Sep 19 2013

Moodar Koodam

Published by at 10:42 pm under Review,Tamil Cinema


Like Soodhu Kavvum, Moodar Koodam also falls in the category of films I like to call a “light” dark comedy. The story is built around a crime but its treatment isn’t always dark or downbeat and is handled with large doses of humor. Similarly, the film’s heroes aren’t the paragons of virtue our Tamil cinema heroes usually are but are victims of circumstances and are likeable since they have their hearts in the right places. The film’s simple storyline comes in the way of it being as exhilarating as Soodhu Kavvum but the director’s vision and execution in padding the storyline ensure that it is entertaining nevertheless.

Naveen(Naveen), Vellaichamy(Rajaj), Sentrayan(Sentrayan) and Kuberan(Kuberan) are jailed for minor or no offenses and become instant friends because of the similar situation – no money, no job – they are in. Since Vellai knows that his uncle Bhakthavatsalam(Jayaprakash), a rich man, is going out of town with family for 10 days, the four of them decide to rob his house. But they land up at the house before the family has left and end up imprisoning the family members in their own house as they look for the money.

Moodar Koodam has a huge cast of characters and most of them are quite colorful in an enjoyable way. In some cases its just their behavior(like Sentrayan’s swagger or Kuberan’s naivete) and in some cases they are given quirks(like the thief’s insistence on ‘job ethics’) that make them unique without going over-the-top. With Salim Bhai, the head of the Chennai ‘branch’ of Dawood’s operation, the director shows us that he understands dark comedy well as the don’s punishments are sadistic but with a touch of humor(the way the punishment being meted out is shown is a nice touch).

With such interesting characters, Moodar Koodam has no trouble making us laugh with the clueless nature of some of them. Sentrayan is the source of most of these laughs as his dumb actions and Naveen’s frustrated response never fail to elicit chuckles. But most of the characters(like Jayaprakash’s father-in-law who picks the exact wrong moment to demand a seat)  get their moments of idiocy. But the screenplay also contributes to the laughs though one gets the feeling that the situations(like the thief who has a different agenda but ends up stuck in the bathroom) haven’t been exploited to their full potential.

The flashback is a much (ab)used plot device in Tamil films but Moodar Koodam breathes life into the device with some ingenious ways of depicting it. Several characters – and even an animal and an inanimate object – get flashbacks during the course of the movie. But the flashbacks are shown in a variety of ways including one which is shown as a silent movie – complete with title cards for dialogs – and one which is a cartoon. The segments feature some popular songs picturized and sung in surprising ways. And they fill in key blanks in the characters’ lives and explain their strange behavior(like why Sentrayan’s favorite form of punishment is making one stand on his/her head and why Kuberan lets the dirtiest cuss words slide but gets angered by a common insult) in funny and interesting ways.

As more characters enter the picture, some of them seem introduced just to pad the running time. This causes the film to slow down with some sequences, like the fight between two of the characters, not adding much. But the film does put its big cast of characters to good use towards the end as the screenplay brings many of them together in unexpected ways to bring closure to many its many tracks.

Sentrayan makes the best impression among the ensemble cast with his wide-eyed expressions and ignorant questions. Naveen, with his calm demeanor and quiet voice, provides good contrast while Rajaj and Kuberan do their roles well. Oviya, who plays Jayaprakash’s daughter, displays some subtle comic chops while the girl who plays her sister is smart and shows acting ability beyond her years. Among the supporting characters, the actors playing the thief and Salim Bhai impress with their perfect interpretation of their characters.

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