Notion Capture Technology

Last week when the rest of the country was probably pointlessly busy thinking about the impending elections and the choices that are on offer, we in Tamil Nadu, who are generally more intellectual and evolved in our choices, were concerned with the practical and pressing issue of the day, which is the seeming poor quality of animation in the trailer of Kochadaiiyan.

Just in case you have been living where the Malaysian Airlines flight seems to have disappeared to, Kochadaiiyan is an animation film starring Rajnikanth, and its audio and a promotional trailer were launched at a gala event in Chennai last Sunday with the highlight of the show being the airing of the songs of Chennai Express.

Seriously, the now famous Lungi Dance song was the one that was heard the loudest at the event. Of course, that was to welcome Sharukh Khan, who was the chief guest of sorts to the function. The Lungi Dance song itself was an extremely thoughtful tribute to Rajnikanth and Tamilians that Sharukh paid in his film Chennai Express. And just in case Sharukh Khan is reading this, we Tamils in all solemnity would take this opportunity to thank you and the film’s director Rohit Shetty for providing us an emotional encomium through the unsung lungi, which we have to accept is indeed an extremely popular men’s attire in Tamil Nadu worn by guys from Kerala. (Tamils, for the record, have moved on to the more traditional outfit, boxer shorts, which we wear everywhere including to funerals).

Getting back to Kochadaiiyan trailer, soon after its release there were frenzied responses on social media platforms. Which in itself was nothing alarming because on social media forums most reactions tend to be aggressive and agitated including to the dawn of a new day. The primary two grouses against Kochadaiiyan trailer were: 1) It is tacky and amateurish, exactly like they were created by the CG technicians out of work after Dasavatharam 2) Why did Rajni, nay Thalaivar, choose to act in an animation movie, especially when his regular movies in themselves are basically cartoonish?

OK, they didn’t word the last one the way I have. That would be blasphemy. For, you don’t watch a Rajni movie for movie experience. You watch it for Rajni experience. (You, arty types, no need to get all snarky here because it is not uncommon for you to go to a restaurant — a place where normal people go for eating — for its décor).

The thing is images of Rajni, animated in Kochadaiiyan through Motion Capture Technology, did not impress his continent of fans, who felt that he looked like someone with Rajni’s face and Vaiyapuri’s body. (Those of you wondering who this Vaiyapuri is, well he is a passable Tamil film comedian who plays cameos in sentences in which humour writers are trying to infuse a sense of joke).

But what is this motion capture technology? Allow me to explain: Standard cartoon films have images that have to be sketched, and howsoever impressive and remarkable they may be, when you watch them, your wife is bound to ask: ‘Why are you watching kids’ programme? Next is what, Teletubbies?’

Regular movies, on the other hand, do not have the scope for the fantastic leap of imagination that is possible through animation movies. For example, when you watch Kung Fu Panda, jumping across buildings, decimate Tai Lung it looks fun. But when, say, Ajith pummels the baddies you feel cheated, even though you have no business to because Ajith actually sweats it out for such scenes and he has a bigger paunch than Kung Fu Panda’s.

Enter: motion capture technology, which smartly fuses animation technology on regular actors and actress, and gives you the satisfaction of watching sensational stunts and complex sequences of your favourite actors and actresses when drawn by an extremely unimaginative cartoonist.

But even without the problems of motion capture technology, Rajni movies have become a challenge for their makers. What remains for Rajni to accomplish on screen? I mean no villain can be villainous enough for him any more. It has reached that stage where you needed several Rajnis to take on one Rajni. Seriously, this was the plot of his last film Endhiran.

And there is no shrew left for him to tame. How impressively he has chastened them all. In Mannan, he tamed Vijayshanthi by marrying her. In Padayappa, he tamed Ramya Krishnan by — why not? — marrying her friend. In Mappilai, he tamed Sri Vidhya — and this is the best — by marrying her daughter. In Kochadaiiyan, if it is that type of story, he may tame Deepika by, I don’t know, shrugging out of his motion capture technology figure in the film.

Anyway, as we wind up, I know what you are thinking. You are wondering that this being a piece on Rajni movie, where is that all-important political message, especially in this season of election. Well, here it is and it is to all political parties: Forget freebies. Forget everything. Just promise this: ‘We assure to improve the CG in Kochadaiiyan’.

I can’t see this manifesto failing in Tamil Nadu.

PS: But Congress, don’t even bother trying in TN.  Your case will be too much even for Rajnikanth.