Kodi is a 2016 Tamil political thriller written and directed by R.S. Durai SenthilKumar. It starts Dhanush, Trisha, Saranya Ponnavan and Anupama Parameshwaran. The film attempts to deal with themes of political loyalty, ethics, morals, love and much more.The film is smarter than and as intelligent your average Tamil film in equal measure. For every moment of genius or moment of character development there is a moment of sheer mass movie idiocy that follows. The film is a very enjoyable especially through its opening two acts. Smart writing supported by some whirlwind performances are more than adequate to capture an audience.
The top acting honors go to Trisha here. She shoulders most of the character moments and drives the plot forward with clearly defined motivations. Those motivations aren’t left behind just for giggles here, they propel her character to some new and unexplored territory with female leads. This might be her best work after Vinnaithandi Varuvaya. She is an equal to Dhanush, both in the acting and character departments, throughout the first two acts of the film. They keep the film entertaining and keep the plot unpredictable. Dhanush, to his credit, does his job well. He is not given much to do in terms of flexing his acting muscle except for a scenes.
After all the fun, emotional and smart moments of the first 2/3 of the film, it devolves into a regular mass film. It is understandable as to why a movie would take that route. It is very clear that the movie is wrestling between being a smart political thriller and a one liner spouting masala movie. Somewhere down the line the tradeoff between the two wasn’t done to equal measure. For example, the very smart and politically savvy Trisha moves between smart and stupid easily. It’s a sore to watch as an audience sometimes.
Anupama Parameshwaran does not have much to do here. One can make the argument that her character had no need to be present in the film. She has a subplot in the grand scheme of things but as one may expect, it seems forced. The film does suffer from multiple B and C plots. If the A plot wasn’t as interesting as it is, these flaws would have been much more noticible. Saranya Ponnavan is just cast to be the mom as she is in so many other films. The movie is shot well but lacks any creative narrative techniques after its cold open. There is an argument to be made that when a director actually has some visual storytelling skills, it would help him/her to carry them throughout the film. A shout out to the poorly CG-ed snake and cheetah are in order as well. Those two moments are extremely jarring.
The film bookended by its attempt at pandering to a wider audience. In between those bookends though lies a smart film. A really smart film at that. Characters make their choices, not because the script says so, because they have strong motivations to go the wat they go and do the things they do. There is no reason to play your female lead any lesser than your male and for the most part the film succeeds in keeping this up. These positives are the reason an audience member might be left with a feeling of frustration at the third act. It is a just a clinic on how to muddle up a smart script for any number of reasons.
All in all, it is a satisfying watch and leaves the audience spellbound at multiple moments through its runtime. A few changes in plot could have made it one of the best Tamil films of the year instead of a half potboiler – half thriller.