Movie Review: Kodi

There is a scene at the beginning of the third act of Kodi when Dhanush’s mother, played by Saranya (she must, by now, consider this role about as routine as brushing her teeth) has a conversation with a major character. She starts off saying that she is not happy with what her son has become, but the end of her monologue is a line whose sole purpose is to introduce her son as a swashbuckling character who is now set to conquer his enemies and take on the world. How did she get there from I’m-not-happy-with-what-my-son-has-become? Saranya tries gamely to seem concerned while saying it, but to no avail.

The asinine, shape-shifting nature of the monologue serves to illustrate one of the key problems with Kodi. After a passable first act that introduces the characters and the setting (only the romantic subplot seems tacked on), and an utterly engrossing second act that involves some Machiavellian plotting on all sides, the film’s writer cops out of creating a plausible denouement, choosing instead to take what can charitably called the “mass” route. What could’ve become an engrossing character drama and a whodunit becomes a generic star vehicle.

What is infuriating isn’t what it is, but what it could’ve been. For around 45 minutes to an hour in the middle, the plotting is absolutely top-notch. Two political parties, neither of which can claim moral high ground, fight for power in a small constituency. The prime movers in the locality on both sides are youngsters who have grown up in the milieu — while they are on opposite sides of the ticket, they also happen to be lovers. There’s enough conflict of interest here to make some cement-company-cum-cricket-board executives salivate. This is about as tight a segment as you could hope to find in a political thriller.

And then the writers choose to screw the pooch by making it a mass hero movie. What a waste of plot, of characters, of a performer like Dhanush!

Not that this is the only problem with the film. Trisha gets an absolute peach of a role, but her performance doesn’t match up. Part of the problem is that she simply doesn’t look the part of a semi-urban political mastermind. Had that been all, it would’ve been okay, but it is more than just that. Her body language and dialogue delivery feel way too urbane and reserved. It doesn’t help that her chemistry with Dhanush feels like it would never lead to any biology. Trisha’s strength has been accuracy (a film like Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya hits her sweet spot); this role demands range.

There is a line that features in the trailer: Kodi… parakkutha? We are supposed to think of Rajni, I am guessing. Now, invoking a bad Rajni movie doesn’t seem like such a wise move to begin with. But more importantly, I’m just inclined to tell the filmmaker not to ask questions he won’t like the answer to.

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One thought on “Movie Review: Kodi

  1. S says:

    Watched Kodi yesterday. Since I’d already read your write up a while back, I really appreciated how you’d danced around Sharanya’s mommy monologue without giving anything away and yet managed to make your point. I couldn’t agree with you more. [SPOILER AHEAD] The plotting was fantastic until then! They had to screw it up with the Psych 201 lecture on twinning and more laughably they had to scapegoat Sharanya (who until then had a decent if predictable arc) into shoving that Kool-aid down our throats so we’d quickly suspend disbelief even as our unexpectedly exhilarating ride as co-passengers on the amazing Amtrak is subverted by the scenic mountain train’s sudden morphing into a mass transit vehicle. The change in the emotional landscape (ours) is stark, thanks to this twist that is asinine and shapeshifting, as you put it.

    Despite this, I did like the movie overall. LOL @ your comment on the conflict of interest bit. Those portions in the movie were was so well conceived, with that stuttering friend on stand by. Contrary to your assessment, I quite liked the Dhanush-Trisha chemistry. They didn’t sizzle or anything, but I bought it. And I had such low expectations from Trisha after reading the review that it actually had the opposite effect on me as I watched her in it. Her love for that swivel chair from which she had just (literally and figuratively) unseated her mentor was IMO second only to Ganga’s (Jyotika) love for Chandramukhi’s anklet in that iconic scene in the latter film. It made me overlook the Psych-lesson snafu and ensuing mass-iness and embrace Rudra’s desperation for what it was.

    And oh, I loved the kozhi mutta cameo by that girl from Premam and her docile Dhanush intercuts.

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