Kochadaiyaan Review

by Sai Shyam G


A lot is riding on Superstar Rajinikanth’s ‘Kochadaiyaan’, as it happens to be India’s first motion capture photo-realistic 3D animated film. The success of this film would mean many film-makers taking up this technology, and it would help the makers to break barriers and cross the boundaries. Directed by Soundarya R Ashwin, AR Rahman has scored music for the film. The movie also boasts of a huge star cast including Deepika Padukone, Sarathkumar, Aadhi, Nassar, Jackie Shroff and others. Has the movie lived up to the hype? Read on to find the answer.

Plot


Rana (Rajinikanth), the leader of warriors in Kalingapuri, cons the king and switches sides to Kottaipattinam with the warriors. It is later revealed that he did that to fulfil his dad Kochadaiyaan’s (Rajinikanth again) last wish. He also has a reason to take revenge on the king of Kottaipattinam Rishikodagan (Nassar). Will he succeed doing it? Watch the film to know the answer.

Performances and characterization


As the movie employs motion capture technology, the entire film was shot inside a studio and all actions and reactions of the actors were captured by 48 cameras. Rajinikanth’s trademark mannerisms have been captured well to an extent and when he walks during the introduction song with SPB’s song in the background, you might just forget that you are watching an animated avatar of Superstar. If Rana character showcases a charming and energetic Rajinikanth, Kochadaiyaan character showcases the vintage Rajinikanth. The ‘Rudra Thandavam’ dance sequence is a sheer delight to watch. Rajinikanth’s magnetic voice is the biggest plus point of the film and the audience will go gaga over his punch-lines.

Nasser has been brought out almost perfectly in the animated form. He has a strong role in the film, but his characterization looks little dodgy towards the end. Kudos to the team for bringing in Nagesh, and it looks like a tribute to the veteran actor. Deepika Padukone could have looked better, while Sarathkumar looked more like Sarath Babu. Rukmini, Shobana, Aadhi and Jackie Shroff have short but vital roles, which they have done well.

Technicalities – Motion Capturing, Music and Camera


The promos and trailers gave us a hint of what to expect the film. Made at a budget and time frame which cannot be compared with Hollywood films, one cannot expect the movie to be technically flawless. What works in favour of the movie is that the team has given maximum attention to replicate Rajinikanth’s style and mannerisms. For instance, in one scene, Rajinikanth shuffles an elephant toy between his hands. The particular scene reminds us of the Rajinikanth we have seen in the 1990s. On the flip side, certain nuances like eye ball movements and emotions are not convincingly conveyed via motion capture technology.

AR Rahman’s music increases the tempo of the film at critical junctures, especially during the ‘Rudra Thandavam’ and ‘Ship fight’ sequences. It is always not easy for a music director to complement the extra-ordinary animated visuals. But, AR Rahman has managed to do it with terrific orchestration. Rajiv Menon should be lauded for bringing out the close-up shots of Rajinikanth so authentically (especially Kochadaiyaan character’s) that sends fans into a frenzy mode. Editing by Anthony is crisp and with a running length of under 2 hours, the movie does not test your patience.

Screenplay and Direction 


The movie’s screenplay is written by KS Ravikumar, who is known for directing super hit commercial entertainers, and it is surprising to see him come up with a period story. He has made sure that the movie has enough twists to keep you engaged. The dialogues are crisp and truly in Rajinikanth’s style.

Soundarya R Ashwin has made a brave decision by handling a new technology in her very first film. It is also a commendable attempt, as it is doubtful if the same story could have been made as a normal feature film, considering the large production cost this script would have incurred. It is an honour for anyone to direct Rajinikanth, and Soundarya has gone a step further by creating an animated version of him, which will stand the test of time. The movie ends with a small twist, which might pave way for a sequel.

In spite of the fact that animation and motion capturing involved in Kochadaiyaan are no match to Hollywood standards, this is just the beginning in Tamil cinema and it is a good beginning. If this movie is the output of the first attempt at motion capture technology in India, we can take it happily.