The film that was anticipated with bated breath by millions of fans and movie buffs all around the world is finally out. The regular movie-goers would have seen Rajinikanth in different kinds of films, but what is special about Kabali is his collaboration with a two- film-old young director Ranjith which has played a big part in the curiosity levels of the audience. This combo is something new and fresh. And hence what is it going to offer to the viewer, is the standard thought in many minds.
Kabali is about an aged, reformed gangster Kabaleeswaran who had fought for the oppressed in Malaysia and returns from his jail stay after twenty-five years. What life has in store for him after this, is the turf in which Ranjith has played his shots, the scene of action being predominantly Malaysia.
The director gets into action without wasting any time starting with a small build-up scene for the lead and the very next frame he takes you to the highly anticipated hero intro scene. This happens with a lot of measured calculation, slowly building the tempo and reaching the crescendo powerfully, making Rajini fans come to their seat's end with a thumping heartbeat which becomes a collective loud one eventually. Ranjith has used Rajini's swagger to his advantage, albeit at a different pace.
There are hardly any scenes that pass which do not involve Rajinikanth in it but Ranjith has made sure that he has put all his acting resources to good effect. All the characters have been established having Rajinikanth alongside them.
Kabali shows another side of a gangster. Apart from the fancy costumes, guns and other style elements you find in gangster films, this film shows an emotional side of a gangster. His thought process, how he handles betrayal, tackles his enemies are all showcased neatly. A gangster cannot be powerful always. Likewise, Kabali's graph has a lot of ups and downs. He is strong and normal with friends and family but could be feeble when he is betrayed or when he lets emotions rule over him. Ranjith has played very well with such emotions.
It is easily Rajinikanth's show and the style samrat delivers it all with vigor. Rajini has quite a few sentimental scenes which have come out well. When it comes to Kabali, more than his mass mannerisms, it is the sentimental scenes of him that will be the talking point.
The hard work that has gone into the flashback segments in terms of physical appearance is praiseworthy. But there are times when the younger Rajinikanth looks a little out of place.
Radhika Apte as Rajini's wife Kumudavalli, is apt. The actress known for her subtle nuances holds her fort in this Rajini film too. Dhansika is effective in her action avatar. Kishore, Kalaiayarasan, John Vijay, Rhythvika, Dinesh and all the other supporting characters have managed to provide the right kind of foil for this superstar film.
On the technical side, Santhosh Narayanan's score is a major plus to the film with the songs not being an unwanted protraction. Maya Nadhi is melodious and brings out a matured affection. Veera Thurandhara and Neruppu Da up the mutineering mood as montages. Murali's camera captures the Superstar in his stylish best and Malaysia in its right feel. Editor Praveen has ensured that the product is at its cohesive best. Anu Vardhan's costumes for Rajini are suave and classy, especially his suits. Ramalingam's set designs and Anbariv's action sequences reveal that the team has worked in unison with the director's vision. However in the climax scene, the art department could have worked a little better.
The pace of the film is a little slow. It is not a film for people who are used to clichéd mass hero films. Ranjith is known for his pro oppressed class ideologies, and he does not fail to showcase them in his films. There are some interesting tropes in Kabali too and a few sharp dialogues.
That said, the teaser of the film gave a super massy expectation for the film but when the film's core is not that, it might give room for a little disappointment. And in a gangster film such as this, the antagonists should have been more powerful which would have made the protagonist much stronger. Sadly, despite having many villains, this did not come through.
Kabali is more of a Ranjith film than Rajini's. Some of the scenes and characterizations do remind you of the director's previous film Madras. One should say the screenplay could have been tighter. Usually, when a new director works with a big star like Rajinikanth, they tend to adjust the flow of the film for the hero's stardom but Ranjith has extracted what he wanted for his script without compromising much.
Verdict: Rajinikanth in a different dimension, but Kabali might not work for everyone. Theatres which are known to reverberate for Rajinikanth, seem a lot more silent for Kabali.
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