Sunday, 24 July 2016

Kabali - The Hype and the review

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I arrived in the city just in time when the city was in a frenzy- the Kabali frenzy.

The moment I stepped into the city, posters, radio commericals, newspapers stories launched a visual, audible assault - left, right and centre. This "superstar movie" was the hottest thing in town and the topic of any conversation everywhere.

Everybody was making a beeline for the movie, It did not matter how good or bad it was, you just had to watch it - such was the hype surrounding it.

So, when I got the chance to watch this movie a day after its release, I thought, I couldn't have timed my visit better.

Determined to enjoy the movie despite bad reviews. I told myself it was the hype letting the movie down. But on the other hand, if it weren't for it, I do not think I would have bothered.


Kabali, a tamil gangster in Malaysia comes out of prison at the end of his sentence. He vows to take revenge on people who had wronged him. The reasons unfold as the movie progresses and we get to know Kabali - the messiah of the masses and tragic scars that he carries with him.

What works:
  • Rajnikanth - the only star who still has the power to pull people into the theatres. He is a true superstar with a following that many envy. His style and antics are what people wait for and he delivers.
  • The grandeur. Some of the malaysia shots are so breathtaking. The greenery and the city shots are so good that it made me want to visit the country. 
  • The first half of the movie is better. The cliff hanger on which the interval came on, left me thinking, perhaps people were too hasty in their judgement.
  • The movie is good in places. The build up to a certain element is satisfactory. It keeps the viewer engaged but then the story falls flat and then goes haywire. 
  • Kabali's strength lies in the women in his life. Loved that angle, which showed off the vulnerable and sensitive side of the gangster.
  • Thankfully, Rajnikanth is shown in an age-appropriate role instead of the "superman" who can whip up a storm by stirring up some leaves with his foot.
What doesn't:
  • The story. It is a safe, revenge story packed with the potential for Rajni to show off. Unfortunately, the star is much bigger than the story. There is only so much Rajni you can take, after that you need a tight story with a good flow to enjoy the film. That is when the disappointment creeps in.
  • The superstar is ageing and it shows. What came naturally off the bat, requires a a lot of effort here. The punchy dialogues and style though classy, look forced.
  • Mindless,gory violence. So glad we left the kids behind. Shooting and killing are part of any gangster story but here, it seemed senseless after a point. The villain was shot thrice at close range and still managed to fight back. Left me wondering what will it take to bump him off totally! 
  • The cast. Apart from a few known faces,there are a lot of malaysian actors - bad ones at that. Especially the villain who looks like a pathetic buffoon. The poor acting does not help either.
  • Radhika Apte. I loved her in Sujoy Ghosh's Ahalya and looked forward to seeing her. She has a meaty role in the film and is very much visible (unlike some of Rajni's other heroines) but then the script fails her too. After a point, she is left doing nothing but staring down at the villain.
Overall, there are some good points which makes one think that the movie could have been much better. But then when you have Rajnikanth in the film, the pressure and the expectations move up a notch. There is no way get the balance right when it comes to the weight of this star.

Although the whistles and the claps resonated the theatre at the beginning, it fell silent as the movie progressed. There was hardly any cheering in the end when the hero thrashed the villain. Says something about about the movie, doesn't it?

As I walked out of the theatre with a hardcore Rajni fan, she said, "Rajni is so big that he will draw criticism no matter what he does." This theist fan loved the movie and stood by her star.

But for this agnostic viewer, it was a case of Dil Maange More. That did not happen.

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