Film: Dhoni Kabadi Kuzhu
Director: P Iyyappan
Cast: Abhilash, Leema Babu, Pugazh, Thenali
Remember Dhoni’s famous dialogue, “Experts would’ve told me to go with a lead spinner. But I had other ideas. Because to be successful, you have to be different,” with footages of the 2007 T20 world cup in the silhouette? Unfortunately, the voice which inspired a generation of youngsters seems to have misled debutant P Iyyappan, and his quest to be ‘different’ has resulted in a nightmarish crossover of kabaddi and cricket. Dhoni Kabadi Kuzhu has a waferthin storyline.
Tharani (Abhilash) and his friends are die-hard fans of Dhoni, who do nothing for a living and spend their days playing gully cricket in their local ground. One day, they discover that their playground has been sold to a local goon and the only way to reclaim it is by paying a sum of three lakh rupees within ten days. The friends set out on a mission to collect money, but they fall short of a few thousand and their last option is participating in a kabaddi match for the prize money.
Whether these cricket players win the kabaddi tournament forms the rest of the story. If this conflict were faced by the protagonist in the real world, he would’ve scouted for a new ground along with his friends and tossed the coin for his next bet match within a few hours. But this story seems to happen in a weird parallel universe, where the hero is hellbent on playing in the same ground and goes to the extent of selling his house, collecting money from the villagers, and even contesting in the counsellor election! After all that, you’d think he’d have enough money to dance to Kaasu Panam Thuttu Money, but poor Dharani still falls short.
Every now and then, the film transforms into a propaganda piece that tries really hard to glorify things like Tamil, kabaddi, jallikattu, etc. Random characters like a tea shop anna break the fourth wall and talk incessantly about Tamil Mann, Tamil Parambariyum, Tamil Kaalacharam, and Tamilarin Perumai.
The misery only increased as the film progressed and I was hit by the biggest identity and existential crisis of my life when a character said, “Kabaddi dhaan Tamilaroda adayalam, kabaddi vilaya d ravan dhaan Tamizhan.” Venkatesh’s camera keeps searching for focus throughout the film, zooming in and out, and does a better job as the antagonist of this film than an u n d e r wh e l m i n g Pugazh. For a film which talks at length about the pride of Tamil and kabaddi, Dhoni Kabadi Kuzhu ends up being a discredit to both due to its incredibly careless writing and making. Even the jersey and banners are wrongly spelt as Kabaadi instead of kabaddi. What more is there to say?