Red Giant Movies' and RS Infotainment's latest, Ko (King), directed by K V Anand, who gave the 2009 blockbuster, Ayan, manages to satisfy most of the criteria of a summer entertainer; there's a little bit of action, humour, political gymnastics, treason, betrayal, angst and the mandatory romance to satisfy audiences. And for what it's worth, it takes you along on a spicy ride.
Like Ayan, this movie too, features the writer duo Suba, who've come up with the screenplay in conjunction with the director, as well the dialogues. And to give credit where it's due, much of it sparkles with wit, humour and targets today's issues straight on the head.
Interestingly, the protagonist Ashwin (Jiiva) happens to be a photo journalist with the Dina Anjal Tamil daily, a different take from the usual parade of professions (director K V Anand is supposed to have drawn inspiration from his own experiences as a photo journalist, for the film).
He is literally trampled on by the heroine, Renuka Narayanan (Karthika), who ducks from his sight when he enters the office. She's the chief reporter for Dina Anjal, and has been newly transferred from Madurai. There's an instant spark between Ashwin and Renuka, notwithstanding the bubbly Saro (Piaa Bajpai), who happens to be another reporter, and has a soft spot for Ashwin. You're also introduced quickly to Dina Anjal, and into how a popular daily works.
As matters cruise along in this lighthearted fashion, peppered with tasteful duets, things begin to hot up on the other end of the spectrum. There's Alavandhan (Kota Sreenivasa Rao), leader of the opposition party, who washes his hands discretely with Dettol once he touched a baby, and tries to marry a 13-year old because his horoscope predicts a great future if he does.
And then, Ashwin runs into Vasanthan Perumal (Ajmal), a smart, self-possessed, compassionate young man with a band of followers, who are determined to do their bit for society. Vasanthan is the embodiment of all that is necessary to turns politics around but he lacks public support and finances. Ashwin, impressed with his ethics, begins to do everything he can to throw the spotlight on his newfound friend, and give him some semblance of support.
Of course, just when it seems like everything might fall into place, disaster strikes.
The role is a cake-walk for Jiiva: he's had a ball with the camera, clicking shots in almost impossible situations and making sure his trademark effervescence is present at all times. Peter Hein's stunts make sure he fights well but the drawback is that this is not really a performance-oriented role.
The same goes for the striking Karthika, yesteryear actress Radha's daughter. With her dark eyes and well-made up face, she displays a confidence in front of the camera that makes you forget she's debuting in Tamil.
Piaa does the part of the bubbly enthusiast well, while seasoned actors like Kota Sreenivasa Rao and Prakash Raj, with smaller roles, add depth. You wish they had been given more screen space. Several secondary characters, like Sona, wring a bit of laughter.
Its Ajmal, however, who happens to be the surprise package. He has got a lot of scope to perform, and makes use of the opportunity well. In fact, his role clocks in almost as many minutes as Jiiva's himself.
The production crew has almost outdone itself: Richard M Nathan's camera, after a somber outing in Angadi Theru, enters light, glitz and glamour.
Editor Anthony is the star, though: the shots flip by at amazing speed or linger as necessary, and he's shown an instinctive understanding of them which helps the story.
Harris Jeyaraj's numbers are already chartbusters but Ennamo Edho is obviously the pick of the lot. You do, however, feel that the placement of some of the numbers hamper proceedings. The background score might not be scintillating, but manages to be unobtrusive.
K V Anand's screenplay moves swiftly during the first half, courtesy the dialogues, and lags slightly in the second. Still, with its basic plot of politics, it has enough twists and turns to keep you occupied. Best of all are the light touches of sarcasm and humour that make it work. Go for it.