Okay! Let’s get this straight. It’s only when Pa. Ranjith stages spectacular action sequences featuring that gushing soundtrack “Neruppu Da” composed by Santhosh Narayanan, that Rajni’s Kabali even takes off the hook! The film is just half of what was promised in the teaser better still, it is a fascinating case for budding marketers in cinema. Do I mean to dissuade you? Hell, not! In case if you are familiar with south Indian cinema, especially Rajnikanth – not in a million years!
Patrons of Rajni could be rest assured Kabali offers fun good time at the movies. Rajni’s ad-lib one-liners, his staccato laughs. His fights and emotions. The way he totes his gun – you get to see them all in Kabali. The moment you step into the mix of a jam-packed crowd, you’re in for a full-on entertainer with people bustling in, rooting, hooting and clapping for their favorite star right throughout! The film is a marginal improvement on Rajni’s previous live-action avatar in Linga, but bare in mind this ride comes with speed bumpers too. The core of the plot that pits Rajni’s titular character opposite puppet-prop Malaysian Dons, for instance, is plain boring. They seem to have walked straight out of a magazine cover, and all you see in the film is Rajni tearing them apart!
At its initial screening during July in New York, Kabali got the nod from Rajni. He said – “Makkal would like this” to the director, ‘makkal’ meaning his legions of fans all over! What’s interesting is that Rajni believes the movie is minus his regular stereotypes, an argument which appears rather contradictory the moment you walk out of the cinema halls. When the teasers of the film released in May this year it created a havoc in and around the country, especially in social media. People were waiting in anticipation for its release with corporate giants even booking tickets for their employees, and the families of the employed🙂
Think about this, won’t you? Wonder what would have happened if Rajni were a cricketer once in a distant past? Maybe we would have got national holidays when India plays in the world cup finals or something! The trailer got gushing reactions from virtually everyone, mainly because it sports Rajni in a salt and pepper look, wearing a grayish jacket, and playing a Malaysian Don who speaks for the oppressed niche community in Kuala-Lumpur. For the first time in his acting career, here was Rajni playing a role that suits his age. Pa. Ranjith the director of the film, likened Rajni’s role in the film to his vintage characters in classic such as “Mullum Malarum.”
Is the movie as good as Mullum Malarum or is it even as good as the teasers promised? NO! I had to get that out at first. At worst, it is a disappointment of colossal magnitude. At best, it’s a campy trash movie which could best be termed “mere guilty pleasure.” And as I said before it is an advertisement for new-age digital marketing in the world of cinema as well. To what degree you like or dislike this work may rely upon how much you like “Rajni’s version of mass.” Adjectives are there in plenty to describe him – Eccentric, Quaint. Full of swagger and style. I prefer using the word “INDELIBLE.”
The story begins with the release of “Kabali” from a Malaysian prison – which kinda looks more like a Rehab or something than, say, a prison. Where most prisoners would hobble off having served jail time for 25 years, Rajni’s “Kabali” gets a hero’s send-off from the inmates. In the scene that proceeds afterward, you see him doing a saunter, sporting a Rayban, a grayish blazer and that classic salt n’ pepper beard which we saw in the promos! The blazer which he wears in Kabali is not just a blazer, but a symbol of pride. These people are immigrants from Tamil Nadu who have or had been oppressed by the gang lords in Malaysia, those hasty industrialists take sadistic pleasure in downtrodding the poor.
To the center of a no-nonsense plot enters Don Tamilnesan played by Nasar the leader of the pack who mentored Kabali, in his formative years. When Tamilnesan gets murdered on his car, Kabali takes charge of his gang mafia against the wishes of Veera played by Kishore, and Tony Lee played by Winston Chao. The two main villains in Kabali sashay in here and there, as mere puppet-props. Although the center of attention is none other than Rajni himself there is B-town diva Radhika Apte in an extended cameo as Kabali’s wife and Dhansika as a henchman filled with hidden motifs. They are all outstanding, but this is a Rajni movie. We’re here for him. For his laughs and stare. Whatever he does on screen is an understatement actually, boasting off such screen presence – you would hoot and clap for it immediately! (Patrons just listen to what Akshay Kumar has to say about Rajni while working on Shankar’s ambitious new project, Enthiran 2/2.0)
The best of Rajni feature in the initial parts of the movie. The bit where he proclaims himself as “KABALI DA!” to a local ganglord or that scene where he rams his car over one of Veera’s henchmen. Even your wildest of imagination can’t trump the reality! What follows is a revenge saga full of twists and turns, tender emotions, stunning action sequences, and ad-lib one-liners. Unfortunately, the script on offer is a lame one. And Pa. Ranjith wastes too much time and energy on building character arcs, archetypes and “plot” in a Rajnikanth movie! Get over it, won’t you?
However, the same mustn’t be said the action scenes which are killer good. And when combined with Narayanan’s “Neruppu Da” you get the movie equivalent of “rock the house.” Above all Kabali would be remembered for setting a trend for promoting Cinema through social media. It is being said that S.Thanu, the producer cum distributor of the film, sought the help of new-age technology in the form of Qubewire; a web key management system that enables film distribution at a faster than lights speed.
Having spun 300 crores plus net in its first weekend itself, patrons of Rajnikanth is now looking forward to seeing the net figure shoot upwards to maybe 600-700! Suffice to ask this – Is Rajni the cinematic equivalent of Aladdin’s Genie? Jokes apart, to describe the experience of watching Kabali I would borrow the film’s trending catchphrase – MAGIZHCHI. It’s not an expletive, it means CHEERS!