive tapestry of myriad themes and squabbles between them getting lost in the bylanes of her own confusing subplots. Avatar had that conspicuous gut grabbing quality which had its audiences mesmerized because of the profound cinematic experience it emanated. Kochadaiyaan was expected to be similar but is largely a forgettable film which will be best described as a minuscule step closer to creating India’s most overpowering film. Despite a quasi empathetic story, the film lacks the required finesse coming across as amateurish.
Kochadaiiyaan, fine commander in chief of Kottaipatanam, was earning accolades from all and sundry. Earning fame, the respect of masses and more, Kochadaiiyaan’s popularity was at such a peak that it drove its ruler towards insecurity. His valor and enigma becomes so risky for the king, that he entangles him in a false case of treason and has him beheaded.
The man’s glory is turned to blood over the King’s insecurities. Kochadaiiyaan’s son Rana takes it on him to avenge his father’s death and bring back his glorious image. Plotting his way through things, Rana wins over the ruler of Kottaipatanam and gets appointed as the commander of the kingdom. But Rana’s motives are not benevolent or benign.
The film is about his journey to succeed in his mission of keeping Kochadaiiyaan’s name untarnished and restoring back the glory of his dead father.
Kochadaiiyaan Review: Script Analysis
If you have read Indian folklores, Kochadaiyaan’s story isn’t the best bit about the film. With an unshapely script, the storyline fails to infuse any surprise element in its narrative, working solely towards establishing the charisma of its titular character who is the commander-in-chief of Kottaipatanam. With the chief becoming the absolute power holder of the region, the shaky ruler ploys ways of getting power back in his control. Accused falsely by the King of betraying the kingdom, Kochadaiiyaan is beheaded. Thus begins the tale of revenge and power play.
I find it hard to support films that lack novelty and probably this is just one of them. In terms of story, the film’s research work isn’t adequate. Though Amitabh Bachchan’s magnificent voice introduces an enchanting tale, the magical factor of the film fizzles out halfway through the runtime. Over time the story builds up the sympathy factor for Rana, however, the film’s regular Mahabharata-ish recipes of valiance and honesty aren’t dealt in the best possible way. Rana easily is the film’s hero, but the film’s title can probably be justified by pointing out that Kochadaiiyaan forms the film’s soul. The dynamics of the warring dynasties of Kalingapura or Kottaipatanam is sketchily scripted.
Though in animation films, script isn’t the winner often, in a photo realistic film it’s essential to be backed by a solid script because there are no performances to fall back on. The film’s war scenes look smashing and after one of these magnificent sequences, is the scene of a little boy running away with blood splashed all over his face.
Though I understand, that shuffling between past and present is important to give the film a non linear narrative and keep the excitement throbbing through the story, in this case it would have been better to have stuck to the rule book and told the story in blocks without shifting too much between flashbacks and present day scenario. Rana winning over Kalingpura and then betraying them is almost nailbitingly done, it is what that sequence builds up to is awe striking. Perhaps this was the best part of the entire film where Rana succeeds in becoming the commander-in-chief of Kottaipatanam only to realize his own motives again. That’s the only place in the film where the half history and half fictional saga remotely attains what it had started out for.
Kochadaiiyaan Review: Star Performances
Rajinikanth is magnetic even when he is not present in flesh and blood. Such is the power of Thalaiva. This time the actor’s iconic swishing moves have been executed on swords and darn he does that with such class. In a film that can be best described as ordinary, he consistently remain stellar. Juggling between Kochadaiiyaan, Rana as well as Dharma, the actor gives an insight into his versatility which has helped him get the demi God stature over the decades!
Deepika Padukone romancing Rajinikanth is hard to digest but the film makes their romance quite pleasing as well as believable. As Princess Vardhana, she is better than merely good and quite fits the bill.
Jackie Shroff, Sath Kumar, Shobhana and mostly Nagesh is brilliant. Using animation to build Nagesh is done with remarkable perfection. In an earlier interview with Koimoi, Saundarya Rajnikanth explained how they recreated Nagesh by finding a guy who sounded exactly like him. Well lady, on this one you scored good!
Kochadaiiyaan Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
The most magnanimous part of an animation film is its direction and though Soundarya Rajnikanth has done a perseverent job, it isn’t quite neatly tied up. Probably taking Kochadaiiyaan‘s name in the same breath as Avatar did more harm than good to film. The expectations have skyrocketed real high and hence the film seems even more disappointing. If one sniffs closely, the film is quite brilliantly conceived. Even the excitement was kept consistent on the story level. But it is the execution that turns out shabby making the film look like a videogame based on some historical era. To blend perfectly technology and imagination is what a photo realistic film offers and after Cameron’s inspired Avatar, Kochadaiiyaan is an insipid affair.
Not to demean the talented debutant filmmaker, who has done her best bit for sure, the nitty gritties weren’t satisfactorily attended to resulting in the failure to achieve the cinematic translation of the mental picture. On a very superficial level, the beady eyed characters and the faltering lip syncing was distracting.
Had she kept the plot simple and worked harder in smothering the flaws better, the film would have commanded a better connect with the audiences. While animation films are all about being catapulted into an alternative universe and experiencing everything differently, Kochadaiiyaan despite being sincere doesn’t quite leave by the same feeling. Though A.R Rahman’s background score as well as the film’s music try to resurrect a lofty picture, the film is all dressing and little meat.
Kochadaiiyaan Review: The Last Word
Kochadaiiyaan is not the work of an amateur and I give Soundarya the credit for trying her hand in something so mid boggling as well as dangerous. The mere look at one of the exquisite war sequences convey the magnitude of her imagination, but the translation of the same into celluloid was half baked. Despite the story having a soul to it, the animation discrepancies suck it out from the film. IT doesn’t have the quaff value of Avatar but for the thumping effort alone, I am giving this film a 2.5/5. Probably the sequel Rana will have that unprecedented quality I am looking for.
Kochadaiiyaan releases on 23rd May, 2014.
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