Disclaimer: I'm a Rajini fan. He is my first and only matinee idol.
Most of the festivals come once a year but not Superstar's movies. They get released once in two or three years. So for Rajini fans, their idol's movies gain more importance than any festival on their release year. This time, the festival is named "Kabali". After the YouTube era, his movie releases can be broken into six stages.
6 stages of a Rajini movie
- Media announcement and other gossips, where your expectations build up
- Teaser release, when your expectations reach a peak
- Trailer release, when your expectations go beyond the peak you intially thought as a peak, and you can't wait more to see the complete movie
- First Day First Show (FDFS), when your emotions go through the sky and when your eyes just follow Rajini everywhere ignoring others on the screen
- Next show(s), when you want to see what other characters in the movie did and what the actual movie is about. You might possibly take your family as well.
- Movie release in TV, when you watch the movie with the whole family, once again.
Rajini knows about his fans and general audience, who would anticipate any of his movies with humongous expectations. So he doesn't take much risks in story selection and works with established directors, who would guarantee success. Whenever he tried to deviate from this path, it has backfired - Baba, Kuselan, Kochadaiyaan and few more. However, his last movie Lingaa was not supposed to meet a lukewarm reception, as the director (K.S.Ravi Kumar) was known for his commercial crowd pleasers and the technical team was world class. After Lingaa, he was left in a dilemma - whether to go back to old methods once again or try something new. His daughter, Soundarya, had come to his aid and helped him choose a young and dynamic team led by Pa. Ranjith.
Pa. Ranjith is only two films old. His debut movie, Attakkaththi, was made on a shoestring budget and made a very good profit. His story telling was simple and fresh. His next one was Madras and he showed how politics play a part in the lives of youth from North Chennai. Even though it had a better established actor - Karthi, it was still a Pa. Ranjith's movie. His third movie is going to be one of the biggest milestones of his career. After all, he is directing one of the highest paid actors in Asia. Pa. Ranjith has retained his trusted technical crew from Madras. One of them is Santhosh Narayanan, who is radically different from his counterparts and easily the most sought after music director in Tamil cinema now. For cinematographer G. Murali Vardhan too, Kabali is his third movie. He showed a lots of promise in Madras. Praveen K. L might be the most senior member among them. The National award winning editor (for Aaranya Kandam) has so many impressive works to his credit. Maya, Cuckoo and Madras showed the mastery of art director T. Ramalingam. To top it all, the producer behind this mega project is Kalaipuli S. Thanu, who knows the cinema trade like his back of hand. He is sure to make the content rich and lavish.
10 most impressive things in Kabali teaser
Kabali teaser was released yesterday (May 1st) and what a reception it received! It tumbled so many YouTube and other social media records. It was trending everywhere from YouTube to FaceBook to Twitter and what not. As of my writing, it has crossed 5 million YT views in one day beating all the Indian films by a mile. (As on 6/5/16, it is going beyond 12.5m views! All time record for an Indian movie!) Like Sachin Tendulkar setting every record, it is Thalaivar who sets new records everyday in Tamil cinema. Others just follow the path and one day, they may cross them. Till Sachin made 200 runs in a one day match, no one thought it was possible. But once he showed the way, other batsmen started believing themselves more. Rajini is the Sachin of Tamil cinema or Sachin is the Rajini of cricket.
So coming back to the teaser, what made it click?
You could see who it is just from the silhouette. You could see that style, that confidence, that screen presence - just from this one shot. For any Rajini movie, his first entry scene is You could hear all those wolf-whistles in the theatre now itself. BTW, it looks like Don Kabali is being released from a high security prison after sometime. This could be the actual entry scene of Rajini.
2. Style, Gethu, Mass, Attitude!!
Oh, that walk! that attitude! that 'gethu'! He is the epitome of 'mass overloaded'. He fits into any costume comfortably and he looks suave! Here, with the 'Neruppu da..' in the background, it is all overwhelming!
Style = Rajini. Enough said.
3. That Laugh
Rajini's laugh is infectious. Like Tharumi Nagesh says to Sivaji, "தெய்வீக சிரிப்பய்யா உமது!" (Divine laugh is yours!).
Rajini is at his best, when the role has grey shades. Be it Kali in Mullum Malarum or Surya in Thalapathi or Manick Baasha in Baasha, Vettaiyan in Chandramukhi, Chitti 2.0 in Endhiran and so many other roles, he is in his element when he plays anti-hero or villain character. Here too, he is playing an ageing Don residing in Malaysia. The teaser has brought these shades well.
5. Sarcasm aka Nakkal
Another department he excels is comedy. His sarcasm is both wickedly humorous and seething. Remember, Endhiran's "Meh, Meh, Black sheep". This would be another one.
6. Fresh Execution
Since 1999, Rajini has only worked with top commercial directors like Shankar, K.S. Ravikumar, P. Vasu and Suresh Krissna. Out of 7 movies, 3 didn't do well including his last movie Lingaa (I'm excluding the animation movie here). He badly needed to break from his comfort zone to achieve better results, like how Amitabh Bachchan broke his mould. While speculating whether to go for K.V.Anandh or A.R.Murugadoss, he chose Pa.Ranjith out of the blue. While he has showed his mettle with offbeat movies like Attakaththi and Madras, can he pull off an out and out commercial movie? Or will he mix both commercial and offbeat elements in a superstar movie? Every fan might have become sceptical. Karthik Subbaraj may have been a terrific choice but Pa. Ranjith? I had a mild doubt.
Wow, how he shattered those doubts and naysayers, including me! He played it to Rajini's strengths and presented him in the best way possible. He had to meet so much expectations from his fans. But he casually went beyond anyone's imagination and threw some surprises too. Now, I have immense confidence in him that he can strongly pull off the complete movie. I am open for some offbeat Mullum Malarum/Johnny type treatment as well. I will be much more impressed if he does that.
7. Excellent editing
The national award winning editor K. L. Praveen must have put so much efforts he would put in a whole movie in this 1 minute teaser. He didn't reveal much about the story but showcased all the strengths about the movie. The teaser had all - an excellent opening, setting up the plot, villain picking a fight, hero playing to his strength and an exhilarating climax. People are replaying the teaser again and again, and Praveen is one of the main reasons.
8. Terrific BGM
Santhosh has set himself a signature style. Quirky, unexpected but interesting funky tunes and some heart warming melodies. He is not an amalgamation of anyone. He is Santhosh Narayanan. Yes, Ilayaraja's influence is there but who wouldn't be by that genius Isaignani? Anyway, the point here is that with just two words and an electrifying BGM, he made all of us sing 'Neruppuuu...da, Nerungguu...da" in our heads. It so perfectly sets for Rajini. Special mention - the singer Arunraja Kamaraj for his mirattal voice. In Jigarthanda, even for Bobby Simha, Santhosh' BGM was verithanam. I guess he might have had Superstar in his minds then. Now with the actual Superstar on the screen, he just went beyond kolaverithanam. I'm looking forward for the full track, especially his BGM score.
9. Good cinematography