Director: Ananda Krishnan
Cast: Vijay Antony, Aathmika
Kodiyil Oruvan has a great story, and had it been made in the 80s it would have been called Oru Thayin Sabhatham (a film with that title was actually made back then by T Rajender). The story begins in a village where a bunch of politicians pick a woman to contest the panchayat elections. Their idea is to get her to do what they want after she’s won, without any of her interference. Unfortunately for them, she refuses to be a puppet and they decide to kill her. And in a wonderful Baahubali-like touch, she’s saved by her infant son.
The woman says that while she couldn’t clean up her village, her son will do that by becoming an IAS officer. Vijaya Raghavan (Vijay Antony), her son, goes to the city to prepare for that. The cleverest trick of the story isn’t that the mother was a puppet at the hands of politicians in the village. It’s that corrupt politicians in the city become puppets at the hands of Vijaya Raghavan — in a reversal of his mother’s character, he becomes a puppeteer.
This is a great premise but the screenplay is a huge, garbled mess. Instead of the hero’s arc stage-by-stage, we get a bunch of good intentions through vague scenes where he takes tuitions or randomly decides to send a bunch of dropout kids to school. Or how he makes a boy stop urinating at a particular spot by asking him to plant a seed. We don’t know what exactly happens but the kid probably pees on it (the scene is cut; the censors may have decided they didn’t want it). But what happens is that the seed becomes a sapling the next day, and when the kid goes to pee at his usual spot, he sees it and realizes that he should never pee again in that place.
Instead of showing us why this boy stopped urinating at his favorite place, why not give us more scenes about why Vijaya Raghavan sometimes reins in his temper but suddenly unleashes his fury at other times, like in a typical ‘mass’ fight where you send a hundred guys flying through the air. It’s never very clear what Vijaya Raghavan feels about Aathmika’s character either — is he in love with her or is he just tolerating the fact that she’s pushing herself against him all the time? I really didn’t know what was happening there.
I’m a sucker for good-intentioned political films. Even the recent Mammootty-starrer One that people had all kinds of problems with, I had little tears forming because I was never going to see such things happen in real life — let me at least see them in the movies. When the lyrics in an early song goes like ‘kaasu panam paakkaama, jaadhimadham paakaama, ner vazhila varapporen,’ you’re like this guy is going to really rock it with cool tricks.
And one of the cool tricks is that he’s an independent candidate who doesn’t want to get sucked into the vortex of corruption of the regular political parties. Despite these good little bits of invention, the movie just doesn’t come together. I was left wishing that they had lifted a few cool tricks from Mudhalvan which remains the gold standard for wishful films in Tamil about how to clean up corruption.