Review: Rajni’s Kochadaiyaan is a bad puppet show

koch1Holy subtext, Batman. Rajinikanth stands amid a collection of statues, pretending to be his own effigy. Deepika Padukone, the patroness who has commissioned said sculpture, looks appraisingly over Rajni’s body, halting at his bottom. This should really be a little ampler, she complains to the carver, following which Rajinikanth — who had, for some inexplicable reason, kept butt-cheeks clenched in an attempt to look more lifeless — now sticks out his Superstar bum, on cue. “Arre waah!”, exclaims Deepika, who clearly has unholy designs on her latest purchase.

God help us all.

Speaking of unholy designs, this film is one. Kochadaiyaan, which apparently means “long-maned warrior king” might as well now stand for “an unending round of Sims played by someone drunk on toddy.” This is a loud, unforgivably tacky production, handicapped not merely by substandard animation but a complete lack of imagination. Directed by the star’s daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin, Kochadaiyaan has the primary problem most Indian animation faces — that of scripts written for regular films shoehorned into an animated format instead of writing specifically for animation — but this time the motive is a unique one: a fountain of youth.

Thalaivar is getting older, and a significant part of the country is in denial. Now clearly too old to play ass-kicking, punchline-hurling twirler of cigarettes, this is an attempt at keeping Rajinikanth eternally young. It is an ambitious idea, one that in theory could eventually force today’s stars to move over and let the old guard reign forever (like one of the voice actors on The Simpsons, a television show that will outlive us all.) It isn’t an altogether bad — or altogether new — idea, and, personally, I often envision the day a digitally crafted Sean Connery can play James Bond again, but as the first genuine megastar anywhere to gamble on the idea, it must be said Rajinikanth stumbles quite woefully.

koch2Kochadaiyaan‘s severest sin is vanity. In its desperation to make Rajni more awesome than he ever was, the animators don’t seem to have concentrated anywhere besides his face. The film itself begins with thousands of people depicted in gold, as if a novice 3DStudio Max operator in the 90s had just stumbled upon metallic textures and excitedly let loose, a reckless Midas. Even though colours eventually appear, the many extras aren’t paid any attention, coming across purely as puppets. The true cruelty, however, is reserved for Superstar’s hapless co-stars.

Jackie Shroff, for example, would be well within his rights to ask that the animated version of himself be made less jowly, and even, since this is indeed animation, restore the General Alcazar-like jaw from his own glory days. And as for the striking Deepika Padukone, she is here cursed with a seriously creepy grin —  a la the new Anushka Sharma — and a Barbie-body that moves sometimes like a mermaid and sometimes like a skittish salamander. She looks fine enough in profile with her mouth closed, but the rest of the time she — she of the abnormally wide mouth — looks like she wants to crack open her hero’s head and slurp down boiled Rajni brain.

The film’s plot isn’t a particularly bad one — though it is a tad tiring to see Rajni do a Khaleesi and play slave-warrior politics — but this is one historical drama that creaks under its own weight. There are lots of wars and alliances and so forth, but even more songs, songs I wager AR Rahman composed while napping. The result is a painfully simple revenge drama made unbearable by bad animation and constant, constant fanfare — when it is this loud, it cannot justly be called background score.

Credit where it’s due, however, the chariots and elephants look pretty decent. (Up close, that is. When in a long-shot, marching together, all those cloned sprites look like the kind of screensaver BR Chopra would have used.)

Walking into this film, however, I had braced myself for the bad animation — and for Rajni towering over Deepika — because weak animation can never truly get in the way of good storytelling. Kochadaiyaan, alas, is a fundamentally flawed dud, one without anything to applaud besides grand (if self-glorifying) ambition. And little is as heartbreaking to witness as utterly failed ambition.

Rating: One star

~

First published Rediff, May 23, 2014

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87 Comments

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87 responses to “Review: Rajni’s Kochadaiyaan is a bad puppet show

  1. thalavar

    u r really sick person to say this review. go to hell

    • mak

      really i m north indian live in up but trust me as an film this is the one hell show very boring i was expecting from rajini after robot but thts bcoz of shankar this ifilm is just for south where rajini is star not in whjole india only shankar can make a ntach film

    • Skag

      And you are just as sick ‘thalavar’ if you cannot take a review-its after all a review, a critique on a movie, why are we all over-reacting. To call someone sick just because he spoke his mind, seriously man, duh!

  2. John

    Really? Raja Sen?..Really!

  3. cinecritics

    film deserve 4 out of 5 …but your review was biased ..but who care ? in my area there was one proverb….if dogs bark on sun then sun wont go away …you could understand who is sun and …?

