*ing - Rajinikanth, Radhika Apte, Dhansika, Winston Chao, Dinesh Ravi, Kishore
A Rajinikanth movie release is a festival. You go to the theatres on the first day in USA and you see people wearing Rajinikanth, Kabali T-Shirts and that happens only for the phenomena called Rajinikanth and for no other actor, none! Such is the expectation for a Rajini movie release. Kabali release is no different. First Indian movie to premiere at the Le Grand Rex, first movie to have advertising posters in buses, let alone buses, there were posters in planes. Above all, many companies and even some big corporate houses declared the release day a holiday and that has never happened in the history of Indian cinema. Now, did the movie live up to the expectations it created. Lets analyze.
* Spoiler Alert *
Kabaleeshwaran a.k.a Kabali (Rajinikanth) is released from Malaysian prison after serving a 25 year sentence. He used to be a gangster who was also a do-gooder for the society. He comes back with revenge in his mind for the gangster counterparts who are responsible for the killing of his pregnant wife Kumudhavalli (Radhika Apte). The gangsters are Tony Lee (Winston Chao), Veerasekaran (Kishore) and Cheeni. Tony Lee and Veerasekaran wanted to eliminate Kabali after the latter is announced successor for big shot Tamilnesan (Nassar). After Kabali's release from prison, Veerasekaran hires an assassin Yogi (Dhansika) to kill Kabali. Does Yogi kill Kabali? Does Kabali get back at his rivals? The answer, and how Amir (John Vijay), Jeeva ('Attakathi' Dinesh Ravi) and Kumaran (Kalaiyarasan) help in his cause, form the rest of the movie.
Pa. Ranjith, who made his directorial debut with critically acclaimed Attakathi and went on to make another successful movie Madras, directs super star for his third. Ranjith is a fine story-teller. He describes the characters and scenes with at most care for it to be flawless. But the pace of the movie, the melodrama and the dialogues are not the strongest fortes for Ranjith. In Kabali too, the story though lacks a solid plot, is described cleanly but the pace takes a hit big time. The director takes his sweet time in building up the plot. Also, he has given his full attention to the action scenes and thrills that would evoke hoots and whistles from the audience, but misses out on the dramatic moments in the movie, be it happy ones or the sad ones. The dramatic scenes, both happy and sad, are shot so immaturely that the viewers can feel the awkwardness in the scenes and between the actors. Ranjith also should seriously think about having a separate dialogue writer rather than handling it by himself. The dialogues are crisp but very flat and but for a couple of scenes, they do not have the desired effect.
The character is tailor made for Rajinikanth and he feels totally at home doing the character. The laugh, the slow motion walk, the sarcasm and all the bells and whistles that a Rajini fan would expect is all there and done well. Apart from the "Kabali da" scene that is seen in the trailer, there is a dialogue that follows shortly after where Rajini asks "Kozhikari, eh?" shows the amount of ease with which he handles sarcasm. The same cannot be said for the dramatic scenes and that is mainly because of bad dialogues. Radhika Apte though the scope is less, has given a applause-worthy performance. The acting during the scene in pondicherry is top-notch. Dhaniska does what is required of her. She also shows some agility in the fight sequences. Attakathi Dinesh, Kalaiyarasan and John Vijay doesn't have much screen presence to act to their potential. Rithvika as Meena makes effective use of the character and small screen presence. The rest of the cast were just happy to share the screen with Rajinikanth. They didn't care much about their acting, neither did the director.
From the technical aspects, the background score by Ranjith's go to guy Santhosh Narayanan stands out. Songs are alright but he more than makes up for it in the background score. The action sequences by the director's regular stunt twins Anbu and Arivu are slick and realistic. Editing by K. L. Praveen is sharp in the first half but not so in the second. G. Murali Vardhan who handled cinematography for Ranjith earlier in Madras does a neat job in Kabali too.
Verdict: Rajinikanth's "Neruppu Da" might fall just short for the audience to say "Magizhchi"