Tamil Reviews

Kodi Review: A new take on the political thriller formula

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Kodi is a curious film. It has all your usual commercial film elements. There’s the aggressively male hero, with an abundance of facial hair. There’s a corrupt system that needs fixing. Two heroines that ‘need’ wooing, one of whom is the target of a whole lot of mansplaining.

As a filmmaker, director Durai Senthilkumar takes one all-important social issue, gives it some emotional connect and spins a story out of it. The way KV Anand does. As a formula, it’s a pretty successful one. Kodi follows Durai’s Ethir Neechal and Kaaki Sattai, both of which were moderately successful at the box office.

As a formula, it’s also quite generic.

The film is co-produced by Vetrimaaran (with Dhanush). And this is where the film gets its more colourful moments. Vetrimaaran’s touch is visible in the way the film’s big reveals play out.

The way Dhanush’s Kodi/Anbu so consistently follows stereotypes only to turn it on its head later on.

The way the film ends. It’s all pure Vetrimaaran.

And then, I am reminded of the film’s plot.

Twins Kodi and Anbu are your usual Tamil Cinema twins. They are polar opposites; but both fall for gainfully employed idiots (Durai Senthilkumar indulges his manic pixie girl fantasy yet again).

While one climbs up the slippery slope of TN politics, the other spends his time writing mesh analysis on the board and expecting (rather naively) the students to pay attention.

In the constantly changing political landscape, Kodi and his brother Anbu are mere chattel.

The life of Rudhra (Trisha Krishnan) is even more precarious. And so when things pit Kodi and Rudhra against each other, it is time for Santhosh Narayanan to bring out the cymbals.

And then?

Then, Tamil cinema stereotypes take over.

*****

Politics is mere window dressing in Kodi. This fact is never more apparent than when so-called elections take place in the movie. In the space of mere seconds, Dhanush and Trisha attain levels others work forty years for.

Five scenes later, Trisha is a Central Minister in waiting.

Clearly, the storyline is geared towards propping up its star. There are many genuinely fun ‘hero’ moments. Slow mo shots of Dhanush walking, wayfarer glasses and all. The camera certainly loves this man’s face. Some heavy duty rapping by Arunraja Kamaraja doesn’t hurt either.

There’s plenty of emotional scenes for Dhanush the actor too. He laughs, cries and curses wildly. As Kodi, Dhanush is pure dynamite. As Anbu, he’s the class clown. Thus giving hardcore Dhanush fans a hint of the actor in him.

With Santhosh Narayanan’s music to pep things up, it’s quite an enjoyable ride alright.

Only there’s a thread of chauvinism that runs throughout this movie.

Dhanush’s Kodi delights in his girlfriend’s outspokenness and is very indulgent of her political aspirations. He listens to her list of ambitions with a smirk on his face. He’s letting the little woman talk, Kodi seems to tell the audience. Soon after this, he gives her the usual Tamil hero spiel: why don’t you stay home and look after me and my mom?

“I’ve got bigger dreams.” Rudhra tells him.

Kodi smiles unrepentant, convinced things will go his way.

And so when the twist in the tale does come later on, it’s hard not to sympathise with Trisha’s Rudhra. The little woman can only take so much after all.

The other twin Anbu’s lover is egg seller Malathy. An enterprising woman child, a half foot shorter than Dhanush, and easily a decade younger.

Anupama Parameswaran has a variety of wide eyed expressions at her disposal. If the kind of applause that her appearance onscreen garnered is any indicator, she’s a worthy successor to Nazriya Nazeem. And yet, she tends to come across too young, immature to play the female lead. Especially opposite a college lecturer like Anbu (Dhanush).

The lovely Ei Suzhali that traces the romantic escapades of these two becomes particularly creepy in this light.

Especially when Dhanush sings:

Un Vayasathan Thithipa Thinnen (I ate your sweet innocence)

So, yes, Anupama was probably not the best choice for the role. The banter between her Malathy and Dhanush’s Anbu is more that of siblings than lovers.

*****

Trisha is resplendent as the FabIndia version of your average female politician. There are lovely sarees, elaborate hairstyles and ikkat blouses. Chaithanya Rao brings his A-game to this project, and it’s all quite nice to look at. Trouble is Durai Senthilkumar has written ‘Theepori‘ Rudhra as a deeply conflicted woman caught between her desire for power and her love for a rival politician.

Trisha plays the role as she did Hemanika. The actress’ innate reserve and limited body language was quite alright for the classy danseuse in Yennai Arindhaal. Here though, in a role written for actress Anjali or even Parvathy, Trisha is gloriously miscast.

For a character that requires her to be as in your face and aggressive as possible, Trisha is stiff, ill-at-ease. She pouts where she should rage; and looks more like a scheming teenager than a  manipulative woman.

The fanboys in the theatre didn’t seem to mind, though. They cheered every time they saw her onscreen. Including her many ads for a jewellery store.

*****

What doesn’t help is the terrible CGI work in this movie. There’s an excuse for a snake that slithers (melts) out of Trisha’s grasp in a scene. And a leopard sighting that leaves much to be desired.

Also, there’s just too much unrestrained macho behaviour. Dhanush continues to ill treat women in his films. When Malathy slaps Anbu, his mother tells him to go return the ‘favour’. When Kodi slaps her for Anbu, everybody including the mother rejoice. The theatre I was in erupted into cheers.

Not an encouraging sign for the state of Tamil cinema or the current generation.

*****

This is certainly a step-up from Dhanush’s previous release Thodari. There are strong performances from Dhanush, Kaali Venkat, neat music and background score by Santhosh Narayanan. Barring a few inconsistencies, the film itself is a smart new take on your political thriller. The film works in parts. But hey, at-least it works!

*****

The Kodi review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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