If a movie could be judged simply by what’s in it, just like judging a dish by its ingredients, then naveen’s moodar koodam is a delicious black comedy. there is an absurd musical number awash in neon lights. there is a caucasian who goes out to buy ganja with a t-shirt that has gandhi’s face on it. there is a character named mandodhari. there’s an impromptu boxing match in a living room. there are racy music tracks, quirky versions of bits ranging from vivaldi and tchaikovsky to bharathi’s achchamillai achchamillai and nila nila odi vaa.
is the chennai branch of dawood ibrahim operations. there is an illiterate thief who confuses “happy life” with “apple pazham” and keeps referring to his “work ethic”. and there are vivid narrated backgrounds like silent movies (with intertitles) and like cartoons. even the dog here, a Great Dane and a “fool” just as dysfunctional as the rest of the cast, as the title suggests, gets his own flashback. everything is extremely intelligent.
Reading: Moodar koodam movie review
intelligence in movies is something like a tightrope walk. there are movies that the audience feels are smart and there are movies where we feel like the filmmaker is being very smart. and with moodar koodam, we are left with the last sensation. this is a film that could have used an editor. not the movie editor, whose contributions usually kick in after filming is complete, but the book world editor, who takes a first-time author’s manuscript and tells it what works and what doesn’t and shapes the material. with a firm hand.
discard this subframe. tone down the manners, the eccentricities (which are great fun, but only up to a point). harden the narrative. keep up the momentum. lose the moralization, the speech of those who have against those who do not have. here are some editorial directives that could have benefited this well-intentioned film, which is a bit all over the place.
but if moodar koodam doesn’t quite fit, it stands apart for a couple of reasons. first of all, it’s a genuinely scripted comedy, a black comedy, if you want to be more precise, that has no problem dealing with deaths, unlike a screenwriter who puts together a series of one-liners and doing nothing else (which is what most of our comedies are these days). those backstories exist not only to entertain us with wacky techniques, but also to explain why these people did the things they did.
Why, for example, did the leader (naveen) of the four men (the others are played by Sentrayan, Rajaj, and Kuberan) who hold a family hostage end up in a children’s home? Why is one of his cohorts turning the members of this family on their heads? why the strange sympathy for the chubby boy, who is often called an idiot? these are things we learn in flashes, through these backstories.
two, there are moments that are genuinely funny. my favorite parts involve two little girls, one who falls in love with the naveen after getting slapped in the face (sounds horrible, but the genesis of this goofy one-sided romance is hilarious) and one who proves easy to bribe with food. (These two young actors are excellent.) And the little idiocies exhibited by the characters, like Sentrayan, the dumbest of the bunch, deciding to buy monkey hats instead of masks, have been lovingly detailed. (Watching naveen grit her teeth in frustration is hilarious.)
There are too many characters, but the scenes with them are cleverly staged. at one point, we see an argument framed, on one side, by a man with a ping pong paddle, and on the other, a henchman with a revolver, waiting for the ball to drop. naveen isn’t always able to translate what he seems to have in mind, but at least he has a lot in mind. his next film will be eagerly awaited.
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genre: black comedy
cast: naveen, sentrayan, rajaj and kuberan
Plot: Four losers hold a family hostage and see their plans fall apart.
Conclusion: The movie isn’t always good, but it does have some great jokes.