Why was this film made? This question has been bugging us since we finished watching “Cobra”, a Tamil language action drama delivered as a thriller directed by R. Ajay Gnanamuthu, who had given us the very successful “Imaikkaa Nodigal.” The story of “Cobra” and screenplay are so convoluted and ridiculous, just like the snake wrapping itself around a tree with no signs of an ending. The film was released on the big screen on August 31st, 2022 and has been available for streaming on Sony LIV since September 28th, 2022.
What Happens In The ‘Cobra’ Film?
A mathematical genius who lives with his girlfriend, Bhavana Menon, is a beloved teacher for all the underprivileged kids living around his home, who has adopted one of the boys as well. Bhavana, a math professor, is keen on getting married to him, but he keeps postponing it. The film begins with Rajiv Rishi (Roshan Mathew), a megalomaniac businessman who kills a Tamil-speaking Orissa CM for not allowing him to conduct business in his state. Investigation showed the CM was killed by a skilled hired shooter. In the same way, the Prince of Scotland is killed during his wedding ceremony (and you thought Joffery Baratheon had it coming) by a hired shooter impersonating a high priest of the church who ran off before getting caught. The hired shooter is actually Mathi (Vikram), who is living a double life as a math genius/teacher who uses his mathematical skills to formulate plans to assassinate world-renowned personalities. He receives his assignments through sudoku placed inside a newspaper formulated by a reporter just for Mathi. Interpol is on him. They get in touch with a PhD student who concludes that all the assassinations were planned to use mathematical formulas. Aslan Yilmaz, a Tamil-speaking Turkish Interpol officer, lands in Chennai to investigate the case. They have reached the conclusion that the assassin is an Indian Tamilian.
During one of his missions, Mathi’s plans are foiled by a hacker who informs Aslan and the Russian forces of who the next target is. Mathi initially thinks his plan failed but uses another method to assassinate the said Russian army officer as assigned by Rajiv Rishi. Soon after returning from Russia, Mathi goes through various spells of breakdown and is soon diagnosed with schizophrenia. To his shock, he realizes people talking to him and guiding him are his hallucinations (a good twist). The same hacker keeps sabotaging Mathi and his plans, and Mathi’s quest to find the man behind the joker’s face forms the plot of the film. A subplot of Mathi’s childhood has his mother being hanged for killing a cop, and he has his childhood version talking back to him and guiding him to be a better person, which is why he decides to marry Bhavana Menon.
‘Cobra’ Ending Explained: Who Is Mathi, And Who Is Kathir?
Halfway through, the reporter who assigns missions to Mathi through Sudoku is kidnapped by the joker, and soon Mathi comes to know that the kidnapper is none other than his twin brother Mathi (also known as Vikram). Through an elaborate flashback sequence, it is revealed that Mathi is actually Kathir. Kathir is a math prodigy, who killed a police officer for disrespecting his mother’s dead body. To avoid heading to a juvenile home, he formulated a plan with Mathi to live life as Mathi every day, and since they are twins, no one will recognize who is who. Mathi, on the other hand, is a computer genius. Later in college he falls in love with the commissioner’s daughter, Jennifer Rosario. Kathir is also against the match and manages to threaten his brother. In a supposed accident, Jennifer dies while Mathi survives with severe injuries. Mathi seeks revenge because he believes Kathir is responsible for her death. He formulates an elaborate plan by informing Interpol to get to Mathi. Amidst the investigation by the CBI, who are in cahoots with Rajiv Rishi, Kathir reveals his brother is the assassin and not him, though Aslan still treats Kathir as a prime witness and suspect. After a tense confrontation with Rajiv Rishi and other CBI officials, Kathir reveals to Mathi that it was Jennifer’s family who was responsible for her death and not him, and he reveals he has been living this life forever, surrounded by hallucinations that guide him. A horrified Mathi feels sympathetic for his brother. Kathir apologizes and goes ahead to confront Rajiv Rishi, who, in a gun shooting spree, kills Kathir, and also gets killed by him. Mathi looks on as he sees his brother being shot.
“Cobra” on paper and screen is a no-brainer that tries to take itself too seriously, but the way this film is made, it is hard to take it seriously. The over-the-top drama, the drawn-out action sequences, the writer and director being in awe of Vikram’s transformation skills (which were forgotten after the first half), and the emphasis on it are too much to take. What bothers us as an audience is seeing Vikram fall for a woman half his age. After watching him carry off a mature role as Aditya Karikalan, it is disappointing to see him romance with women half his age in “Cobra”. No doubt, Vikram is a good actor and a style icon, but his acting chops require better scripts to showcase his immense talent. He is an award-winning national actor, for heaven’s sake. Vikram as Mathi and Kathir is excellent, especially in the interrogation scene, while in his mind, he is dealing with his hallucinations. Reminded us of Anniyan.
The music by AR Rahman did not stand out, and the same goes for the background score. Another major flaw in the film is that all non-Tamil characters in “Cobra” speak Tamil. This is possible only in a parallel universe. Those scenes come off as lazy where white men and women speak Tamil, and people from the Bengali-speaking belt of West Bengal speak Tamil. If only the director had spent time subtitling other languages and not dubbing the film wouldn’t have been so tedious to watch. It was a bad move by the makers which made the film highly unbearable after a point. We didn’t understand the reason behind casting Irfan Pathan as the Interpol officer. He obviously cannot act, and this further brings down the energy of the film. We can’t seem to understand why the director and other writers, Neelan K. Sekar, Kanna Sreevasthan, Azharuddin Alauddin, Innasi Pandiyan, and Bharat Krishnamachar, spend so much time establishing this film as a larger-than-life story of an assassin. They don’t even explain why this film is called “Cobra” or who this “Cobra” is. As if one Vikram wasn’t enough, the writers introduce two Vikrams to pander the audience. Another sign of lazy writing and direction. The writer, though, talks about mental health issues, which is commendable. The writers are inspired by The Beautiful Mind, Prestige, and Shankar’s Anniyan.
All in all, “Cobra” is an awful no-brainer with an unnecessarily complicated, overly dramatic script which is overtly stylized by the writers and director. The screenplay is stretched, and in a lot of places, it does not make sense why those scenes were even a part of the film. 3 hours and 3 mins are too much for an audience to sit patiently. Plugging in dance and song sequences in a film that is supposedly about action and thrillers is a waste of time. The direction by R. Ajay Gnanamuthu is decent, and so is the performance of Vikram, who doesn’t deliver one false note. He is the saving grace of the film. But his grandeur and hero worship does not serve any purpose after a while. The director spent a lot of time on Vikram’s clothing. If only they had spent that time on developing a concise script! Roshan Mathew as Rajiv Rishi was perfectly cast, and I’m sure he took up this role just for the kick of it. “Cobra” is not recommended unless you like highly stylized action films that just don’t make any sense.
“Cobra” is streaming on SonyLIV with subtitles.