Monday September 9, 2013

10 observations on Kochadaiiyaan teaser

Posted by Karthik


The much-awaited teaser for Rajnikanth’s latest film, Kochadaiiyaan is out.

Here are 10 observations from my side, to kickstart the debate around it.

1. There is special effects in a live action film and then there is animation. The quality of animation, going by this teaser, is massively disappointing. It is no different from the myriad B-grade animation (cartoon, as we call them in common parlance) films that India churns out year after year and which find their way into one or more kids’ channels a week or two after release.

2. The more the film’s makers invoke Polar Express, Tintin and Avatar to set an introduction to motion capture technology during PR efforts, the deeper they’re pushing themselves into a hole. The comparison with those films could weigh this film down more than what it is already withstanding in terms of weight of expectations.

3. Shankar was far cleverer in his approach to Rajini 2.0. He understood that the man is old (in Rajini years, not human… anyway) and cannot perform impressive stunts to keep up with the Rajini myth. So, Shankar wove a story where he could remove action director Peter Hein’s head and add Rajini’s in it, in Endhiran. That worked perfectly well because the overall package allowed for it to work.

4. If I’m still banking on Kochadaiiyaan, it is only because of one man – KS Ravikumar, who has penned the film’s story and screenplay. He is known to be a commercially savvy director who supposedly knows his way around a masala potboiler and has proven it more than once in the past. I (or we) have no prior knowledge of how good/bad Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin is, so, honestly, there is nothing to look forward to in this film, from her perspective.

5. KS Ravikumar’s role is to provide a package into which you thrust an animated film, whether it looks good or not. The story and script is what will make people sit through this film, or any film. Rajini was present in Baba, Kuselan and other crappy films too. The plots were pointless (at least in the Tamil version of Kuselan, where the Malayalam original was far more simplistic and earthy) and people rejected it despite the hype. The plot is the reason why people also lapped up Polar Express or Tintin. Avatar was a different case altogether, however, where plot was one part of the overall effort to collectively blow our minds off… and that worked.

6. I do hear the argument, ‘but it’s unfair to judge it with just a teaser!’. But here’s the deal – if the makers and fans are completely ok with the world praising it with ‘just a teaser’, why is the reverse not acceptable too?

7. The other frequently used argument is, ‘For Indian standards, this is amazing!’. If India was a closed economy with no Hollywood film releasing in India, this argument will be valid. Not anymore. Now the comparison is with global standards – we’re perhaps lowering our own standard to convenient levels with this ‘Indian standards’ argument.

8. A related point is, ‘Indian budgets and audience numbers/returns do not allow us to do something of global standards’. These are 2 different things – one is comparison of quality of animation. It is either world standard, or it is not. Two, the monetary aspect of feasilibity of making one in global standard. I do agree with this one, but does that justify doing something substandard and fall back on monetary debate to justify ‘this is what we could do’?

9. I completely appreciate and agree with Soundarya for the thought that the only way to keep the Rajini myth alive is to animate him, to compensate for his human frailties brought on by ageing. That’s a smart move. I just don’t see that move translating into a quality output just by this teaser. I hope to see a better output in the overall film.

10. There is a reason why we love big budget live action films like Transformers or Spiderman. Live action makes it more believable because the setting and backdrop is very real, while VFX merely juxtaposes select elements to help us with the ‘suspension of disbelief’ process. A great example of a well made and engaging live action big budget masala was the Telugu film Magadheera. An entirely animated film starts with a disadvantage because the entire setting is obviously and in-your-face fake/make-believe. In that case, the story needs to work harder to support the make-believe’ness of the film. We don’t know anything about the story of Kochadaiiyaan, so I can’t comment on how it’ll turn out to be. From the mere teaser, the animation looks commonplace, or like any other animated film effort from India. There is that awkward body movement, to start with. I strongly hope the overall package surprises me.

11. A bonus observation! The one thing that could have been most real about the star in the teaser was his voice! It is animation and hence fans are bound to call it a ‘cartoon’, but the teaser could have made it up with at least Rajinikanth’s voice and some dialogs! Instead, it uses background music (that sounds largely generic) alone. Big miss, this!



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