“Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga”… A taxing narrative experiment with a handful of laughs

Posted on January 14, 2017

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Spoilers ahead…

The cleverest thing about Radhakrishnan Parthiban’s new film, Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga, is the title: It means “fill in the blanks.” The film is a narrative experiment, and it’s all blanks. We see a couple at the beginning, but we don’t see their faces – their identity is a blank. We move to Rangarajan (Partiban), a cab driver who’s described as a miser who knows five languages. Plus this: “Thoppaiya vida thimiru perisu.” So he speaks abjectly mangled English (some of which is genuinely funny) – but those other traits, what are they about? Blank.

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Rangarajan meets a rich NRI named Kevin (Shanthanu Bhagyaraj) and takes him to his very large house. Won’t Kevin wonder about the disparity between the man and this mansion? And when a woman in white (Parvathy Nair) turns up at night, with jangling anklets, singing a song, won’t he express alarm? Or worry? Or consider checking into a proper hotel? Why do we see him coolly reading a newspaper the next morning? Blank. Blank. Blank.

For a while, we are completely lost. The film – revolving mostly around three characters, who form a sort of twisted love triangle – plays like C Sathya’s disorienting tunes. Eventually, we expect the screenplay to fill in these blanks, but Parthiban expects us to do the work. (The title is literally an instruction to viewers.) Parthiban can sometimes be too clever for his own good. This is one of those times. Koditta … is too… random is the word. It’s severely disjointed. What is Thambi Ramaiah doing here? Blank. And Simran, who keeps humming a vague tune? Blank. What the hell is the deal with that tropical parrot? Blank. After a while, a surreal air settles over the film – it plays like a never-before genre, an avant-garde exercise in absurdist noir-comedy.

By the time Kevin scares the Parvathy Nair character with a Scream mask, I’d had enough. Koditta… opens with a quote from Lord Krishna, about there being a small difference between nyaya and anyaaya, and the difference is dharma. What has this got to do with anything? I drew a blank.

KEY:

  • Koditta Idangalai Nirappuga = fill in the blanks
  • Thoppaiya vida thimiru perisu.” = His arrogance is bigger than his paunch.

Copyright ©2017 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil