Cast : Sentrayan , Oviya
Direction : Naveen
Music : Nataraj Shankaran
Producer : Naveen
Release : Pasanga Productions
A series of unfortunate events that sees four men – ‘Juvenile Case’ Naveen, ‘Dope Peddler’ Sendraayan, ‘Runaway Orphan’ Vellachami alias White and ‘local bum’ Kuberan – find themselves inside a police station. We have a Usual Suspects-ish situation on our hands. A decent cop lets them off with 500 bucks. Over several rounds of alcohol, the four broken men share the sorrows of their life and find a degree of solace in each other’s company. With nothing more left to lose, they decide to burgle the house of White’s uncle Bakthavathsalam. With a seemingly foolproof plan set in place, the men reach their destination. But the film’s title has us believe that they are a bunch of filtered fools. So nothing can go right, right? Right. What was supposed to be an in-out robbery inadvertently turns into a hostage situation and series of revelations follow.
Moodar Koodam, directed by Naveen, is a heist gone wrong film. It starts off decently, but the narrative quickly goes to the dogs. The film shows us a backstory for most of the principal characters, where we see what brought them to this point in life. Besides heavily borrowing narrative elements from Tarantino, Naveen fails to understand why those chapters worked in the first place in films like Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. Instead of taking the story forward, the flashbacks, here, bring the narrative to a grinding halt. Every time a title card indicating a flashback for one of the characters got displayed, some at the most inopportune moments, the audience at my screening understandably let out an exasperated groan. The style became very painful after a point.
Most of the film takes place inside one room in the bungalow. With every couple of passing scenes, the number of people in the room which houses the members of the family keeps getting increased. The film introduces way too many characters who kill you with their painful quirkiness. There’s a North Madras gang, a Dawood Ibrahim gang, a Seth moneylender along half a dozen more unmemorable characters. The one supporting character which works to the film’s benefit is that of a little girl who picks up the phone when Bakthavathsalam calls his personal muscle. The film could have used more of her. I loved that kid.
The tone of violence in most Tamil films is often over the top and unrealistic. Fortunately or unfortunately, this gives those filmmakers the liberty to fill their films with lots of it, while not affecting their character’s character. But once a director is capable enough of staging realistic violence, he/she automatically becomes responsible for the actions of her characters. The violence in Moodar Koodam is affectingly real for most parts, but director Naveen uses it judiciously. Naveen and his fellow goons are unflinchingly brutal and do not discriminate between their victims, who range from helpless children to women to middle aged men. I don’t mind the violence per se. My problem is with how the film paints this despicable assortment as “heroes”. How could they expect us to root for a person who slaps a child hard across the face?
The film is completely befuddled about how it wants the viewers to see its protagonists. I don’t want to compare Soodhu Kavvum to this embarrassment, but for the want of a better analogy, I am left with no other option. I love the members of the ‘kepnapping’ gang from Soodhu Kavvum because, despite their illegal methods, they are still immensely likable. But here, these thieves glorify/fashion themselves as wronged people who are taking back what is theirs. There’s a lot of a dialogue-baazi about ‘survival of the fittest’ reeking with misplaced sense of morals. There’s some anti-establishment angst about rich keep getting richer, while the poor stay poor. Merely dropping a line about how Bakthavathsalam duped many people of their money is not enough justification to make us deem the violence necessary here. Just a single token act of charity to save a housemaid’s critically ill daughter at the end is not enough to bring about a change of heart in us.
Although the running joke about the little girl developing feelings for her captor after getting slapped is abhorrent to say the least, the kid performs well. Actually, both the kids in the family are very good. With no resolution in sight, the film drags on and on until it reaches a climax where all the players find themselves at the house. But this is not a film which is too interested in putting its lead characters in sticky situations. So there are hardly any consequences. Eventually, even blood gets spilled but the film continues to maintain its irresponsible attitude towards violence. The musical interludes are a dud as well. From using classical western music to mexican standoffs, everything about Moodar Koodam is derivative. It is such a wannabe movie that it hurts.
Verdict – Derivative, Messed up Narrative, Unimaginative.
Review : Prasanth Reddy