    • iamib mer

      There is one proverb in our area which best fits here than the one you has cited from yours. Somebody who just close the eyes and says it is now dark, you could under stand who has closed his eyes and saying it is dark, right?. Poor chap cane critics, grow up to face the light. At least be trustworthy to yourself

    • Skag

      Well Cinecritics, so Rajasen is the dog and the actor in the movie is the sun-so where does that leave you-a pathetic, fanatic fan-Rajasen’s critique was as objective as he could be, you can’t face the truth, then walk away

  4. vignesh

    but in this case, dog barking at solar lamp..

  5. Who paid you to write this review Mr.Raja Sen ? I have never read such a painful description of a creative effort ever. Writing film reviews is a huge responsibility one that surely transcends the minute by minute critical evaluation that you have done. Your effort is down right abject.

    • Skag

      Really Vijay… If Raja Sen was paid to do it, well he is at least doing business, what’s your purpose in supporting bad artwork, thinking of throwing us Tamilians back another generation. Thank you we are good

  6. thalaivar fan

    Ivaru periya dubuku reviews pottaru

  7. loinji

    Well written review. As for all those who have commented, it is quite clear that all of you are Rajini fan boys (nothing wrong with that). Take a moment to step back and look at the Indian animation industry, there hasn’t been much progress. Kochadaiyaan in fact reminds of the 2000 animation epic Pandavas:The five warriors which wasn’t remembered for its animation. and like Mr Raja sen mentioned, scripts meant for live action cannot be directly applied to animation movies. When will the Indian animation Industry take measure to get out this rut let alone soil Rajini’s name.

    • Ashutosh

      I was exactly reminded of Pandavas too… jerky movements, faces with generic expressions and a general lack of energy that is needed to make the viewer invest in the story. If it were not for the image of Rajnikanth, this film would have been irredeemable.

  8. Skv

    Don’t ever dare to comment like this. No one in India other than Rajni can try new tech in cinema. You sick persons can’t digest the hit of the film.

    • ABC

      It is really a crap.. Just waste of money.My sincere advice to those who are still planning to go to theatre for such a crap. At donate ur hard earned money to someone is in need. This movie doesnot deserve a single penny..Please dont waste ur money.

    • SRK

      “No one in India other than Rajni can try new tech in cinema.” Really? Where have you been all this while – in a cave with no contact with the outside world??

    • Seshadri

      Crazy !! What do u mean by innovation ? 3D / Animation / Motion Capture – all together, right ?? Who is best in doing innovation in Cinema ?? Is it Rajini or Kamal ?? Rajini’s success in cinema for long years is due to making films suiting to Rajini without any innovation !! Simply apply Rajini forumlae towards commercial, that’s it !! If you try to do anything different with Rajini, then the film will be flop !! Innovation is part of Kamal Hassan and it is not Rajini’s cup of tea !!

  9. Thank you for telling the truth raja sen…. Its surprising that people refuse to admit that it’s a bad film just because it’s Rajinikanth…

  10. It is a utter flop and please do not waste your time to view this lolly pop

  11. Royce

    ரஜனி என்பவன் ஒரு கூத்தாடி அவனுக்கு இத்தனை கூத்தாடிகளா இந்தியர்கள் அறிவுடையவர்கள் வல்லரசை கட்டி எழுப்புபவர்கள் என்று மார்தட்டும் இந்திய குடிமக்கள் இன்று வெறும் சில மணி நேர ஒளிப்பதிவு காட்ச்சிகளுக்காய் செய்யும் தியாகங்களை பார்க்கும் போது இன்னும் தமிழ் நாடும் அதன் மக்களும் சங்க காலத்திலேயே வாழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கும் விகடகவிகள் போன்று தோன்றுகிறது.

    எப்பொழுது சினிமா மோகமும் பெண்கள் வன்முறையும் அழிகின்றதோ அப்பொழுது தான் இந்தியா வல்லரசாகும் என்பதை மனதில் நிறுத்திக்கொள்ளுங்கள் ……………

    இவனும் இவன் குடும்பமும் வயிறு நிறைய உண்டு குடித்து வாழ்ந்து கொண்டிருக்க வயிறை காயப்போடும் மூடர்களை ஒரு கணம் எண்ணிப்பார்க்கும் போது ஏளனமாய் தெரிகின்றது 125 கோடி யை கொண்டு 1000 ஏழைகளை நிரந்தரமாக் வறுமையிலிருந்து விடுவிப்பவந்தான் தலைவன் என்பதை மறக்கடித்து சினமாக்கூதாடித்தனத்தால் மக்களை ஏமாற்றும் இவனை தலைவன் என்பவநெல்லாம் உண்மையில் மூடர்கள் தான்…………….

