Hey you all! After my long hiatus from blogging, I got this unbearable itch to write, and when a good friend suggested writing about Kaala, I couldn’t resist. And so, I left my kid with my husband, paid the $20 muttering it was double the money for an English movie, and went to an evening show where I could rest my legs and feast my eyes on Karikaalan.
When I came out of the theater and my husband asked me how the movie was, I gave him a big hug. Well the hug was actually meant for Rajini for such a delightful performance in Kaala, but I am sure Rajini wouldn’t mind. Definitely worth the splurge, I told my husband. I loved Kaala.
People usually ask you the same questions after a Rajini film, so I have decided to do a Q&A for whoever is interested. For those who have doubts, concerns, worries on whether you will like Kaala or not…check this out and maybe you will find your way to the theater after reading this.
- Is Kaala a Ranjith film or Rajini film?
Truth be told, it is definitely a mix of them both. Ranjith’s desire to bring out the story of Dharavi, the oppressed classes and their life is showcased beautifully with the help of Rajini and the strong supporting actors. Rather than being classified as a Rajini’s film or Ranjith’s film, it would only do justice if Kaala is called as a powerful social awareness film, brought out to the world with the help of a mass actor and a strong director.
- I am a hardcore Thalaivar fan. Would I love Rajini in Kaala?
A definite yes! Thalaivar is in his best element here! As an actor, just when we thought we have seen everything that Rajinikanth has to offer, in Kaala, Ranjith has brought out a Rajinikanth who we haven’t seen before. In this movie, he has finally been stripped out of his larger than life image, to be this refreshingly ordinary middle-class-Madhavan type person, complete bvwith a ‘mundaas baniyan‘ and checked lungi, sitting on a plastic chair drinking tea from a stainless steel cup, outside his house where a dog lays resting looking as if it’s suffering from a bad case of anorexia. Can’t say how surprisingly exhilarating it was, to see this down-to-earth Rajni!! Oh, but wait. That is only his home look. Other times, he is rocking his black shirt, black veshti and black coolers with his dark looks, complete with the cloudy sky in the background. Kaala magnified!
In Kabali, we saw a stylish Rajini. In Kaala, we would see a Rajini of the masses, a “humanised” Superstar, who stays so natural that we will feel as if we know him personally. This grounded Rajni might feel weird to a few, who have gotten used to our Superstar perform Godly, out-of-the-world antics to stand by his larger-than-life image. But Ranjith has cleverly mixed Rajinisms at the correct proportion to satisfy his adoring fans, while staying rooted to his character. Take Rajini’s intro scene for instance. It is as an earthy intro, where we hear Kaala’s animated voice first, followed by his stylish back pose, ending with Kaala being shown playing cricket on a mud street with everyone. Ranjith sets the tone of the film right there in that scene. It was wonderful to see this Thalaivar and not the Superstar who stays in an aerobics pose raising his foot high up in the air grinning. (For those of you who long for such a star check out this intro scene and see if Rajini really needs to do such antics for heroism)
Ranjith must have paid attention to the reviews for Kabali, in which it was commonly felt Rajini didn’t have many lines to say. In Kaala, our Thalaivar delivers powerful dialogues sans “punch”. These are dialogues which emphasize the storyline, and not dialogues that boasts of what sort of a person Kaala is or what things he can do. Refreshing isn’t it?
The sassy way Kaala says his line just before interval and the scenes that follow it, will remind you of the black-and-white pre-stardom Rajini who can get a big applause for his dialogue delivery, rather than for uttering Trump-kinda punches.
And where words wouldn’t be enough, our Karikaalan, with his wistful pining eyes, make you feel the ache of his not-meant-to-be-love! I am sure Kannamma song would have melted your heart unless maybe, you are in your early 20s. The way his eyes speak verses, and the way he fumbles around Zareena, it will definitely make you forget that you are watching a 67 year old on screen for a minute. Slow claps thalaiva!
This film will show Rajini as a devoted husband, lover, grandparent, father – a complete package for us to eat up. As much as he looks endearing in his ill-fitted safari suit which he adorns when he meets up with Zareena, he looks equally bewitching in his fitting suit for Thangasilai song..
