A dope opera

A mule kick to the ribs

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At the heart of Nelson Dilipkumar’s Kolamaavu Kokila is a drug smuggling adventure inspired by Breaking Bad and Weeds. It follows the transformation of a mild-mannered Kokila (Nayanthara) into a drug mule with an attitude. The movie frantically sets the context for her metamorphosis. She has 99 middle-class problems, and money’s at the root of every single one. Plus, her mum’s diagnosed with cancer. Those who offer to help want their pound of flesh in return.

Despite the pace, the context-setting gets repetitive. You know what’s coming. You’re ready for Kokila to transform. When the moment finally arrives, it seems about 15 minutes too late. Because the movie’s structure is that of a comedy caper, not a nail-biting thriller. Several scenes are just vessels for moments of unexpected levity that may happen later. At times, it’s hard to see the point in waiting.

However, Nayanthara’s performance keeps you invested. Some of her interactions with hard-asses are unexpectedly organic. You may think she’s heading in one direction, and then you’re pleasantly surprised when she doesn’t. RS Shivaji, who plays her father, continues to be great at playing a downbeat old man. Saranya plays her mom because Kollywood has no idea what else to do with amazing actresses above the age of 40.  But Saranya’s still amazing, so her character ends up as one of the movie’s highlights.

Kollywood’s also clueless about what to do with Yogi Babu, despite a breakout performance in Aandavan Kattalai. Once again, he’s a punching bag for body-shaming jokes. In the past, you may have felt bad for Senthil when Goundamani made fun of his weight issues, but that didn’t stop you from laughing at him. Because Senthil seemed genuinely appalled. Here, Yogi Babu’s character appears to be in on the joke. So, you’re laughing with him. It’s oddly more offensive because his only response to the “HAHA you are fat” punchline is “HAHA so fat, right?”.

In Kolamaavu Kokila, he overstays his welcome, as do Anbu Thaasan and Motta Rajendran for similar reasons.

Thankfully, Kokila doesn’t test your patience. How could she? Walter Whitman had 4 years to transform. She has less than two hours.

Watch on Zee5

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