Starring: Dhanush, Trisha Krishnan, Anupama Parameswaran
Directed by: R S Durai Senthilkumar
What a family of dramatists this is! Father(Karunaas) a political worker sets himself on fire to protest against a factory’s toxic wastes(little does he know about the toxic wastes that we the audience have to tolerate after he conks off). Twin sons Kodi and Anbu(Dhanush and Dhanush) grow up loving/hating politics, depending on which twin you are looking at.
Don’t worry. Dhanush makes it easy for us to recognize the twins. The ambitious yuvapolitician Kodi( a distant cousin of Suriya in Mani Ratnam’s Aaytha Ezhuthu) sports a beard and romances with a fellow-politician played by Trisha(who seems to have sauntered into the made-for-Dhanush vehicle more out of curiosity than genuine interest). Anbu the other twin is clean shaven and Mama’s pet.
Ram Aur Shyam couldn’t have done better.
This is Yash Chopra’s Deewaar with Dhanush playing both Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. Sarnaya Ponnvanan makes an effortless Nirupa Roy, so effortless that you wonder if she is thinking of her next shooting shift and whose mother she will be playing next.Dhanush suffers no such conflicts. He knows exactly what he is playing.
It’s his super-iconic father-in-law Rajnikanth whom Dhanush pays a homage to in this modernday swashbuckler where the swords are replaced by political rhetorics and sword fencing with rapidly-shifting political allegiances and fence-sitting.
Indeed Kodi marks Dhanush’s political awakening and an unabashed admiration for Tamil’s most iconic star who also happens to be his father-in-law.Regrettably, Dhanushlacks the swag and the swagger to pull off a Rajnikanth. Dhanush’s Rajnicentric antics include a profusion of political rhetorics( a la Kabali) .These are designed to be cautiously non-partisan, meant to make their point without offending or affecting Tamil Nadu’s politics.
Political cinema in Tamil has indeed come a long way from the unabashed era of political cinema featuring MGR.Dhanush sits guardedly on a fence with his political ideology. He ends up looking like a Kabali without the guts or the balls.
Designed to be a modernday Deewaar with the two brothers locking horns while Ammastews in her grief on the slow burner, Kodi lacks both the verve and the punch of a solid political thriller.There are seeds of a commendable edge-of-the-seat drama tucked in the interiors of the plot where no man can reach .
All novelty and thrills are squandered in the narrative in pursuit of conferring a flamboyant heroism on Dhanush. His introductory scene has him confronting a bunch of goons on the road while he drives school children . He covers the car to shield the kids from exposure to violence before walloping the baddies to a pulp.Such mock-heroism sits effortlessly on Rajnikanth. On another actor it looks strained unconvincing and embarrassing.
The script makes scant effort to uphold the politician-hero Kodi’s political ambitions. There is a frustrating scarcity of conflict in the politics of Kodi.Kodi’s differences of opinion with his political mentor come so late you wonder what the fuss is all about,. Even the ideological differences between the two brothers are fitful and kneejerk in their impact on the overall dramatic tension.
Kodi is like one of Prakash Jha political dramas with fleets of politicians’ cars speeding in sirened selfimportance down dusty highways. Not really getting anywhere in a hurry.There are gripping stopovers in the script where the characterization gather momentum and seem to overcome the inherent ineffectuality of the narration. But the effort eventually goes to waste. And the film falls in a collapsed heap at the feet of a political reverence for the powers-that-be.
Neither brave enough to take on contemporary politics nor creative enough to construct a fictional political parable, Kodi is a half-finished effort where two Dhanushes do not add up to double the drama and thrills.They only spotlight the identity crisis of a product that is unable to live up to its own ambitions.Quite like what happens to the politician-hero of this film who we can neither admire nor abhor.