Kabali-sensational performance from superstar

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Kabali-sensational performance from superstar

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The most expected movie of the year 2016 brings together Superstar Rajinikanth and young writer & director Ranjith. I was personally looking forward to the movie a great deal because the man behind movies which were known for their realism in terms of story, characters and place were bringing the Superstar into a script based on Malaysian gangsters. The other exciting aspect of the project was the involvement of a young technical crew especially the likes of Music Director Santhosh Narayanan.     

The music of the film had definitely added weight to the Script envisioned by the Director and the songs of the albums are in perfect sync with the situations. The background score of the movie was also noteworthy for the use of strings and the pauses/silences and there were about 4 themes which were repeatedly used throughout the film.  The music of the film had a strong ‘ilayaraja’ essence and rightly a homage was paid to the Maestro himself.  The sound design and editing of the film was also top notch.

The Art Director/Production Designer Ramalingam has also excelled in this movie where Parts of Malaysia & Thailand was recreated in Chennai  without the same being glaringly visible. The costume designs of the movie played a major part in adding a sense of time and place and in fact added flavour to the characters themselves. One of the big pillars of the movie is the Cinematographer Murali. Without any gimmicks, he has captured the tone of the screenplay and the performance of the characters, mainly that of the superstar to its fullest. The editor Praveen was a mixed bag because the first half of the film was crisply done and the songs which were basically montages was highly impressive but the last of act of the movie could have been given a different treatment.

The research that has gone into making this movie is something to be appreciated. The culture & tradition of the Malaysian Tamils are well represented and the research also played a major part in bringing a sense of place to the entire film. If only the same amount of effort had gone into the screenplay, the movie could have achieved much more. The Writer and Director need to be applauded for breaking the Rajni Cliches  and certain scenes where the writer shines are some of the best emotional scenes to come in Tamil Cinema in recent years. The first half of the movie was written extremely well excepting the interval point impact which was undone immediately at the beginning of the second half. The flashback portions basically set up the rivalry between the opposing gangs in the midst of political and revolutionary upheavals. The writing really slows down necessarily to show big emotional moments which has worked big time. The first 30 odd minutes of the  second half where aged don goes in search of his family was written extremely well. The placing and the treatment of the songs are one of the major highlights of the movie. The justification of the scripts, the characters and the moments therein decides the success of the film and that is what screenplay writing is all about in my opinion. There is no fast pace or slow pace, there is just the story and characters and scenes written for them.


There were one too many characters in the film and the idea of them being reflective of the different facets of the environment therein is good but what matters the most are how each of them contribute and propel the story. One or two characters could have been cut down as the subplots  written for them weighs down the narrative. The justification of the moments and characters are again key to the screenplay and there were moments when the don who is in search of his lost love feels the pain of longing which gets distracted by jarring dialogues and characters.


The main let down in screenplay is the last 30 minutes or so of the film. The last act was neither set up properly nor engaging and that in my opinion is the major reason for all the reviews that is out there.  Along with resonating moments, the screenplay kept building up the tension as to how the Don will take down an organisation but nothing much as an idea or strategy was written. The characters of main villains should have been fleshed out better and because of an existence of many characters that was lost. The loyal guy or Opportunist (Nallvana ila Kaetavana) play with the supporting characters was overplayed and became predictable.


The final shot of the movie needs to be applauded and that takes courage to write such a scene. Kudos to Ranjith and to the Superstar for backing him but again that also should have been justified better as why a particular character would take such a decision which could have created a larger impact. The dialogues of the film was again a mixed bag. There were great lines which underlined ideologies and plight of downtrodden but sometimes it would have been conveyed well if done subtly rather than on your face delivery. All things considered, the writing of Ranjith lacked finesse and was tacky towards the end. But the writing for most of the first two hours of the film deserves mention apart from certain shortcomings.

The performances in the film are worthy of the ticket price especially that of Rajinikanth the actor who is simply phenomenal in this movie where he plays the aged don portraying a different array of emotions. From being a hardened gangster, to be carrying wisdom for his age, to being majestic and to also play the longing father and husband which is the emotional and human side of the don. To pull off everything perfectly without overdoing or under-doing anything that too in back to back scenes is simply sensational. Superstar's eyes, expressions and dialogue delivery narrated more story than the screenplay. I can confidently say that there is no other actor who could have done what Rajinikanth has done in this movie. After Superstar, Radhika Apte shines in the film as the wife of the don. She has definitely left a big mark in this film and the scenes between both of them are solid gold.

When it comes to supporting characters, Dinesh Worked well with the audience but the moment he delivers a dialogue, it was totally different. Winston Chao the main villain was cartoonish and John Vijay was a bad casting choice. He was never convincing and his dialogue delivery was simply reading out sheets of paper. Dhanshika was good in action portions but not much in emotional portions. The highly talented Kishore had fulfilled what was given to him.


Apart from the patchy screenplay, the other major factor for negative reviews is the misleading publicity and hype created by the producer. All the promos projected the movie completely in a different light than what it was. The audience went in expecting Baasha or Annamalai type movie and ended up watching Superstar break all the clichés generally associated with him in the last decade.

Kabali is good film especially the first two hours which was followed by an average not so engaging last act. The performance of Superstar alone is enough to watch the movie more than once of the big screen. He has owned Kabali like anything and in short was simply sensational. Although the film is tacky in the end, it has good moments and great scenes which are certainly very rare nowadays. I'm confident that people who trashed the movie with their reviews will certainly change their opinion of the movie if they watch it again, the difference being, absence of any expectations. Kabali is a not so perfect but a flawed good film with a sensational performance from the Superstar.

Sriraman Srinivasan
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