For the layman, who buys a ticket to entertain himself for those 2 hours, the term 'photo-realistic performance capture' may come across as Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, in India, animation films have not got the due yet.
The technology used by Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya, who helms KOCHADAIIYAAN, captures the facial expressions of the actors and attaches it to the virtual image created for the project in question [that's explained at the very commencement of the film -- a good move, in my opinion], something which James Cameron used in the path-breaking AVATAR. Of course, there's no comparing KOCHADAIIYAAN and AVATAR, since the time taken for the Hollywood project -- including the budget allocated to that film -- is beyond imagination for an Indian film-maker.
KOCHADAIIYAAN is a big leap as far as technology is considered. The question is, will KOCHADAIIYAAN change the perception of what the common man thinks of animation films in India, that it's a film for kids of all ages, from 8 to 80? Besides, will KOCHADAIIYAAN emerge as an alternate medium to woo the spectators to theatres? Most importantly, will it give a fillip to the non-existent animation film market in India?
Soundarya makes a fervent attempt to bring the technology to our shores and travel the road never travelled by any Indian film-maker thus far, but the fact of the matter is, KOCHADAIIYAAN is saddled with the usual good versus bad saga [the son of an honest senapati seeks revenge for the wrongs done to his father]. Having said that, I wish to add that the screenplay is truly absorbing for most parts, except when the songs show up. I'd like to make a special mention of the writing in the post-interval portions, when Rajinikanth narrates the reason for attacking Deepika's father [Nasser]. The entire flashback portions keep you hooked.
While it takes time to get the grasp of the technology initially, it becomes smooth sailing subsequently, mainly because the storytelling takes precedence after Soundarya introduces you to the characters. Besides, you ought to give credit to Soundarya for conceptualising and executing the project and presenting her superstar-father Rajinikath in three novel avatars [the third avatar emerges in the last sequence -- is there a sequel in the offing?]. The fact that she decided to choose an alternate medium of cinema to narrate the story gets her our mandate. Also, this one's in 3D, which only enhances the impact.
Since a film like KOCHADAIIYAAN depends heavily on post-production [I believe, a massive team in India, China, U.K. and U.S.A. has worked on it], the outcome ranges from average to good to excellent. It could've been consistent, but, let's face it, this is just the beginning.
The film, a mass entertainer to please the legion of fans of Rajinikanth, portrays the superstar in a role that does justice to his image -- a man of extraordinary abilities. And I must add, no other actor could've portrayed the archetypal superhero with such brilliance. Soundarya deserves kudos for making sure she delivers what one has come to expect from a Rajinikanth film. Additionally, right from the costumes to the armour to the overall look of the superstar, KOCHADAIIYAAN decorates the superstar luminously.
Although Deepika's character is the mandatory leading lady, she does get a couple of sequences to leave an impact. Among the supporting cast, the ones who stand out include Nasser and Jackie Shroff. Nasser especially has the meatiest part after Rajinikanth, while Jackie is competent.
KOCHADAIIYAAN also boasts of several talented names such as Shobana and Sarath Kumar. Both of them leave an impression in brief roles. Aadhi does well. Amitabh Bachchan's baritone voice at the start gives the film the right momentum.
The soundtrack by maestro A.R. Rahman is seeped in originality, but the non-popularity of songs go against them. Having said that, the powerful background score compliment the visuals on screen.
On the whole, the absorbing screenplay and the technology makes KOCHADAIIYAAN an interesting fare. For the legion of Rajinikanth fans, this film is definitely worth a watch. Recommended!