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Kabali Director: Pa Ranjith
We have seen many movies in the past which couldn’t measure up to the vaulting hype around their release, and Kabali makes it to the list as well. What Kabali lacks is pace and mass, an unwanted trait in many Rajinikanth movies of late.
Director Pa Ranjith appears to be affected by the pressure of handling superstar Rajinikanth and fails to find the right balance between his filming style and Rajinikanth’s larger-than-life screen persona. Thus the film is enjoyable in parts but tests your patience at many points and falls just short of a great cinematic experience.
The story has twists in the form of betrayals and unexpected reunions. These are so common in the film that the ‘unpredictabe’ plot twists soon becomes predictable.
However, Kabali has enough ‘goosebump’ moments too. The scene where Rajinikanth is doing pull-ups on a cross bar, testing his fitness before he’s released from jail after serving a long term, fuels the imagination and teases us with what is to come . After signalling his arrival in style by flooring his old foe inside his den, Kabali is shown heartbroken by the loss of his beloved wife Kumudavalli, played by Radhika Apte.
The first half of the movie shows the growth of Kabali from being a leader of Tamil workers settled in Malaysia into a feared don. When the ganglords who are involved in drug and flesh trade decide to eliminate the ‘good don’ Kabali, the ageing don has to overcome all his emotional baggage to prepare for another gang war. But before that, he will find those who are dearest to him and find an emotional closure.
That done, Kabali returns to his turf to find his trusted lieutenants being killed by his enemies. Then there is war, like the war Mario Puzo described in the epic Godfather, except what Micheal Corleone did stealthily, the Malasian Tamil don achieves in a flamboyant blood bath. The climax shot leaves a question about whether there is anything more to be achieved in Kabali’s life.
Pa Ranjith needs to be credited for giving ample scope to Rajinikanth to reinvent himself and this phenomenal actor never ceases to amaze us. He manages to keep his facial expressions, gestures and his signature style intact, even at the age of 65. The actor exhibits how he is a class apart with his expressions, especially during his scenes with Radhika Apte Kumudavalli and during the song, Mayanadhi.
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Radhika Apte is elegant as always and complements Rajinikanth well. Dhansika as Kabali’s daughter doesn’t look convincing and Winston Chao, the antagonist simply fails to match up to Kabali’s persona. Santhosh Narayanan’s background score adds to the intensity of the movie while songs go smoothly with the situations.
Take away the dramatic script and lagging screenplay and Kabali is an unusual Rajinikanth film, which manages to combine the actor’s mass appeal with a nuanced character. And hey, we get to see Rajini play his age finally!