Aug 8, 2016

Kabali | The corny movie review by Navin

*Begin fan moment*
Highlight of my weekend: Kabali
Now, I may not look like it, but I'm a massive fan of the Rajnikanth of yore. Padaiyappa, Pokkiri Raja, Thalapathi and Baasha are in the Top 10 of my favorite South Indian movies. 
*End fan moment*

So what's common between Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth? 

Both of them have had a very similar cinematic lineage. Both of them have done what millions of aspiring actors can only er.. well.. aspire.
Both of them are known to be very personable offscreen and have gone through some personal lows and incredible highs too. 
But that's where the similarities end. 

Amitabh has aged like fine wine, reinvented. He has chosen his movies carefully. He gets deep into the skin of his characters and that results in performance that scintillate. Some of his recent movies have him portraying characters that were age-appropriate and relatable. 

Rajnikanth. Not so much. After working in movies as epic as the ones he has, his recent choice of movies is like a failed denouement of an otherwise spectacular book. 

Enter 'Kabali'.

It is supposedly 'based on true events' and is supposed to capture the turf war between gang lords Kabaleeswaran (Rajinikanth) and Tony Lee ( Winston Chao) in Malaysia. 
Like any other film, this guy has been a part of, Kabali has been put through a well-oiled PR rigmarole. The makers whipped up so much publicity froth that the froth at the Bellandur lake looks tame. 

Now, before I go British and pick the holes in Kabali, I must tell you things that I loved about this movie. 

  • I loved that Rajnikanth can still deliver a dialogue with such fervor and character. Kabali is peppered with patriotic quotes and he delivers it in true style. I absolutely loved it when he said 'Karupa powerada' (black is powerful). Whistle Podu
  • I loved how he still has a certain 'aura' about him. I loved how he still shows how he can still get into the skin of his character and emote reasonably well. 
Now, the flaws.
  • Rajnikanth plays the protagonist with Radhika Apte as his wife (!). We must really allow Rajnikanth to age gracefully. Letting him have a bride who is less than half his age is just so wrong on so many levels!
  • We mustn't have him performing gravity-defying stunts. Even if it was just a stunt double who did it. The stunts, like any other regular Indian movie, are exaggerated and almost comical. 
  • Movies like Kabali, tend to revolve, quite literally, around Rajni. And this is what kills this movie. There is a lot of emphasis on Rajni and how he is portrayed, and on his makeup/prosthetics and so on. In Kabali, what astonished me is how Radhika Apte's character doesn't have the attention to detail. For instance, Rajni's character meets his long lost wife, after 25 years, and apart from a tuft of graying, there aren't any other signs of aging. After Kochadaiyaan, I've begun to feel they run out of money budgeted for the other actors after they've taken care of the SuperStar and the PR froth.
  • The 'suspension of belief'. While Hollywood movies aren't always stellar either ('Independent's Day' is an excellent example of how a popular movie is ripped off and remade into a C-Grade action flick with E-Grade stunts), some of what you see on in movies like Kabali is beyond ridicule. Rajni gets his chest pumped with bullets and 10 seconds later, we see him sitting upright at home, with just one teeny-tiny bandage as if he just had a flu shot. 
  • At some points, I found myself nodding off because of the pace, and at some other points, I felt like the director wanted to tell us something epic but got distracted and then decided to move on. Alas!
So, what ails Rajnikanth? 
Spoiler Alert: Rajni should stop playing a gangster because this could be the death of him (no pun intended).
We mustn't expect him to give a catchphrase for every movie he acts in. Even then, I doubt if anyone even caught the 'Karupa powerada' line. 
We refuse to divorce the man from the actor. The internet is filled with superhuman memes and legendary accounts of his humility, charity / largesse and approachability. 
Over the years, we have elevated a simple man with an exceptional talent in dialogue delivery and great screen presence into a demi-god. 
So this isn't about Rajnikanth. All the frothing is only possible because ordinary Tamilians have latched on to their next 'actor turned Chief Minister-in-waiting'. Don't believe me? Look at the political lineage of Tamil Nadu and you'll agree. 
No matter how bad his movies do, we won't allow Rajni to fail our dreams for him. But does that make him a great leader? 
I digress...

Would I recommend it?

The makers of this movie wanted us to believe this movie was based on a true account of 2 gangsters. 
The truth is there wasn't a man called Kabaleeswaran but there was a Tamil fighter called S.A Ganapathy, who campaigned for the rights of Tamils in Malaya. 
If you really want to enjoy Kabali, empty your mind, suspend your logical thought, dress the part, and watch the movie in the company of a dozen other equally lunatic fans (no pun intended). 
Kabali isn't a Jason Bourne, a Godfather, or even a Shootout at Lokhandwala. Rajni doesn't have the charm of a do-gooder Robin Hood nor is suave enough to pull off a ruthless mafia boss. 

So, there you have it. Kabali. One of the highest grossing Indian movies of all time isn't really even a movie. It is the World's most expensive PR campaign for Tamil Nadu's next politician. One where the makers are already sashaying their way to the bank. 


In the meanwhile, Kabali isn't doing much for Rajni's true fans, like me. 


My Rating: 5.5


What does the rating mean? 

0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...