Director Pa.Ranjith was all pumped up after watching the blockbuster Hollywood superhero movie Black Panther, which predominantly starred black actors. “I loved #BlackPanther,I could connect with #BlackPanther,I am provoked by #BlackPanther. I want to be a #BlackPanther.YES! I am #BlackPanther,” tweeted Ranjith, who has incidentally directed a film titled Kaala (black) starring the dark-skinned Rajinikanth.
Ranjith perceives the art of cinema as the biggest platform to highlight the caste politics and social injustices suffered by the Dalit community. The teaser of Kaala, which is just a little over a minute, makes it clear that like his previous films, this one will also have a deep socio-political foundation.
The Kabali teaser began with the antagonist in a high-pitch tone asking, ‘Who is Kabali?’. A few seconds later, Rajinikanth delivers the answer in his trademark style, “Not the sort of Kabali you think I am.” This Kabali is not the one who is subservient to his master (the upper-class landlords). He is the kind who thumbs his nose at them and offends their sensibilities by sharply dressing in a suit.
The punch line went viral without many getting the social messaging in it. The film also failed to impress many critics as it was not a regular Rajinikanth film. And the politics of Kabali went right over the head of many. It talked about how caste and religious identity of people followed them wherever they go and how their own identity was used against them to keep them under control. Not just in their country, but also in a foreign land.
Kaala teaser begins with Nana Patekar’s character dressed in pure white, sitting on a white colour sofa in a white themed-room, asking Rajinikanth, “What sort of name is Kaala?” in a tone that clearly suggests his disrespect to the one who he is addressing. Kaala, a short for Kaarikaalan, dressed in black, sits like a king on a chair with his chest expanded wide. A direct dare to Patekar’s character, who probably thinks Kaala doesn’t belong in his white-themed room. But, Patekar’s character like it or not has to acknowledge that Kaala has arrived. That’s what Ranjith also did in the viral punchline from Kabali: challenging the social hierarchy.
Judging from the teaser, Kaala is a story between good and evil. But as a departure from tradition, in this film the good is dressed in black, while the evil in white. It is going to be a battle between working class and the ruling class. Patekar says, “I want to make this country clean and pure.” And Kaala’s dialogue is matched to counter Patekar’s statement. “Black is the colour of proletariat.”
In Kabali, Ranjith told us who is his hero? Not a slave. In Kaala, he seems to set out to tell what is his hero made of?
Ranjith, meanwhile, is also not going to make the upcoming film just about the war between ideologies. Like Black Panther, that blended racial oppression in present-day America with superhero theme, he also seems to have packed elements that Rajinikanth fans come to cinemas hoping to see, while keeping his politics intact.
After drawing the battle lines in the first 30 seconds of the teaser, Ranjith uses the reminder time to throw the spotlight on the moments that will send fans on their feet in the theatres. In fact, he seems to have let his hair down in exploring Rajinikanth’s fluid body language and other features of his stardom in enthralling the fans, which was largely missing in Kabali.
Kaala may become Ranjith’s Black Panther at the box office.