Eros International, Media One Global Entertainment and Cinemorphic’s Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend (dubbed from the Tamil film of the same name, animation) is the story of a legendary warrior, Kochadaiiyaan (Rajinikanth), who lives in Kottaipatinam and his son, Rana Ranvijay. Riku- daman, the Maharaja of Kottaipatinam (Nasser) starts feeling jealous of his trusted army commander, Kochadaiiyaan’s popularity in his kingdom. One day, when Kochadaiiyaan is returning by ship to Kottaipatinam with his army, after buying horses and ammunition, he is attacked by the army from Kalingpuri. Kochadaiiyaan allows the rival army men to return to their kingdom although he could have defeated and killed them.
Before going back, the enemy army poisons the food on the ship, after consuming which Kochadaiiyaan’s armymen fall seriously ill. To save the lives of his men, Kochadaiiyaan goes to nearby Kalingpuri with the ailing men and pleads for medical help before Maharaja Mahendra Raj (Jackie Shroff) of Kalingpuri. Instead of providing medical assistance, the evil Mahendra Raj takes away all the horses and ammunition of Kochadaiiyaan and holds back the sick army men with a promise to cure them and treat them well.
When Kochadaiiyaan returns to Kottaipatinam, Maharaja Rikudaman, jealous as he is, orders his execution, holding him guilty of letting down his armymen. Even as inhabitants of Kottaipatinam express unhappiness over Maharaja Rikudaman’s execution order, he goes ahead and has Kochadaiiyaan killed.
The film begins with Kochadaiiyaan’s younger son, little Rana Ranvijay, leaving Kottaipatinam and reaching Kalingpuri. Not revealing his identity to anybody, he trains as a warrior there and grows up to become a fearless warrior (Rajinikanth). He wins the confidence of Maharaja Mahendra Raj and tricks him into letting him take the armymen of Kottaipatinam, who were being treated as slaves by Mahendra Raj, to fight the Kottaipatinam army. Once he reaches the border, he asks the enslaved armymen, originally belonging to Kottaipatinam, to cross over to Kottaipatinam.
Maharaja Mahendra Raj and his son, Virbhadra (Aadhi), are livid at being tricked by Rana Ranvijay. Here, in Kottaipatinam, Maharaja Rikudaman is alarmed at seeing Kochadaiiyaan’s son return with the armymen his father had given to Mahendra Raj and for which he (Rikudaman) had had him killed. Rana Ranvijay revives his friendship with Rikudaman’s son, Udaybhan (Sarath Kumar), his childhood friend. He learns that his mother (Shobhana) has since died, his elder brother is missing, and his sister, Yamuna (Rukmini), is in love with Udaybhan who also loves her very much. Like a true brother, Rana gets his sister married to Udaybhan after making Maharaja Rikudaman agree to the alliance despite class difference between the two families. However, Maharaja Rikudaman, angered by having to let his son marry a girl from a family not matching his status, seeks revenge by disowning his son for having married Yamuna. Disgusted with his father, Udaybhan walks out on him, taking his newly-wed wife with him.
Rana and Maharaja Rikudaman’s daughter, Vadhana (Deepika Padukone), love each other since childhood. But before marrying Vadhana, Rana Ranvijay attempts to kill Maharaja Rikudaman as revenge for his father’s execution. However, Rikudaman escapes and locks up Rana. Vadhana learns from Rana of her father’s evil games and realises that her father had killed Kochadaiiyaan and thereby wronged Rana, his siblings and mother.
Do Rana and Vadhana marry one another? Does Rana meet his elder brother? Is Rana able to avenge his father’s murder?
K.S. Ravikumar has scripted the film in a way that it appears like a fairy tale of kings and queens and armies and battlefields. It is unlikely that except in South India, where Rajinikanth is a demi-God, the audience would be interested in watching a fairy tale unfold on the big screen, that too in animation format. Although the screenplay does not let the viewer get bored, its fairy tale-like structure does take away the believability factor. As it is, animation films have a very limited market and on top of it, the story also holds very little appeal. Comedy is dull for the Hindi-speaking audience. Dialogues are ordinary.
Rajinikanth is very good. Deepika Padukone also does well. Her dialogues have not been dubbed by her. Sarath Kumar is effective as Udaybhan. Jackie Shroff is good. Nasser does extremely well. Shobhana has her moments. Rukmini (as Yamuna), Aadhi (as Virbhadra) and the others are appropriate.
Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin has used the Performance Capture Photorealistic technology to make the animation film, a first for India. Although the effort is laudable, the film is not as polished – technically speaking – as it should’ve been. In several scenes, the animation is not upto the mark as extensions of the animated characters (behind the characters) mar the visual impact. A.R. Rahman’s music is melodious but not a single song has been popularised. Lyrics are okay. Dances are very graceful. Rajiv Menon’s camerawork is supremely good. Peter Hein’s action and stunts are excellent. Sets (by Vadivel and Chinnakgoundar) are rich. Anthony’s editing is sharp. Dubbing is nice.
On the whole, Kochadaiiyaan – The Legend does not have much for the Hindi film-going audience and will, therefore, not fare well at the box-office. However, its Tamil version has the potential to prove a big hit because of the demi-God status enjoyed by Rajinikanth among the Tamil-speaking audience and also due to the novelty factor.