Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)
Star Cast: Rajinikanth, Radhika Apte
Director: Pa. Ranjith
What’s Good: You don’t dare to ask what’s good in a Rajinikanth film. It’s Rajni all the way!
What’s Bad: The pace of the film is going to be a major issue. A snail-speed screenplay pulls down this film.
Loo Break: Needed in certain repetitive scenes.
Watch or Not?: If you’re a Rajinikanth fan I bet you already have watched it. If you haven’t, gear up for 2 and half hours of Rajni swag but in slo-mo this time since the narrative wants you to be high on patience!
Like many movies starring Rajinikanth, this one too has a similar story. This time, set in Malaysia, the film deals with the plight of Tamil migrants in the area that has been captured by drug lords.
Kabali aka Kabaleswaran (Rajinikanth) is a worker who lives happily with his wife (Radhika Apte) and daughter (Dhansika).
Due to an ill fate, the innocent, hard-working man loses everything. How he fights back to save his world and also manage to help the downtrodden Tamilians in Malaysia, is what the story mainly revolves around.
After spending two decades in prison, how will Kabali seek revenge, get back his family and become the hope of those suffering is what you will see.
Being one of the most talked about films of the year, Kabali has a hell lot of expectations latched onto it. The film directed by P A Ranjith tries hard to set itself out of typical Rajni movies yet ends up in the same space.
The writer’s confusion to keep it highly commercial yet different is quite evident in how the film unfolds. This script is so temperamental that it truly puts you in a fix to judge it thoroughly.
The film’s first half takes off slowly, reeling you into the story. The makers take time to establish their Malaysia setting and the whole mafia angle, which may seem too slow a start for many. The pre-interval build up is extremely good with some much-awaited action coming up. The drama comes at this point, I’d say something people had been waiting for.
What many may not find likable is the emotional family angle. Disagreeing with them, according to me, Rajni’s best act in the entire film comes out when he meets his aged wife after years of grieving. It is this scene where he proves that he is much more talented an actor than his punchlines and funny dance moves.
There is again major action in the climax and that’s where all the whistling will be. Of course even in Rajinikanth’s entry scene, the whistles are so deafening that you may even miss the background score.
After a few mediocre films in between, we could say Rajinikanth is back. Even in his aged look, the actor packs a punch with just his presence on-screen. He does try to do things differently in this film and I’m not sure how well it will go with his fans who yearn to see him in pure commercial elements.
Radhika Apte once again shows us how talented she is with this film. Her mature act as Kabali’s wife is noteworthy. The scene where the duo meet after years could give you goosebumps.
Dhansika who plays Kabali’s daughter gives a performance worth taking a notice.
Nassar has a short role and he is quite spot on.
This is Ranjith’s third film and we can’t imagine the pressure on the director for casting a superstar like Rajinikanth. It seems it is this pressure itself that makes him lose his way in the film which is stuck between being highly commercial with its story and dialogues, but at the same time realistic with its setup.
The director’s narrative is slow-paced but strong, something not many will have patience for. He wants the audience to look at Rajni in a different manner yet not make him abandon his most sale-able side. It is this mismatch that keeps pulling the film down.
Watching Rajinikanth the flashback scenes as a 30 year-old with lots of make-up on is sort of cringe worthy but then again, that’s exactly what people want, I wish Ranjith had made it look a little better than what it is.
Cinematography is excellent and in fact a major highlight of the film.
Music on the other hand is average. The Kabali title track plays all through the film as a theme and gets extremely irritating after a point.
The Last Word
Kabali does not live up to its hype. In spite of Rajni’s smashing persona, the film fails to make an impact. A 2.5/5 for this Rajni ride