Cobra: This emotional roller-coaster rides on Vikram, Rahman

The film could have been chopped by a good 20 to 30 minutes to make it crisper and one of the better thriller films of the year so far. But Cobra still manages to stay afloat.
Still from 'Cobra'
Still from 'Cobra'

Cast: Vikram, Irfan Pathan, Srinidhi Shetty, Meenakshi Govindarajan, Mirnalini Ravi, Roshan Mathew, John Vijay, Robo Shankar, Anandraj and Renuka

Director: Ajay Gnanamuthu

Music Director: AR Rahman

Synopsis: A mathematical genius uses his deftness with numbers to teach school kids and also uses them to commit murders upon instructions from his mystery. However, an expert hacker is snapping at his heels to expose the murderer and the motive

Rating: 3/5

Cobra is Chiyaan Vikram's first theatrical release in three years and his first collaboration with Ajay Gnanamuthu (the duo recently announced their second collaboration). Having been in the making for three years now, this was one of the most-anticipated films this year. We were a little put off when the censor certificate showed the film’s runtime as 183 minutes. But the film manages to shed the apprehensions right from the title card, as we see Vikram in several makeovers.

The film opens with the Interpol website being hacked on the day of the Prince of Scotland's wedding, which was to be presided over by Archbishop Augustus. But it is an imposter in the Archbishop’s disguise who comes to the venue. Before anyone could realise the fraud, the Prince is murdered and the killer escapes through a tunnel under the 16th Century church.

Interpol officer Aslan (Irfan Pathan) receives an email that contains a thesis written by Judith Samson (Meenakshi Govindarajan), an avid mathematician pursuing her research in criminology, which connects the modus operandi of the Prince’s murder and a politician's killing in Coimbatore. Following up the lead, Aslan travels to Chennai looking for clues to solve the mystery.

That is when we are introduced to Mathiyazhagan, a math teacher in Chennai. A man of few words, Mathi constantly denies his love for Bhavana (Srinidhi Shetty) and doesn't open up due to various reasons.

Once Aslan begins to make progress in the investigation with Judith’s help, it looks like Mathi could be Cobra, the brain behind several high-profile murders, including that of the Scottish Prince. We are then introduced to an ill-tempered man who guns down people almost at random. We do wonder how such a man with an unstable mind can run a sprawling business empire that has connections with the Scottish royal family and Russian defense ministry.

The first half of the film delves deep into numbers and mathematical calculations that only makes the story convoluted without layers. Two things that keep you glued are Vikram's disguises and AR Rahman's music. Usually, music largely depends upon the film's script. In Cobra, Rahman's music complements Vikram's performance and rises when Vikram's performance is at its peak.

Usually, films – especially those with a runtime of more than 150 minutes – tend to lag in the second half. But in the case of Cobra, the story gets simpler in the second half when the suspense unfolds. Seeing the different shades of Vikram’s character and how he has performed them keep us intrigued. We could see shades of Anniyan and Raavanan in this.

The interrogation scene where he performs in sync with Anandaraj stands out, making us realise that Vikram was Ajay Gnanamuthu's obvious choice for this project.

However, how long can Cobra manage to be a one-man show? Certainly not for the entire runtime. The film has its share of flaws, too. The comedy and romance do not work, while the heroine is once again reduced to a mere eye-candy. The only relief is that Meenakshi, who isn't a pair to Vikram, has been offered a meaty role and she has done justice. But the film could have been chopped by a good 20 to 30 minutes to make it crisper and one of the better thriller films of the year so far. But Cobra still manages to stay afloat.

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