So, I went to Kabali on Saturday. I love Rajni, but I also love Kamal, Danush, Vikram, Karthi, and maybe more too. Point is, I am not this paal abishegam Rajni fan who loved Linga, but a normal Rajni adorer and a lover of good movies.. Just like you. Of course, you would have figured this out by yourself when you realized I didn’t go to the first-day-first show of Kabali.
That said, I simply loved Kabali. I whistled at almost every scene. I was scared my heart would jump out everytime Neruppuda bgm came onscreen. I was squealing like a pig when Kabali laughed. At times I was so engrossed in the movie, that I realized only later that I should have jumped from my seat and clapped at the end of that scene. There were moments that made me tear up at Rajni’s Godly smiles, and moments which made me sit back and look in awe at the seasoned actor who was actually breathing the role rather than play up on his stunts.
In all, Kabali to me was rich in action, love, sentiment, anger that we love to see in a movie. I relished every single Rajni scene just how a hungry man given a plate of chicken briyani would do. And yes, I agree this movie wasn’t perfect. Can you tell me one movie which was perfect now? Like others, this movie had its set of flaws, but not in the way some people just thrash down Ranjith and Rajini!! It was a movie that depended on the story’s realism and Rajini’s acting powers. It delivered in both areas, which is really saying something!
Soo…you can understand my confusion hearing these negative reviews. To be honest, I also didn’t understand why people raved about Iraivi, an overhyped movie whose only saving grace was SJ.Surya. But, let’s not digress. I am here to talk about Kabali and why some people hated it. And what exactly these negative reviewers had expected to see in a Rajini movie. Here is what I think.
1) Let’s start with Rajni’s intro scene
It was theri. There he was, shown as a simple man, reading a powerful book (My Father Balaiah, a book on Dalit discrimination), walking a normal walk, and being treated normally by police and the public. He changed from his casual prison wear (which he rocked btw) to a jaw-dropping suit, but that wasn’t enough for you.
You noticed P.A.Ranjith didn’t show Rajini’s face in slow motion – starting from his forehead and eyes, moving slowly down to his big smile and ending with a trademark wink or a head nod of Rajni’s. The intro scene also did not have any actions of Rajni defying any laws of science. He was reading a book! No wonder it didn’t resonate well with you Kabali haters.
2) Rajni’s intro song
Intro song wasn’t by SPB. Yes, Rajni broke many of his cine-orthodox rituals in Kabali. There was no Pillayar silai or snake either. In Kabali, Rajini was shown in the intro song as a people of the masses. To be fair, though the song wasn’t easily understood by everyone, the intro song in reality had lyrics that was inspirational to the downtrodden people, and had very few lines praising Rajni.
But of course, even when Rajini accepted this change, it didn’t bide well with you. You needed SPB to sing around 50 lines praising Rajini’s character and mannerisms, and how even a new born baby smiles and stops crying upon seeing his face. That’s what an intro song should be for you.
3) Let’s come to looks
Rajini looked brilliant in every single scene. Especially while sporting the salted beard. I went gaa-gaa over it! I am still dazed by that bearded look. Phew, was he hot! In most of the frames, he wasn’t even wearing make up. And still he dazzled. At his age man! Also, the director made him stick to his beautiful color instead of painting him differently. Just lovely!
I guess for people expecting a plastic faced Rajini, acting like a fake 40 year old, this would be a disappointment. The problem is, you got used to seeing the smooth skinned, fake colored Sivaji-Enthiran-Rajini that you forgot how beautiful our natural Rajini looked.
Kabali Rajini looked simply stunning in his suits. Cut to flashback, it’s hard to get rid of the patterned brown shirt from our mind…or the plain shiny brown shirt for that matter. Rajini rocked his looks. Oooooo, not to forget his urban cool round glasses. It’s to die for. Let’s not forget Radhika Apte either. She looked lovely in her ordinary skirts and shirts and elegantly simple sarees.
So, I guess you are blind if you didn’t like these. Maybe you wanted Rajini to sport a jean jacket and cargo pants and act like a US return all the time. And maybe you preferred the heroine to wear dresses like what Aishwarya and Shreya did.
5) The story
Some people say there is no story in this movie and that was why people weren’t able to accept it. Probably these people feel, a woman falling for a guy just because he looks “manly” and where she plots her revenge through snakes and cows was a better story. Or may be you think, a scientist having a dome shaped structure in the middle of the city and wrecking havoc through a million dollar robot who develops real feelings for a woman, was a more realistic movie.
By now, you must know Kabali is a movie based on a bunch of real life incidents in Malaysia. The movie had our dear Rajini acting his age and playing a subdued character, for a change. He doesn’t jump around multi story buildings or trains as you expected.
Kabali has a powerful story. You would have to be blind to miss it. Blind to reality but open-eyed to masalas.The problem was, Kabali was very real that you were never able to accept it. You wanted Rainji to be shown as an Avengers hero fighting fantasy problems. You couldn’t believe he could give his voice for the people who wanted to be heard. Maybe if you lived in Malaysia, you may appreciate the film more. Or maybe if you opened your eyes and heart, you would realize the problem.
So some people said Kabali didn’t do anything in the film except sit and talk. I really am exasperated people. Were you even watching Kabali??? The same movie that I watched? Kabali had wonderful action shots, taken impressively! Btw, Kabali didn’t have his goondas doing his job for him, he was doing it himself in his ultra cool way. For God’s sake, Rajini killed more people with his own hands in this film, than any of his earlier films!! You better go to Kabali again and this time open your eyes, shut your mouth, and really watch the film.
