Kochadaiiyaan - The Dark Knight of the Indian Animation Industry

Kochadaiiyaan - The Dark Knight of the Indian Animation Industry

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Kochadaiiyaan is definitely a good film to begin with. The story and the screenplay are definite superstar material, no second thoughts about that. The grandeur of the film and the sheer magnitude of work involved make it a near impossible feat for anyone to pull off. But technically speaking, the film has its own share of flaws.


On the plus side, the story and screenplay give enough and more food for the avid superstar fan. The three R's of the film - Rajinikanth, Ravikumar and Rahman - deserve a big guard of honor for their great job. If not for them, the movie would've definitely not been received the way it is now. The superstar literally owns the screen in his role as Kochadaiiyaan. His diction has such a royal reverberation to it, that just listening to it makes the movie stand out. KSR has definitely added all the commercial ingredients necessary to make his first animated film a mass show, and it shows in the signature dialogues, death-defying leaps on horseback and even the insertion of a sister sentiment in an animated movie.


There is no need to talk about the prowess of Rahman, and he has proved again that he can be counted upon to deliver the goods and even go the extra mile by lending his voice to the introductory narration. Really, hats off to ARR for an electrifying BGM that honestly makes it hard to watch the film in any angle other than that of a superstar fan.


Senior actors like Nasser, Jackie Shroff, Sarathkumar, Shobhana etc. have to be given a very special mention for lending great support to such novel attempts in the industry. All these actors are used to performing with co-artistes, props and sets and in full costume for several decades. To adapt to this style of costume-less, actor-less, lycra-suit-based acting is indeed a testimony to the fact that they are thespians of the trade.


I will definitely be failing if I do not put in a special word for the gentleman who has dubbed for the late Nagesh's character in the film. Hats off to you sir!

The dance and action choreography have been done very well, and kudos to the team for pulling off the battle sequences!


All this said, the film has its flip side too.


From a casting standpoint, I personally felt that Aadhi and Sarathkumar could have swapped roles. Also, from a story point, the film starts with two kids beings separated. However, the hero, throughout the film, does not seem to show the slightest emotion towards his missing twin!  Also, the pivotal sequence of the story seems disconnected. How did King Rishikodagan know beforehand what Kochadaiiyaan has done with the army when all the people of the kingdom seem shocked to see him returning alone? And didn't Raja Mahendra recognize the face of his rival general Kochadaiiyaan in Rana's face for all these years?


The 3D aspect was yet another point of concern in the film. The stereographer seems to have forgotten a few basic points. Like the audiences will "see" the depth between the character and the floor if they are not placed on it, for instance. For the most part, the film seems to have been visualized in 2D, and converted to 3D in a hurry.


The main flaw, however, is in the animation.


In animation, there are three important aspects of human body language - the conscious part, the subconscious part, and the unconscious part. The second is fueled by our environment and the third is influenced by our emotions. Quite unfortunately in this film, the attention given to the conscious part has not been given to the subconscious and unconscious parts. This is what results in eye movement, hand gestures, fingers' involuntary movement and the like. Especially since this is a performance capture film, there is a greater emphasis on the word "performance" which can only be brought out cleanly if the actors portraying the characters understand every single nuance of what they are acting out. With people like Deepika Padukone and Jackie Shroff in the cast, as people who do not understand the language to begin with, there can be almost no expectations on their characters to emote! Again, in animation, we have to be conscious of the fact that sometimes the body gesture precedes the vocalization, and sometimes it follows. These minute factors make good animation great. Otherwise, the result is what we see for a great part in Kochadaiiyaan - lifeless eyes, plastic video-game-style fingers, etc. Quite naturally, these are the most complex aspects of character animation.


At the end of the day, please lend your support to ventures like Kochadaiiyaan… because he's the hero the Indian animation industry deserves. But not the one it needs right now. And so, people will continue to criticize him... because he can take it... because he is a watchful protector - our dark knight.

Anandh Ramesh

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