Nelson Dilipkumar’s debut dark comedy, Kolamaavu Kokila, was not as entertaining or successful as the director’s 2021 Doctor. The latter, which had some genuine laugh out loud moments, had become one of the rare box-office hits in the pandemic, bringing much-needed relief for the embattled Tamil film industry.
But the 2018 Kolamaavu Kokila, which revolves around a middle-class girl who turns into a cocaine runner, did introduce Nelson to Tamil cinema as a master of black comedy. The film had picked up rave reviews as “fun, quirky”, and the protagonist Nayanthara was praised for taking on such a role with negative shades and pulling it off without much effort (apparently she loved the off-beat role and instantly agreed to do the film).
It was enough if Nayanthara, clad in a pavadai-blouse donned a wide-eyed, innocent look and bumped off her enemies talking to them in a haltingly dulcet voice (Deepa Venkat proving her dubbing prowess again). Never mind, if she had cunningly set a trap for each one of them without anyone knowing how she did it (including the audience!).
Kolamaavu Kokila, streaming currently on Zee5, promotes women-power at its best. But, the director never goes hammer and tongs thrusting this down your throat. It just unfolds in a matter-of-course manner, as the film careens down a tumultuous road of events triggered off by Kokila’s tryst with the underworld, where she ventures to make some quick bucks to support her mother’s lung cancer treatment.
There are some startling moments when this naïve girl turns blood-thirsty and puts her foot down to insist that her underworld boss shoot down a gang member who may have ratted on her to the police. Yogi Babu steals the show with his droll humour and is a believable suitor of the beautiful Nayanthara. He will do anything for his lady love and unlike Sivakarthikeyan’s character in Doctor, who manages to win over the woman he loves with his clever mind, Yogi is let down terribly in the end by this doe-eyed, innocent heroine.
Nelson, who began his career as an assistant script-writer in Star Vijay, has moved on to direct superstars like Vijay and now Rajnikanth. His films, except for Beast, are peppered with wicked, dour humour, which is loved and lapped up by the audience. Yet, Nelson himself once said that Kolamaavu Kokila is not a black comedy but “travels across different beats including sadness, comedy, revenge etc.” The director believes his forte is entertainment, “from head to tail the film needs to be entertaining but it should also be of quality”.
The movie is in the news now with the Hindi remake Good Luck Jerry all set to land on Disney+Hotstar on June 29 as OTT’s biggest weekend release. Nelson was asked to direct the Hindi remake but he was too busy with Vijay’s Beast and had to refuse the offer. As Jhanvi Kapoor reprises Nayanthara’s role in Good Luck Jerry, one can only expect reviewers to make odious comparisons.
Jhanvi, who comes with a large-sized nepo-kid tag, debuted with Dhadak, the Hindi remake of the Marathi runaway sucess, Sairaat, and managed to hold her own. Dhadak was not a Bollywood romantic drama, which would end with parents making up for the love of their children. The film did not live up to the original but Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s daughter was praised for carrying a sense of “fragility” and possessing a “soulful quality” that makes her instantly endearing. After her debut, besides a ghost film and a biopic on Gunjan Saxena, she has, however, not made any significant mark on celluloid as yet.
So, it remains to be seen if she elevates the film to a new level or not. Jhanvi has said that Good Luck Jerry was a difficult shoot and she had “emotionally really pushed herself”. “It is edgy. It is not conventional at all. The humour is very quirky,” she had said in an interview, not saying anything exceptionally new from what we know of the film. With Bollywood films flopping terribly, the latest one going under being Ranbir Kapoor’s Shamshera, don’t hang your expectations too much on this one.
There’s another dark comedy that is on the way – an Alia Bhatt and Shefali starrer – Darlings, which will release on Netflix next month. Looks like dark comedies with women wielding the weapon seems to be the flavour. This one has a blithe gory feel as a husband (who reportedly goes missing) gets trussed up ostensibly by his own wife and beaten black and blue. This is just a glimpse one gets from the trailer.
For dog lovers, and fans of Rakshit Shetty, 777 Charlie lands on OTT platform Voot Select. The film, on the love that springs up between a loner and a lovable, frolicky Labrador, has had very good reviews. The story is about a canine Charlie, who brings purpose, humour, adventure, unconditional love to Dharma’s (Rakshit Shetty) life. Both have been scarred in different ways and are searching for salvation and love. They carry sad memories but they seem to be the happiest with each other.
Dharma takes a road trip with Charlie and the duo experience several escapades and make sweet memories before reaching their destination. The film is a must watch for ever dog lover.
In fact, Rakshit Shetty has said in a statement, “The film and my character Dharma are undeniably among the biggest highlights of my career. Every emotion portrayed while shooting for 777 Charlie was natural and came straight from the heart. It will be an experience that I will cherish for years to come. This film is a must for dog lovers.”
Besides the release of Madhavan’s directorial Rocketry on Amazon Prime, a Malayalam film, 19 (1) (a), starring Vijay Sethupathu, Nithya Menen and Indrajith Sukumaran, directly releases on Disney+Hotstar on July 29. It is supposed to be a suspense thriller with Vijay Sethupathi playing a writer. The teaser is intriguing without revealing much. The title of the film, however, is a giveaway since Article (19)(a) stands for freedom of speech and expression. Check it out.
Here’s a documentary that is creating a stir on OTT. Titled My Daughter Joined a Cult, this docu-series revolves around the shenanigans of self-proclaimed godman Swami Nithyananda. This Discovery+ original series follows the life of the controversial Nithyananda, even as it gives a voice to individuals who were at the epicenter of it all.
The three-part series captures the exposure of the self-styled godman, who allegedly deceived his believers by luring them into joining his ashram and gurukul trust Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, and then later allegedly abused them.
There’s a range of testimonies from devotees, lawyers, journalists and activists. The docu-series presents a narrative probing the reason behind his strong following despite being termed a fugitive by his ex-followers. Having lived the story themselves, the followers and ex-devotees provide an intimate perspective revealing crucial details at the same time.
The series captures a mother wailing outside an ashram to see her daughters who have been barred from meeting her, a distraught father running from pillar to post to find answers pertaining to his missing children and a disillusioned devotee grappling with demands for nude pictures from the man she held in the highest esteem. A young man questioning the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in a place meant for worship and reflection. Is this the real truth? A chilling peek into what goes on in a cult.