The fights..oooo…for those who expect a don-Rajini, they wouldn’t be disappointed. Me personally, I wondered whether this was possible at his age but quieted myself seeing how Rajini lovers ate up the scene.
Oh, and it’s been SO long since we saw our Superstar Rajini bring the roof down without relying on a comedian!! How I missed him! We all know of Rajni’s brilliant comic sense, and my heartfelt thanks to Ranjith, for showing us a glimpse of our Guru-Sishiyan type Rajini in the police station scene. The ending bit, the one word he utters at the end of that scene, would again bring you back to whistling mode, trust me. #MassThalaiva
So yes, my verdict – you would definitely love Ranjith’s Rajini in Kaala.
3. What about the story? Boring? Interesting? Thalaivarlaam ok, content iruka?
A brief interlude before I jump to answering this q. Ranjith always tries his best to break the unspoken barriers about Dalits, in people’s mind. For people who wake up on a nice bed, wear nice clothes, can afford to go to a good school, afford a good college, just because they were lucky enough to be born into such a household – it may be difficult to relate to the life of the people who go to the shop with nothing on their feet to get a packet of milk. It’s not that we are insensitive, it’s that our life is so busy that we don’t pay attention to the things around us and we end up even not understanding that silent oppression that exists all around us.
Take in movies for instance. If you think about it, before Ranjith, not many films have been released where the hero figures belonged to oppressed class. If Dalits were shown, they were either shown as supporting actors or side roles with no story of their own. Apart from Seetha in Unnal Mudiyum Thambi movie, I can’t remember anyone being represented in a good light in Tamil movies. (I maybe wrong, do let me know if you can think of anything else!)
My point is, we have so many movies about higher class people, and it has thrown light on what kind of lifestyle they lead. But there hasn’t been any good representation of Dalits in movies for people to know Dalit’s lifestyle. In fact before Kabali, there hasn’t been any good representation of movies that Dalits could even be proud of…They didn’t actually have a voice.
Anyway..Ranjith’s Kabali, Kaala (and Madras too) are all his ventures to help us understand Dalits better, and make them have their voice.And when oppressed classes have Rajini giving a voice, it definitely will make their sound heard better.
That said, Kala is a story of Black Vs White. In Kaala, Ranjith brings to life the “dark” slums of Dharavi, their conditions, their oppression, their needs with the help of Kaala, who fights against the “white” Hari Dhada, whose mission is to make a slum-free “clean” India. What’s most impressive about the movie is the way Ranjith has used Black and White throughout, to convey a deep message that Black doesn’t necessarily mean they are dirt, and White doesn’t necessarily mean they are pure.. Hari Dhada is always shown in complete white, residing in a white house, with fair people all around him..but he is dark inside. Kaala has everything and everyone black around him, but he has a pure heart.
That’s not all. All through the movie, you would see black and white colors scattered about. Some would be in clear view, like the rain-fight or Hari Dhada’s house, and others a little subtle like the dusky, beautiful and bold wife, who knows when and what to talk., and the fair Zareena. Easwari btw, has slayed her role and can’t easily be forgotten at the end of the film. Sharing a screen space with Rajni and giving a eye-popping performance is not something easy!
And there is the fair, Madhuri-Dixit-look alike, Zareena. Ranjith’s love scenes are always a treat to watch, and in our Kaala, Zareena is the character needed for Rajini’s love. I did wonder whether Zareena was really “needed” for the film, but if not for her, there wouldn’t be any love story in Kaala. Else we would have missed the blathering, fumbling Rajni whose eyes and actions reflected his emotions 🙂
Nana Patekar as Hari Dhada, was brilliant. In fact, he was such a presence that he will definitely steal your eyes from Rajini in some scenes. He didn’t overplay his role, but was powerful in all the scenes he came by. When you see him on screen, you are sure to be transfixed. The way he smiles and shuts his jaw tight to show contempt, the way he always adjusts his kurta, and the way he walks with his white chappals, his sneer – hypnotizing, really! One couldn’t help smiling at the way he expressed his apology to Kaala in the post interval sequence.