The problem for you is, the movie didn’t have Rajni staring at a bull and making it stop hard in its tracks. It didn’t show Rajini stopping a train with his bare hands. What the hell, he didn’t even make an auto go front and back with a flip of his hand. Here, you see Rajini taking slow steps to get close to his enemies, and killing them himself. He doesn’t go around thrashing twenty different men of various sizes. He doesn’t fight against a robot who has superhuman strength. And no, he doesn’t fly high up in the air, defying gravity and age. Maybe that was why it was hard for you to accept it. Because, the movie was realistic.
7) Punch dialogues
Yes, Kabali doesn’t have your kind of punch dialogues. I say your kind, because the movie had the famous “Magizchi” in it, but I guess you people needed punch lines to make fun of, and not really something to repeat. It had lines worthy enough to raise eyebrows, “Gandhi coat potathukum, Ambedkar suit potathukum oru reason iruku”. Would you care to repeat this? I guess not. And, of course, who can forget his laugh? I mean, seriously!
I believe his punch was his laughter throughout the film. In Kabali, Rajini walks his trademark walk, laughs his trademark laugh and smiles his trademark smile, in every single scene! And man, when he laughs… his sound fills the theater with such warmth that you would be at a loss not knowing whether to whistle non-stop, cry like a one year old or jump on stage tearing the screen trying to hug him!
8) Sentiments and Kabali’s women
So Rajini’s movies always had sentiments attached to it. For you a Rajini’s movie means showing a mother who Rajini worships with his ultra big heart, or a sister who Rajni protects with his incredible strength, or a girlfriend Rajini acts goofy with and a sweet wife. Also you expect Rajini’s films to contain women who depended on Rajini.
But Kabali’s women were different. They were strong and at times shown to add power to his character. They were not shown on-screen mainly to dance around or play an innocent, doe-eyed, soft female character. They were all shown as equally powerful characters. Which..of course was hard for you to accept in a Rajini film, wasn’t it?
9) Rajini’s Caste
This is a big change. None of Rajini’s films, (as far as I know, but I may be wrong) had Rajini playing the character of a lower caste person. Many of his films showed him as a downtrodden wrt money, but never was the problem of caste explored. Yes, Ranjith had Rajini say some lines supporting people of lower caste. Maybe your brain was wired to not accept this scenario where Rajini is a lower caste person? Maybe if Ranjith had Rajini casted as an upper caste, voicing out for the lower caste people, some of you people might have been able to accept it? Just wondering here.
Whatever be it, Ranjith played smart. He used Rajini to voice out for the masses who were affected. The scene where Rajini sits in his chair and speaks, is one example. In his flashback scenes, Rajini argues so fluently in English to be offered the same wages as the Chinese. Thinking about it, if Ranjith had actually filmed this movie in Chennai, where he could have spoken about the diversity in wages (wrt to caste), I am sure all hell would have broke loose. Ranjith played smart and made sure the difference was not between caste, but between race. I salute you for bringing this issue to main screen media and out of the lips of our Superstar.
Rajini was without a doubt, at his best in Kabali. His hands, eyes and at times even eyebrows spoke volumes. The scene where Rajni eats his first meal outside prison in his friend’s place – you would feel as if Rajni was inside your house, talking to you, cracking up Vadivelu jokes!
In fact, that’s how I felt in most of the places…as if Rajni was using his own words and was speaking to us, the normal public, without any flair, any drama or unnecessary punches. Remember the scene at the hotel where he sits and looks at the person sitting opposite him and smiles? Sighhhhh. It was times like these that I felt Kabali was so original.. Rajini was so…natural.
But…this was a problem to you. What you don’t see is a lot of noise in the background. You don’t see him plotting at every single scene. You don’t actually want to see him smiling a lot. You want him to jump around. Act crazy. You want to see him talk dialogues like “Paninga thaan kootama varum, singam sinlgea thaan varum” and whistle. You don’t want to see a normal man. You don’t want him to act like you would act in that scenario. Right?
11) Rajini as an ordinary man
You saw Rajini take cover during gun shots. But you wanted him to bare his chest and catch the bullets in his hands. You were literally stunned by the scene prior to the interval. You could never think Rajini would be shown as an ordinary man acting on his heart, who wasn’t aware of what villains were up to. You wanted him to have super sensory perceptive skills, who can see the dangers lurking at every possible corner, smile knowingly and always a step ahead of the villains.
To put it bluntly, you wanted Rajini to be shown as the meme you people created for mocking him. You couldn’t accept Rajini being shown as a normal man. Maybe if Ranjith had thrown in a couple of dragons, it would have worked for you.
Anyway haters, let me end by saying this.
Kabali was a Rajini film throughout. He carried it successfully on his powerful shoulders. Kabali was such a refreshing change to any of his other films. This was one of the best Rajini movies I have seen. Kabali earns its place, right between Mullum Malarum and Baasha.
Most haters didn’t like the film because it didn’t show Rajini as a Superhero for them to mock at later. Others felt they weren’t able to connect to the film and it didn’t move them. You guys all have to understand Ranjith brought a sensitive subject to main screen media. If he had been given the freedom to express whatever he could on screen, regarding the problems Dalits face in TN/Malaysia, I doubt the film would ever have been released.
Thank you Ranjith for Kabali. And Rajini sir, you are the best.