Thalapathy, Mani Ratnam's magnum opus in 1991 starring Rajinikanth and Mammootty, focused on the Karna-Duryodhana sub-plot of the Indian epic Mahabharatha. That filmmakers continue to evoke inspiration from this movie even 19 years after its release is an ode to its profound impact on Tamil cinema.
Meanwhile, the makers of Kouravargal, a movie that 'adapts' portions of Thalapathy blatantly, as have many films in the past, need to realise that not all imitations of past blockbusters have met with success.
The plot in Kouravargal, if it can be called that, revolves around the friendship between Thondaiman (Satyaraj), a godfather like figure who upholds morals by punishing the un-righteous, and Ganesan (Vignesh), an unemployed youth.
Kouravargal begins with Ganesan getting jailed for beating up the son of Dandapani, the local MLA, for misbehaving with a woman (Geetha (Monica)).
Finding out that Ganesan has been jailed wrongly, Thondaiman frees him and requests him to be a part of his activities, to which the former acquiesces readily. Meanwhile, Bhagawan (Alex), a friend-turned-foe of Thondaiman, constantly plots the latter's downfall.
As tradition dictates, Geetha, who is the sister-in-law of Nayanan (Ranjith), the police commissioner, falls in love with Ganesan, which ruffles Dandapani.
This coerces the MLA to conspire with Nayanan to plot Ganesan and Thondaiman's downfall. The remainder of the movie is about which faction emerges triumphant. (The similarities between Kouravargal and Thalapathi are more than just a coincidence!)
Among the actors, Satyaraj manages to hold his own, with the others ending up emoting beyond what is needed, leading to a deluge of emotions. The character of the sycophant of Dandapani as the ever-smiling assistant with his hands in a permanent namaskar evokes the much needed laughter.
Other major minuses in Kouravargal are its dialogues, which could have done with a good dosage of brevity and a long-drawn climax that puts to test the patience of its audience.