That there are no private toilets in Dharavi houses, the area of each house were all thrown about so casually but it got heard. There are many such scenes which hits you in the face, if you stop searching for Sivaji style Rajini and get into the movie. There is this scene where Hari Dhada doesn’t drink water he was offered at Kaala’s house. As one of Kaala’s dil say “He is talking so nicely..maybe he is not bad..”, to which Easwari replies “He didn’t even drink water from us. How can he be good?”, a subtle touch at untouchability that exists in many houses even today.
Let’s come to the background music. The BGM, like in Kabali, added so much more life to the movie! Be it in the rainy day fight sequence, or the Hari Dada’s entry or wherever Ranjith needed to raise our pulse, there would be the BGM to empower the scene even more! Serious applause Santosh Narayan!
As for the second half, the movie progresses to show protests taken up by everyone in social media. For people who wanted to see more of Kaala doing something, you have to realize it is a grounded film. Kaala doesn’t overthrow Hari Dhadha overnight like he becomes rich at the end of a song in Padayappa. Ranjith could have showed more of Rajini in the protests scenes, but maybe he didn’t want to go political. Understandable.
Ah, the climax! Definitely a different one. Applause to Ranjith to give the natural ending that the story gave rise to, instead of altering it to suit the hero image. Again a grounded ending sequence, where everyone of them and not just the hero, play an unforgettable, important role. (Special mention to the lady who played the activist. She shines in every scene she came in, and the way she struggled with the police officers in the end will surely bring tears to your eyes.) For people who expect an unrealistic Sivaji climax, Kaala’s climax might be hard to understand.
In all, Kaala has amazing content. It brings the story of Dharavi people up to the front, instead of just focusing on the story of Kaala and Easwari.
3. Is it a political film?
Well, before I answer this, answer me this – what do you consider as a ‘political’ film? Some would say if the entire movie is based on a politics, it is a political film. Others might call it so if it contained an actor distributing his propaganda through the film. Others might say if an actor attacks the current government in every scene, it is a political film.
Kaala doesn’t do any of things above.
There are politicians in the film. Some of the scene are based on what’s happening around us – you will know it when Hari Dhada call people as “anti-national” and when he speaks about making India “clean”, or when protests happen by the power of social media, or when police misbehave when 144 is in rule. This is the full extent of politics shown. These will remind us of the incidents that happened around us, but nowhere here does Rajini leverage on the shot and speak his mind on what we people should do.
Yes, there is the famous scene where he says we only have our body is our weapon and we should protest for landownership. That’s the only scene I can think of which is slightly But every hero in every hero-villain movie has said similar lines before. It’s because Rajini has stepped into politics in real life, that everything he does screams of politics to you. So, to answer the q, IMO, it is not.
4. What Kaala is not?
Dharavi and the life of the oppressed class, who have no ownership over the land they are living in. This is what the film is about and what you are going to be seeing this in the movie. Land ownership ha
So if you expect a masala entertainment and come to the movie, of course it won’t be there. If you expect Rajni to have a comedian as a sidekick and make some slapstick humor for you to whistle and clap, you will be disappointed. If you wanted to see Rajini wearing posh clothes, jeans, t-shirt and acting like a psuedo-40 year old, and romancing young heroines half his age, you will be let down. If you go expecting Rajini do impossible things,(like come back from the dead or take snake-robot style revenge) you will be disappointed. In short, if you want a SUPERSTAR film that defies time, logic, physics and biology – you will not like Kaala. Kaala will show us a seasoned actor, who stays true to his age and character.
To sum it up, the movie Kaala is NOT a one-man story like Sivaji, Endhiran, Annamalai. It is a story of the Dharavi masses. If you are mature enough to understand that, you will love the movie. And you will understand the ingenuity of Ranjith in the last scene and what was conveyed.
Go to Kaala expecting a strong story, and you will NOT be disappointed. The powerful message it tries to convey shouldn’t be diluted with unnecessary masala factors, and Ranjith has done justice to that. Go to Kaala expecting a brilliant “actor” Rajinikanth instead of Superstar Thalaiva, and you will definitely leave with a BIG smile on your face. Go to Kaala, expecting every one of the actors perform their role so brilliantly, and you will not be disappointed.