When I finished watching Kochadaiyaan, I stepped in to an introspection on what makes a movie good. I am not speaking about what makes a movie a hit (or a super hit or a blockbuster) because if you have a star vehicle combined with good marketing and wider release, you will have a hit movie in hand. But whether it will be a movie that will be remembered, it doesn’t depend on the hit factor. What makes the movie remembered? Is it because of the star? Is it because it ran 100 days? Is it because it had a good story? Is it because it had picture perfect screenplay? I think it is because it had an impact on people. A everlasting impact because of clear execution of ideas. For instance, a movie like Panchathanthiram which was a box office dud when it got released has a cult following even now.
Animated films have grown a long way. Initially, it was done to show uncommon humour scenes but it slowly moved towards human emotions. I would say Pixar’s Toy Story (1995) is a great example of how animated characters started showing emotions. You started relating to Woody’s antics and heroism of Buzz Lightyear. Motion Capture became the next level of movie making. The biggest advantage of motion capture is that you can combine real life actors with imaginary environment. Motion capture technique is used in two ways – it can be a movie like Kochadaiyaan where you capture the real life actors and then animate them to provide a complete animated movie or it can be like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) where only few characters are motion captured (Andy Serkis as Caesar the ape) while other actors are real in the movie. Motion capture movies enable the directors to imagine the unthinkable. It makes impossible things possible like Avatar. James Cameron had to invent a camera to complete that saga. To be fair, all his efforts were worth it.
Is Kochadaiyaan worth the effort and wait? The blunt truth is a big NO. The problem with Kochadaiyaan is that you don’t relate with the characters in the movie. They are plastic, both in form and content. The movie lacks strong characterisations and the director (Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin) tries to buoy you with technical gimmickry. The worst part is those gimmicks are an eye sore. The strength of an animated feature is is how well you relate to the character in the movie. For instance, I cried for Wall-E and Eva (Wall-E, 2008). A Rajinikanth movie in the post super star period (after Annamalai) followed certain patterns. Even then, you would relate to the pain of Kandhavelu Vanavarayan or rejoice with Padayappa because you love him when he wins against all odds. He embodied a certain optimism that his fans yearned for and he gave it to them every movie. Kochadaiyaan failed in that regard because you don’t relate much with Rana like you did with Muthu or Kochadaiyaan like you did with Zamindar of Muthu. The other problem is the way screenplay (KS Ravikumar) meanders like a headless chicken (I really don’t how people call it slick). Characters come and go without any premise whatsoever and after sometime, you just give it up at the way movie moves. The overemphasis on Rajini factor kills the movie.
Kochadaiyaan was a lofty idea to start with. The biggest disadvantage in making an animation movie is that you need to be careful with the details. To be honest, I missed those smirks, smiles and expressions that every actor could have come up with. With such a talented star cast (Nasser, Shobana, Aadhi, Deepika, Jackie Shroff) the director’s imaginations should have had a riot but what you see is just a failed cracker. It is not a joke when some people say “Devil is in the details”. There is no point in talking about how bad is the animation because it is bad beyond repair but the way makers trying to market the movie is pathetic. On one hand, they try to compare it with Tintin and Avatar (you should look at Soundarya’s interviews on TV) and on the other hand, they come up with excuses like that they did whatever they could in the budget provided. The point is why make a movie when you can’t make it the best. To be honest, Soundarya wouldn’t have made it any better than what it is now. May be we would have seen the characters standing on the floor or Rajini would not have looked like Murali in some scenes or we would not have played “identify the actor” game in the theatres. The vision needed to make such a movie is far more complex than what people think.
On the positive note, Rahman’s score was the only palatable aspect in the movie but not his songs though. Except for Enakkagathan (that sounded like Then Sindhuthe Vaanam), other songs were passable. Bringing back Nagesh to life is a laudable idea but it dies in the mire that Soundarya has created. A lacklustre screenplay that poses more questions than answers, wasted talent and above all a complete failure in execution makes Kochadaiyaan a dull watch. And when the movie ends with a “To be continued” screen, you just can’t believe what you are seeing.
Probably, Soundarya should be thanked for one thing. She showed our movie directors how tough it is to make a motion capture animated movie. She should also be reprimanded for the same as she killed the dreams of many directors.
I go with 1/5 (and I don’t know what it is for)