Cast: Rajkumar, Srijitha Ghosh, Urvashi, Nagendra Prasad
Director: Venky AL
A group of dancers practice in a warehouse in their residential area. They are a self-taught group of dancers, for whom dancing is a passion. Due to a series of unfortunate situations, this warehouse comes under the hammer and the gang is left with precious little time to pool in the cash to retrieve it. They join a dance competition that offers enough prize money to buy their warehouse back. Along the way, the 'villain' dance group poaches their best dancers, tries to sabotage their dance group etc.
Do they win (Duh!) overcoming all these obstacles forms the rest of the story.
This was Step Up 3. This is also Koothan.
Replace the warehouse with an entire residential colony filled with both present and washed out junior artists and backup dancers, you have AL Venky's directorial debut.
To be honest, the common storyline isn't the film's biggest problem. All dance films do have a common template (A big shout out to choreographer-turned-director Remo's films). However, it is the amateurish filmmaking, some bizarre editing and surprisingly sub-standard dancing that proves to be Koothan's undoing.
Talking about filmmaking, it is understandable that Koothan is in effect, a showreel of sorts for Rajkumar to prove he is a find for the future. But, it doesn't make sense that in one of the rounds of the Asian Dance Championship (ADC), the Battery Boys (They are called so because they are always charged up. Go figure!) walk on to the stage, the music begins and then we are transported to a lush green field where the hero is dancing for a folk number along with a group of back-dancers. Once the song gets over, we are brought back to the dance stage and see judges giving them a standing ovation. Why couldn't the director have respected the Battery Boys and shown them performing on stage? If this is the way you treat this 'serious' dance competition, how can one expect the audience to be invested in this journey?
In one of the earlier local dance-offs, you see Raana and the Battery Boys that also includes a girl Dimple (Sonal Singh) completely dance out of sync. They come third. The heroine Srilakshmi (Srijitha Ghosh), whose dance too is inconsistent, comes second. At least, the antagonist Krishna (Nagendra Prasad) and his dance academy, who come first, justify their win by accepting that it was money and influence that played a part. And yeah, the heroine and her sister Devi (Kira Narayanan) hate Krishna.
The director tries to emphasise the importance for this hatred by using a quick-cut, fast-forwarded, blurry take on the events in at least three places in the first half before settling down 70 minutes into the film to give us the reason in actual time. This revelation scene is clearly an important one, but I was more invested in Srilakshmi's jhumka. The right earring had one less pearl than the left. I'm not sure if I could be blamed for my lack of concentration on the happenings on screen, when Koothan - a film seemingly about the struggles of junior artists and backup dancers - just moves from one scene to another with no particular interest about these artists.
The film is filled with unnecessary asides including a tasteless marital rape joke involving K Bhagyaraj and a love triangle that is solely conjured up for bringing the 'Oh-I-have-two-girls-in-love-with-me' song for the hero.
However, it isn't all bleak in Koothan. The film does have its moments. Urvashi, who plays Raana's mother Kalaiyarasi, is part of a comedy sidetrack where her humour works in most places. Among dancers, Devi is impressive and so is the heroine's friend Apoorva (Ashmini Balakrishnan) who looks at ease on screen. The music by Balz G is functional, and Nagendra is allowed to portray a different dimension to his acting skills. Kira as Devi delivers a consistent performance, but is relegated to hero glorification by saying dialogues like, 'Neenga bharatham kathukanum, unga kitta layam irukku, nalla rhythm sense irukku'.
In the final showdown that sees Raana have a dance-off with Krishna, the hero is shown only in close-up shots. The filmmaker resorts to focussing on his legs while he is dancing and uses wide-angle shots for the complicated dance moves where it gets difficult to say for sure if it is Raana who is really dancing. Not sure if Koothan was the big launch Rajkumar and his fan club had in mind(Yeah, he has one, even before the film's release)
Using the backdrop of junior artists, Koothan could have been made out of the mould of films like Kodambakkam or even Azhagiya Theeye, but by opting to go for the Step Up route, Koothan falters one step at a time, and ends up as a bumbling wreck and a poor excuse for a launchpad.