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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  1. Mayan

    Yu mother fucker,,, gone to hell yu son of a bitch bustard, Try to appreciate fr d effort yu mother fucker,,

  2. soorya

    Oh buddy,
    Don’t take Films so seriously… learn to let go… its killing ur health..
    i understand ur frustration of not becoming like Rajni sir.. well u r alwz free to start being a conductor on a Karnataka bus.. let see.. how Long U can go…!!!

  3. Krishna

    Raja barking at the sun…lol

    Indians are not going to evolve – they dig their own graves as they can’t tolerate each other..should be prepared for another invasion by a country (that’s is united)

  4. Venkatakrishna

    Great effort using ‘performance capture’ to create a movie that looked like it was made during 1990. I have no problems with the puppet walk, Zombie expressions, jiggly hands, flat textures and Deepika’s ugly grin as long as Rajini is the movie, but ticket rates match that of Avatar movie!! Go figure!

  5. sai sandeep

    Have u seen this film #kochadaiiyaan – #rediff ..that’s why ur website in that stage #sencity don’t follow these false reviews.u too became rediff

  6. CM

    only a garbage woudl be rajni fan – it suits such filth to watch crap. Anyway, its a flop, the financiers would chase soundarya sooner. Fraud fans bastard rubbish wont sell.

  7. John Mitchel

    utmost disastrous film. I slept… I wonder how the censor board agrees to such kind of crappy movies, the censor board should ban movies like these so that the viewers are not tortured. All the characters look like blind people, their eyes did not move at all… such is the shitty quality of the animation. Truly disappointed

  8. Shashi

    A good movie and a very strong script! Cant compare the animation to Avatar but still very nice! This is the first step towards immortalizing Rajinkanth! Exciting!

  9. Techlady

    This review is the sick output of a deeply sick mind…do us a favour and keep the garbage locked up plzz.

    The movie was a bold and good attempt plus great entertainment .Period.

  10. nithya

    its worth of CHOTTA BHEEM in POGO channel

  11. sriram

    is there any one to spend 600crores to take an animation movie like avatar, even avatar animation was created in Bangalore Studio, we are not lagging in technology but no is ready to spend for indian movies. even james camerron spent nearly 10 years to create avatar. really a good movie and good attempt by Ishwarya Aswin. Hats off to all worked for this project.

  12. Aravindhan

    Guys, Before you even ask I am for sure, A Thalaivar Rajini fan. I am not here to blindly say that Kochadaiyaan is the best of them all, But i am just going to draw a line on how we should compare things.

    My Findings on why Kochadaiyaan must not be compared with either Avatar or Tin Tin

    Soundarya (1st Lady director for a full fledged motion capture film)
    (200 Technicians)
    Took 2 years with a budget of 125 crores

    James Cameron
    (1000+ Technicians)
    Took 5 years with a budget of 3,000 crores

    Tin Tin
    Steven Spielberg
    (1000+ Technicians)
    Took 5 years with a budget of 4,000 crores

    Whatsay folks? Am i even making the slightest sense?

  13. Raja

    Rajasen- it doesnt worth to post a review but they are too many negative comments towards your review. First of all, this is not an animation movie. Its a film based on motion capture. This is just a beginning and its going to evolve in a big time as its going to bring more miracles to our film industry. Before posting any stupid reviews, do educate yourself

  14. alicearyin B

    Raja Sen used to review foreign pron star movies,skin flicks and Chennai express type movies.. he cant digest quality family movies…

  15. srikamal

    The reviewer might have given the 1 star rating first then wrote the review i guess !
    Is animation the only aspect of the movie? What about direction, music, story, dialogue, etc. Not stars for them? I heard the songs; i like them a lot, they are awesome. The songs have already set records. But the reviewer said music was composed while napping. Totally arrogant to disrespect someone’s work like this.

  16. Tamilan

    I am so much pitty to raja sen. he doesnt have good mental health but still he wants to review the film. we will pray for that bloody idiotic to recover soon. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO GIVE REVIEW ABOUT THIS FILM. GO TO BOLLYWOOD AND S**K THIER *****

  17. karthik

    anyone can simply say this film is not good and comment easily, but think for while how much effort they have done to release this film, Be proud asan Indian that First cinema tried in animation capture, instead of wastely commenting bad

  18. kar

    Atleast appreciate them to did first time in india,Except rajini no other hero cant think about this kind of project..always appreciating the hollywood and never try to appreciate our people trying for some thing big…Really it is good try and they done well…i accept this try got succed because of rajini.

  19. middle man

    ohh myy goddd……..u gave 1 star???? Did you really watch this movie? …It seems that all the way in your review you were only concentrating on the graphics and not in the story …..

  20. Dibby

    New effort inINdian Cinema history..but could be done more better. Movement like robots..feel like watching the latest Ramayana animation movie.
    Nice to see younger Rajni but his fast movement do not captured as fast as his…Nagesh return is awesome.
    May be I highly expected up to Avatar standard type of animation and motion…but really disappointed.

    We do no need to discourage or condemn their effort…Indian Cinema need to be brought to the next era/generation..encourage them..better result guranteed.

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