    • vck

      absolutely horrible animation; pathetic film really!
      soundarya rajinikanth has taken everyone for a ride!
      please dont see this film in a theatre; buy a dvd for 20 rs in
      burma bazaar and see it.

    • prasanna

      Well Said :)

    • Thalapathy

      dai unaku ennada eriyudhu..ella cinema actorsum koothadinga than avanga padamellam un kannuku theriyalaya..vera engayuma nee comment pannala..inga mattum vanthu periya nallavan madhiri pesitu irukka..entire cinema industryum nee kora solli irundha nee oru nadunilayana aalu..ana nee oru biased personu neeye prove pannita..nee unmayana ambalaya irundha ella actorsoda padathukum ithe madhiri comment pannuda pakkalam..

      • Kals

        Don’t write Tamil in English. Better write in English. Of course if you know how to write in English. Or like Mr.Royce, use some tools to write in Tamil.

    • unnai thalai van endru ethuk kolanuma

    • You can talk these kind of stories in a meeting or in a public speech. This is no the place. Well even American countries and few European countries are addicted to entertainment? So what? They didn’t develop? Cameroon’s avatar was taken at more than 200 million budget, so what it can serve many poor Americans? Like any other field cinema is also an industry and they invest money in terms of entertainment and technology. That’s nothing wrong. Padam pakkara naala india dull arasu aaiduchaama? illaina vallarasu aaidumama? What a stupid assumption.

  12. his review is from a rajini fan who is an average citizen of India, but I have tried my level best to be neutral. This is my opinion about the movie after watching it on first day….
    After all, the Kochadaiiyan have been released and our Thalaivar is back with a bang. Amidst all the issues the magnum opus Tamil movie has released. As said in the title it’s India’s first performance capture or photorealistic film.
    Really, it was very pleasant to see the Thalaivar on screen after a long gap of more than 3 and half years that is after October 1, 2010 the date in which Endhiran released. The theatre roared with applauses when the Thalaivar appeared on the screen.

    http://humblemenview.blogspot.in/2014/05/kochadaiiyan-king-is-back-with-bang.html

  13. Kaushik

    Clearly 60% from the big budget have been wasted and what we see is half baked puppet animation in the name motion realistic capture technic and promoted shamelessly tauting using avatar technology.how come?

  14. padhu

    Wasted few minutes of my lifetime reading some sick fella’s review…

  15. Annp'm

    Who ever said this attempt was really brave, and deserves appareciations good ,… We put a step ahead in the animation area .. instead of giving negative argument, give some support ..

  16. Sundar

    ok guys lets asusual encourage english 3D films
    as we wont support our indian talent (this is also asusual)

  17. Kirankumar

    Good and impresive dhalapathy is always dhalapathy

  18. nethaji

    I don’t think so!

  19. Absolute Junk animation….literal robots moving on the screen…just because of Rajanikanth it has survivied an utter flop i should say

  20. well wisher

    Hi Raja Sen

    Liked your review for the reason that it was so lively and “creative”

    Am not sure if you are aware of the difference between animation and motion capture movies… but in case you do not please do take a little time off to read this http://current360.com/play/traditional-animation-vs-motion-capture/

    I didn’t like the animation either but when it was a good try for an indian movie and for the budget put in for such a movie…

    Another noticable fact in your review seems to a disdain for music as well.. Well am from South India and have heard the karnatic music and recently after all the Illaiyaraja and ARR followed by many… believe the plan karnatic is much sweeter to the ears.. and was pleased to hear ARR use the best platform available to sweeten ours ,.. at least mine..

    Am not sure which language you did watch because for me the tamil used in the movie was much better than the movies released these days.. am inclined to appreciate the very attempt to use better tamil… especially a song in ancient tamil was an absolute treat…

    And I did notice that there was no mention on the Visual effects or the dances or the acting… or the very approach of making a “unique” movie… that it was a first of its kind in indian movie was even not mentioned by you shows your lack of home work…

    I hope this is your personal opinion and hoping you get things right before you jump to conclusions… signing off.

    • Vijay

      Well said….. Raja Sen can settle in Hollywood and review there for his capability, he is mistakenly born in India…. Fate !!!

    • Truly said dude, Rajan sen is from Pandora planet. So he will talk in standards of Avatar. No fucking people had the gusts to take a full length motion capture movie all these years Avatar came on 2009, if you take Indian budget is more that Rs 2000 crores. After 15 years from India if someone attempted he comes and barks like dog. And budget is 125 crores. We are not there in terms of technology at par with Hollywood. But a journey of thousand miles begins with the single step and this step is the singe step. Understand that else get lost.

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