He is known as the Chuck Norris of India (or should I say Chuck Norris is the Rajinikanth of Hollywood??). But the movie Kabali marks a definite change from that image. Images and conversations that stun you for this striking change is what actually grabbed my attention in this Pa Ranjith movie. Apart from those aspects it isn’t the usual Rajinikanth movie or a content driven Pa. Ranjith movie.

The film is set in the backdrop of Malaysia. There is this fight between two gangs and Kabali is the leader of one of the gangs and they are involved in good deeds like rehabilitation of drug addicts and education of Tamilians etc. The movie focuses on that phase of Kabali’s life where you see the return of the hero after a long imprisonment. His journey after that shattering phase is what Kabali depicting.

Just like I said in the beginning, it’s not your usual Rajinikanth movie. Except for certain sequences in the first half of the film, the superstardom isn’t visible in the movie. After a point, the movie loses its focus of being an action movie and diverts into a becoming a slightly outdated family drama of somewhat laughable twists (those coincidences reminded me of the Batman Vs Superman Jayan Prem Nazeer spoof video). And after all the emotional journey of the Gangster, it again goes back to the Gangster fights, and ultimately follows the rise of the shattered don in the clichéd path. The areas that grabbed my attention through the making style were the second half death struggle of Dinesh and the overall naturalness of the character Kabali.

As a maker, what Pa. Ranjith has tried is to add realness to the treatment. The way Kabali behaves in that salt n Pepper look has that simplicity of the real Rajini and to keep the fans of the superstar excited, there are glimpses of his typical gimmicks which create whistles. The content is the typical Gangster movie story of one particular Gangster facing all the odds and coming back strongly. Looking at that tricky climax I sort of felt that Ranjith had something else in mind but it ended up like this. There is this intention present event different from the usual way but unlike his previous creations, director can’t establish any significant idea. The wife character played by Radhika Apte is supposed to be the pillar of Kabali, but while watching the film, you won’t really feel it that way. The whole family episode struggles a bit to blend with the other portions of the film. Cinematography was good. Edits were just okay. The music was undoubtedly good but the BGM isn’t that convincing in its entirety.

The main attraction of Kabali was the different Rajinikanth. The movie has got this enormous opening, people going crazy about it everywhere and the moment you realize that this man achieved it by playing a 50 or 60 year old character that demands more of his acting skills than the usual charm, you automatically tend to respect him. It is one of those movies where you see a less theatrically emotional Rajinikanth and the swag is a bit more realistic. Radhika Apte in her minimal role succeeds in being that strong lady support. Attakkathi Dinesh was hilarious. Dhansika as the daughter did a good job. As the fulltime friend John Vijay was also nice. The antagonists performed by Kishore and Winston Chao were also okay.

Overall I would say it is a mixed bag. On one side you have this totally different less super heroic Rajinikanth character, with no cliche parallel comedy tracks or out of the blue hero worshipping songs. But on the other side there is this totally dull and unamusing story that fails to define characters and can’t really stay in your mind for the story factor. Who cares about the story in a Rajinikanth movie right??

Rating : 5/2.5 (IYKWIM)

Final Thoughts

I would say Kabali is a mixed bag. On one side you have this totally different less super heroic Rajinikanth character, but on the other side there is this totally dull and unamusing story.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.

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