*ing - Dhanush, Trisha Krishnan, Anupama Parameswaran, Saranya Ponvannan, Kaali Venkat, S. A. Chandrasekhar
Many young directors these days try hard to break the conventions and cliches in Tamil movies. Those who succeed in breaking the cliches do not concentrate much on the entertainment quotient. Rarely do these directors give mass entertainers that are sans cliches. Sethupathi was one such film. Let us analyze how Kodi by R. S. Durai Senthilkumar fared. Kodi is his third association with Dhanush, the previous two of his movies were produced by Dhanush and this time around Dhanush is the lead actor and is produced by Vetrimaran's Grass Root film company.
Kodi and Anbu (Dhanush) are twins living in a village near Pollachi. Kodi is a rising young politician of the opposition party as is the dream of his mute father (Karunaas in a cameo) who sacrifices his life to give the political start for his son much to the chagrin of his wife (Saranya Ponvannan). Anbu on the other hand is a college lecturer who is innocent and a pacifist who keeps away from the politics. Rudhra (Trisha Krishnan) is a rising young politician in the ruling party. Rudhra and Kodi lock horns on political stage but are lovers behind it. Anbu takes an interest towards egg vendor Malathi (Anupama Parameswaran). Rudhra impresses the Chief Minister (Vijayakumar) and becomes the MLA candidate for the ruling party and Kodi comes to know of the scam involving his own party seniors from Malathi. The party president (S. A. Chandrasekhar) makes Kodi as the opposing MLA candidate to prevent him from leaking about the scam. As a result of their political rivalry, the lovers fight with each other. What happens in the election, who succeeds and what happens to Anbu, all forms the rest of the movie.
Durai Senthilkumar has tried to break the cliches but at the same time keeping the mass entertainment. It cannot be said that he succeeded, he almost did. Missed by that much! The thought process to keep the movie entertaining, without cliches is commendable. He stays true to the genre and does not dilute the movie with many cliches you see in regular political thrillers. There are no item songs, there are no unnecessary duets (each pair gets one though). At the same time he throws in the lively moments between Anbu and Malathi which helps in dissipating the seriousness of a political thriller. The lovers tiff between Trisha and Dhanush is also refreshing. Unlike regular lovers' quarrel, this one has a hint of maturity to it. Durai Senthilkumar builds the pace of the movie slowly but steadily. This makes for a slightly dragging first half but makes it up in the second half. Having said that and the director having taken care to avoid the cliches, totally takes a cliched route during climax. It was like working hard on a good recipe only to pour it down the drain.
Dhanush as Kodi and Anbu just effortlessly brings out the polar difference in the twins. He does it as if it is a walk in the park. Anupama Parameswaran as the clever egg vendor does what is required of the character and does well with emoting but the dialogue rendering has a bit of Malayalam accent. If only her character had more presence. S. A. Chandrasekhar gives a struggling performance. Saranya Ponvannan has done the mother's character enough number of times, she would give a good performance with one eye closed. Trisha Krishnan lands the meatiest role an actress has had in the recent times in Tamil cinema. Though she has tried hard, the performance seems way below par when you have Dhanush in sublime form opposite to her. The vigor that the dubbing artist put in the dialogues is not complemented by Trisha's acting that too for a character of a feisty politician with good oratorical capability. Especially in the Trisha introduction speech, the dubbing voice and her face expressions are totally unrelated. Kaali Venkat evokes mild laughter here and there.
Santhosh Narayanan is at his usual self in the background score for the movie. As for the songs only Ei Suzhali stands out and the others are average. Venkatesh S has handled the camera as required by not overtly showing off. Prakash Mabbu's editing is almost non-existent but it is not felt due to the steady pace of the movie. Dialogues by Durai Senthilkumar himself could have been better. There are a couple of good dialogues spread around in the movie.
Verdict: Sincere political thriller, cliched in the end
6/106, Tamil, 2016