Review: Tamil superstar Rajinikanth reiterates his infallibility with Kabali

Lifestyle Tuesday 26/July/2016 15:07 PM
By: Times News Service
Review: Tamil superstar Rajinikanth reiterates his infallibility with Kabali

Grady Hendrix, a well known American writer and one of the founders of the New York Film Festival, while writing for the Slate magazine termed Rajinikanth as the "biggest movie star you've probably never heard of."
With the grand and enviable success of his latest movie Kabali, Rajini—who is fondly called Thalaivar (Leader) by his diehard fans worldwide—has once again proved that Hendrix was not simply trying to flatter him.
Rajini, who enjoys a demigod status in the Indian and South-East Asian movie industries, started his film career by playing antagonistic and supporting roles some four decades ago.
But soon, he became a sensation for his cigarette flipping tricks and stylish mannerisms.
In his first movie Apoorva Ragangal (1975), he played an abusive husband's role, however, by the 1980s, he had graduated to role of a lead actor, action hero and then gained a demigod status.
Now, even after four decades, by releasing his latest Godfather-like movie on 5,000 screens and earning $42.5 million on the very first day of the release itself, Rajini has proved that he still enjoys an indisputable larger-than-life image even while one can see him aging, with his veined hands and wrinkled skin right from his introduction as Kabaaleeswaran in Kabali.
"At the age of 65, he leaves us spell bound with his style and mannerisms. It's a surprise..." said Surendran S, an auto driver from the capital city of Kerala, who probably may be in his 50s, while dropping me at the theatre to watch Kabali.
However, many critics, especially those from the Kerala film industry, which claims to be the makers of award-winning films, say Rajini is not an actor, but only a mere performer.
But the common man like the auto driver, whom I met, always loves Rajini and watches his movies repeatedly.
"There will be a message for the common man in his movie. There will be punchy dialogue, which the common man like me will enjoy and repeat in our Dalit (low-caste) life," Surendran added.
Of course, for people like Surendaran, Kabali is not a 'mass' movie, but it's definitely a 'class' (a collector's item) movie.
I also agree with them.
However, fire emanating from the shoe while he walks and fiery dialogues bombarding villains, accompanied by heartbeat thumping background music, are missing in Kabali.
But with more acting elements and most importantly, Issac Newton's law-abiding action scenes have made it a classy gangster movie that shows off the superstar as a proper actor.
The movie talks about Tamil migrants in Malaysia and their struggle for fair rights.
Young at heart
The movie opens with the Malaysian police discussing the release of Kabali, who has been behind bars for 25 years.
In a flash back, which is woven into the movie and makes it drag and slow-paced, the film portrays how Rajini, the angry young black-skinned Tamilian, who rises from the masses, to question the white-skinned exploiting employers.
Soon, he becomes the protégé of a good gangster Tamilnesan (Nassar), who is against drugs and prostitution, rising through the ranks, much to the ire of a rival group helmed by Tony Lee (Winston Chao).
Kabali is then lured into a trap and caught in a massacre in which he sees his pregnant wife Kumudhavalli (Radhika Apte) die and is put in prison under false charges.
After his release, Kabali, the ageing don with a good heart and a magnificent grey beard, returns to battle Lee, who is now a drug lord.
Like in every Tamil movie, or in Indian movies, the hero gets back his daughter and wife dramatically.
While Kabali certainly has elements of a Rajini blockbuster, the superstar has shown justification in the movie by making Rajini play his own age (65) and exhibiting weakness.
He shows pain from bullet injuries and is also seen down on his knees, which is a rare one for this demigod.
However, a speedy recovery from multiple bullet shots and handling of shotguns during action scenes can pacify the Rajini fans who think of him as being indestructible.
Even at the age of 65, he fights like a 30-year-old and walks like a tiger eyeing its prey.
Trademark catchphrases and the hero descending the stairs in slick three-piece suits are also there, with him citing Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar for roaming around in suits during hot summer.
Apte's Kumudhavalli holds her own against the superstar with an assured grace, even bossing him around as the doting wife.
Yogi (Dhansika), who plays a female assassin and the role of the superstar’s daughter, with her intense eyes and confident screen presence, stands right next to Rajini in a number of scenes, engaging in decent action.
Dhansika's attire and mannerisms resemble that of Angelina Jolie's action roles.
Rewriting his own records
Helmed by Director Pa. Ranjith, who was also behind the 2014 political drama Madras, the film takes a stab at addressing social issues.
Music Director Santhosh Narayanan has done a pretty decent job with the songs of Kabali.
Njeruppada’ is a stand out composition, while ‘Mayanadhi’ and ‘Vaanam Parthein’ might become goldies as the years pass by.
Starting with a factory siren, followed by some guitar riff, ‘Njeruppada’ is a power-packed track, with all Rajini ingredients blended to perfection.
Sound bites, such as ‘Kabali daa,’ ‘Magazchi,’ straight from the mouth of Rajini had become viral within days of the music’s release.
The movie ends with a gunshot leaving the audience in the dark to guess whether their hero has fallen or not.
Kabaaleeswaran may have fallen, but Kabali does not.
This is undoubtedly Rajini's best film in years and he is here to stay in the future too.
He is infallible and unbeatable, rewriting his own records for box office collections.