Review Kochadaiiyaan: Rajinikanth flipping cigarettes is much more fun

In the normal course of things, that would be a double bonus. Because just one Rajinikanth can go faster than the speed of light. Because he can split an atom faster than a particle. Because he… you get the point. But even Rajini, the one and the only, can’t pick up a film and run with it, if it has the oldest , creakiest plots cobbled together from many books.

Kochadaiiyaan tells the story of an ancient warrior, a couple of warring kingdoms, crafty kings and beautiful princesses. And valour and friendship and patriotism. But this raja aur rani ki kahani is so deafeningly creaky that it overcomes the loudest background music my ears have been assailed by in a while. And the outcome is so spectacularly dull that it overwhelms the most technologically advanced cinematography witnessed in Indian cinema.

Motion capture technology is a thing to behold. It makes animation as life-like as possible. We’ve seen the results in the jaw-dropping Avatar helmed by James Cameron, and in Steven Spielberg’s Tintin: it can even make the dark 3D glasses bearable. But the best tech specs in the world can’t rescue a sinking story.

And that’s what besets Kochadaiiyaan from the outset. Rannvijay Rana (Rajini) is the fearless senapati of Kalingapuri, ruled by Raja Mahendra (Jackie). Faraway Kottaipattinam, their bitterest enemy, becomes the next target for Rana. There rules King Rishikodgan (Nasser), whose past conceals dark secrets that have something to do with Rana’s father, Kochadaiayaan (also Rajini), his other son and his family.

Rana’s “conquest” of his enemies is a ruse, and leads to other things, including a re-union with childhood sweetheart Princess Vadhana (Deepika). Meanwhile, intrigue is afoot, and involves jealous princes, and love-lorn rajkumaris, and interminable songs and dances. There’s one sequence in which Rajini does the taandav which perks things up a bit, and then we are back to thundering hooves and arrows flying and people dying. There’s no sense of narrative, no developing arcs, just a string of set-pieces interspersed with tiresome comedy and done-to-death melodrama.

After a point, it all becomes too much sound and fury and not much else. One Rajini flipping cigarettes right here, right now is much more fun than two Rajinis flinging swords in neverland.

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