Synopsis: A young politician finds himself in a position where he has to contest against his girlfriend, who is ambitious. Circumstances force his look-alike twin to also get involved in this political battle.
Review: The second half of Velaiilla Pattadhari was certainly underwhelming when compared to the first half, but it also proved to be a showcase for Dhanush, the mass hero. And it is in this mode that we find the actor throughout Kodi, an unabashed star vehicle that surprisingly punches above its weight. The best thing about it is that director Durai Senthilkumar doesn’t compromise in the script to make us feel look at his hero in awe. The film has a solid plot that is deftly narrated with superb twists and turns, and hardly any distractions.
For Kodi (Dhanush), politics has been a part of his life ever since his birth. His father (Karunaas, in a cameo), a low-rung party worker, brings him up to become a politician, before setting himself on fire, protesting against a factory who toxic mercury waste has ruined lives in the locality. Kodi’s look-alike twin, Anbu (Dhanush), is a contrast to his rough-and-tough brother. He is a college lecturer and a pacifist. Kodi is the secretary of his party’s youth wing, and his girlfriend Rudra (Trisha), who belongs to the rival party and has been in politics since childhood like him, is appointed as the candidate for an upcoming bye-election. Meanwhile, Kodi comes in possession of documents relating to the factory that could ruin his party’s chances in the election, and to keep him silent, his party leadership announces him as their candidate. To what lengths will these lovers go to win, and how does Anbu get into the mix?
Kodi shows how a good actor can make a film rise above its genre. Dhanush’s performance here, subtly delineating the two roles, is a delight to watch. He shines in the mass hero moments as well as the dramatic ones. The character of Rudra, a young, ruthless, ambitious politician is a breath of fresh air, but Trisha is miscast. We don’t buy into her cunning because the actress is not able to bring that out convincingly. It is especially glaring when compared to Dhanush’s pitch-perfect performance. Also, the character’s motivations aren’t as strong as Kodi’s. But the gripping plot and the way the supporting characters are detailed in swift strokes, and the perfectly cast actors (from SA Chandrasekaran to Kaali Venkat) ensure that this doesn’t become a major problem.
The real surprise in Kodi is how the director manages to makes this plot feel gritty within the boundaries of commercial cinema. The pre-interval stretch invokes comparisons with similar moments from Madras and Jigarthanda. At times, the film feels relentless, and this is where the lighter romantic track between Anbu and Malathi (Anupama) helps, as it nicely balances the heavier political drama. But even this gets pushed to the background in the second half, with the actual plot given the focus, and this single-mindedness turns out to be one of its strength. Perhaps Senthilkumar could have avoided the cliché of one man taking on numerous men in the climax, but even here, there is a surprise to make sure that we leave the theatre with satisfaction.