Well, there are some movies which has to be reviewed and posted. Illati saami kutham aaidum. Kabali is right up there.
Is it a typical Rajini movie? No
Is it anything like Ranjith's previous movies? very little to say so
Is it an unique never before attempted storyline? Bah. No
So what's it about that movie that has everyone chanting its name in feverish frenzy? Its nothing but the charisma of the hero of the movie and over above everything the market savvy promotion knack of producer Thanu. From flight to fairness cream, he had made sure that Rajini's face is plastered across all and sundry. For a person who seldom dealt with commercial ads, he has sure been milked for his marketable money. Unlike other movies that get released online, decent word for piracy, a day or two after the movie's release, Thanu's undeclared war on torrent sites only resulted in the movie getting co-released on torrents alongside theatres and that too in HD print. This goes on to prove that, when the movie is getting released across several thousand screens, its virtually impossible to control the leak, despite water tight support against the same.
Coming to the story, the first half is a cacophonic mix of issues faced by Malaysian tamils, with dialects bordering on local tongue. The intro scene of Rajini, often the most anticipated and cherished moment for the fans, got leaked online and even then the sheen of the magic was undisturbed. For non Malay non Singapore tamils, this may not be their cup of tea to relate. The concept of tamil suffering across the globe was brilliant but sadly it didn't translate onscreen. Had it been relatable, the movie would've gone up several more notches in its reception and might've even been critically acclaimed. Rajini couldn't look any dapper in suit. It fits him to a T and more than Ajith's salt and pepper hair style, his is worth its salt (literally and figuratively). The movie's first half has more of Ranjith's flavour and second half is owned by Rajini. For those who long for Rajini to don roles similar to what Amitabh has been doing for more than a decade now, that is freely experimenting on roles that suit his age, this movie could be that step. With age not on his side and him being a reclusive actor, sadly we may not get to see much more of this version of Rajini. In this movie, however, we get to see the vulnerability that he can portray so easily and the strength he brings to the don character. But for the climax fight, in usual cinema masala style, there is hardly any rajini to be seen on screen. Its the character that dons the scene. Another major noteworthy point about the movie is its songs. Unlike his other movies, there are hardly any chartbusters in this one, but for the viral hit "Neruppuda". Maaya Nadhi song has been neatly pictured. And the open ended ending, where there is implication that Rajini might've been killed by one of his own is something of a new for his film endings as well. Its difficult to classify the story in any genre. It has revenge, family sentiment, fight, politics and, surprisingly for a Rajini movie, not an inkling of comedy. Yet none of it strikes close to heart, for its the star who matters and he definitely has done his best compared to his other movies in recent decades. Guess the director must be venkat prabhu's assistant. Like him, he has given chance to all the cast and crew of his previous movies in this film. Probably a minute in rajini's movie might worth more than the sum total of all their efforts in other projects might have been the thought process behind them accepting such miniscule roles, after some really good performances.
Gils verdict: The expectation around the movie, despite its hype, was more on how the director, whose previous movies were so natural and more artsy would mould the commercial star. Similar was the expectation around simbudevan when he took up "Puli" for he had aced the deal in "Pulikesi" movie. Needless to say, both the directors have failed to meet the expectations and have struggled at best to retain their original story style while catering to the audience demand for the stars. Kabali is an ok movie at best and that too because of the star power called Rajini and for his credible performance. But, what else can one expect from his movies :) Those who watch it just for Rajini, may not be disappointed. If you go with expectation on the director or for trademark rajinisms, give this a miss.
Note: The movie has put honest and frank opinion at risk. Will post about it next.