The Kaashmora team, in interviews, has been asking us not to compare the film with Baahubali. What a laugh. It’s not the budget that’s lacking. It’s the vision, the conviction, the ability to sell a tall story. Baahubali was a genuine epic. The only thing epic about Kaashmora is its running time: nearly three bloated hours. The film, directed by Gokul, is laughably written. Sridivya says she’s doing a thesis on occult practices, but what she ends up doing is really investigative journalism. Maybe they thought an audience whose brains are regularly ground into mush wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. She’s there only because a film where the leading man (Karthi) plays two roles is mandated, by law, to have two heroines. The Sharath Lohitashwa character needn’t have been there either. He’s there only because a film where the leading man plays two roles is mandated, by law, to have two villains.
And of course, the other villain is played by Karthi. When MGR played good and bad look-alikes in Kudiyirundha Kovil, it seemed like a function of the plot. When today’s heroes do this, it seems like a function of their desire to be Kamal Haasan, but without going all the way. Karthi shaves his head, sports a beard, and rolls his eyes as though mimicking the audience. The best portions come in a flashback, where this villain – a medieval warlord named Raj Nayak – tries to get his hands on a princess (Nayanthara). For the first time in the film, we see some ambition, some staging, some kind of proof that a cinematographer was present on the sets. Dozens of beauties fall on Raj Nayak as the camera hovers over a bed. Raj Nayak stands on a mound of slain soldiers. But the visual effects increasingly look like leftover screen shots from a Temple Run storyboard. The illusion is soon shattered.
Something tells me Gokul is a Harry Potter fan. A headless ghost. A car stranded on an ill-tempered tree. You wish he’d lifted the story wholesale too. At least, we wouldn’t have had to waste an entire first half following Kaashmora (Karthi), a fake godman who’ll soon find out that ghosts do exist. This isn’t a spoiler. This is inevitability. Otherwise, there’s no story. I kept thinking back to Selvaraghavan’s Aayirathil Oruvan. It wasn’t perfect, but there were glimpses of greatness. And it was one of a kind. Kaashmora is as generic as they come. Generic comedy. Generic strife. Generic sets that look like someone tried to make a Shankar movie with the budget of a Kanchana instalment. About the only thing I was thankful for was that there was no generic love. Neither heroine ends up with the leading man. It sounds like progress, until you realise that these films are all about the star romancing himself.
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