Ko(2011) – The Kingmaker of Tamil Nadu


By T S Sudhir

Associate Editors working in newspapers and TV channels wouldn’t have been amused watching `Ko’ in Tamil (dubbed as `Rangam’ in Telugu). Who would want the fancy designation to be repeatedly called an `ass’ and made the butt of jokes?!

Directed by K. V. Anand
Starring: Jeeva, Ajmal Ameer, Karthika Nair, Piaa Bajpai

But this is only one exception. Most of `Ko’ celebrates and glamorises those who wield the camera and the pen, or rather, the key board, in this technology-driven era. K V Anand draws liberally from his own real-life experience as a photojournalist with a national magazine and puts the news photographer as the protagonist in the midst of a Tamilnadu going to elections.

Sounds timely? Oh yes. And the voters throw out the muscle power-ful chief minister Prakash Raj but don’t replace him with the superstitious opposition leader Kota Srinivasa Rao but with Ajmal Ameer, a new face in Tamilnadu politics. But the dripping with I-am-too-good-to-be-true expression on Ajmal’s face for three-fourth of the film is too much of a giveaway as the twist in the tale predictably exposes him as a bigger devil than Raj and Rao.

Jiiva and his camera, his weapon against the evil world, dominate the film. I do not recall too many scenes in which he is not present. His omnipresence, aided by so-so camerawork but smart editing (Anthony, who else), positions the Tamil newspaper `Dina Anjal’ right in the centre of the political duel.

`Ko’ is as much a commentary on bad and good politics as much as on the working of a journalist. Thankfully, Anand’s experience as one, ensures the working of a newspaper office is reasonably close to real life, and not inhabited by the stereotype jholakurta types. Of course, at the end of the day, the cause for cheer in the newspaper office is when they top the circulation figures. Ouch. Now the critics will slam the media for being obsessed only with circulation figures and TRPs.

Anand does not miss an opportunity to show what the non-journalist common man (a naxal in this case) thinks of the media when he says : “You will get a story even out of a dead body.” Perhaps that is why they say the journalists in India are long dead. What we have today are camera mike-wielding stenographers and the more evolved ones end up looking like vultures swooping down on easy meat.

The victory of good over evil in `Ko’ may be simplistic, unreal. But in a world bombarding you with cynicism that tears the soul out of institutions, the optimistic way forward as shown in the film, is reason for hope. We perhaps badly need props like that so we begin to believe that change is possible.  And to its credit, the film manages to be entertaining and engaging.

Jiiva is shown to be both clever and gullible in parts and how he is shocked what he learns when the mukhota is off the new CM Ajmal Ameer. But interestingly, he lets the veneer of goodness to go with Ajmal to his grave. The hope for change continues with his other innocent colleagues.

A long movie at 2 hours 46 minutes, Anand manages to hold your interest for most part. The songs are an unnecessary intrusion and the casting of Karthika doesn’t work at all. But like `Ayan’, Anand’s earlier film, `Ko’ tells the story well. A friend of mine, an authority on films from Kodambakkam, describes him as a poor man’s Shankar. I would disagree. Anand’s films have far more shades of grey than Shankar’s who tends to convert his films into a series of pretty frames. And if you got to compare, `Ko’, as a story is certainly more engaging than Shankar’s `Mudhalvan’, whose Utopian streak borders on the laughable.

But as I left the theatre, I had a though. What if K V Anand had not told us the entire truth about Jiiva’s character? Are we sure he did not know the true colours of his friend Ajmal before? And if he did and didn’t reveal in `Ko’, it would make for a fascinating sequel to `Ko’ where a scheming Jiiva could take the cocktail of media and politics to the next despicable level.

(T S Sudhir is the Executive Editor of www.thesouthreports.com)

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