First of all, I don't do movie reviews. I am the guy who just watches a movie and then maybe talks about it during lunch at work to avoid awkward silences. So, why am I writing this review about a movie I watched a half hour ago? Because you know, how sometimes when you have a near death experience, your perspectives change and suddenly you want to do all this good in life, save lives, be a better person? Yeah, I am in that zone right now. I have been hit by something powerful. And it's time to share it with the rest of my species.
Two months before today, I accidentally came across the trailer of Kabali on YouTube. I was immediately arrested by the killer original soundtrack for the movie. That's where it had begun, for me.
During a Rajinikanth movie, only his fans can make a sound. If you are a non-fan and say something mocking, well, leave the address to your coffin.
Every time I watched the trailer at home, I'd go on and on to my wife about how I would not miss this movie. I don't know why I had suddenly become such an aggressive fan of Rajinikanth. My mom was always a diehard fan, though. Two decades ago, I stumbled upon a large biology drawing book that had cut-out pictures and childlike hand-drawn sketches of him at my house in Bangalore. The book belonged to my mother. When I confronted her, she said that she was supposed to get rid of that book after marriage, but somehow it had come along with her. Super jealous of the superstar, my father would often mock Rajinikanth. I don't blame him. He was just an ordinary South Indian man born in a conservative family. He is well educated and open-minded, yes, but he is still a man. I mean, when my wife used to look at Jason Momoa's buttocks in Game of Thrones, I would run to the bedroom and do 50 squats and come out like I was all chill.
When you watch a Rajinikanth film, you better go to a local theatre. Not the multiplex ones where one is too shy to even release a silent fart. No, go to a local theatre. The kind where women best not venture. That's the kind of place where you will know what it is like to be a Rajini fan.
In these theatres, as the lights dim, a new wave of energy crackles to life. Whistles, throat-burning screaming, firecrackers, shirtless dancing on seats. The entire room becomes a five-dimensional stimulation ride. Your seats rock. The walls vibrate. You smell smoke. It's exhilarating to witness the madness, but deafening and annoying beyond a point as you can't hear shit. Because from the time Rajini's name pops up in the opening credits till the interval (where the fans begin to get a little tired), it's a war zone. You would be lucky if you came out of the theatre entirely unbroken.
P.A. Ranjith, before I forget, take this -- you suck. You suck big time... I still cannot digest that you completely omitted to show us Kabali's business model.
When you are watching a Rajinikanth movie, there is a 3000% chance that you will see something superhuman. Death-defying. Nonconforming to every law of nature. But you tell your mind to hush. During a Rajinikanth movie, only his fans can make a sound. If you are a non-fan and say something mocking, well, leave the address to your coffin.
Well, this time, I watched the film in a multiplex. Families and kids. So even if I had said something, I probably wouldn't have got my ass whooped. Still, I watched quietly and saved everything for my keyboard. So now I'm going to spill my shit out. Here, I am Spartacus. Unyielding. Veracious.
Being 2016, being Kabali, being Rajini, you'd think, mafia being the spine of the story, it'd have all the beef in the universe to make Martin Scorsese take note. The opening scene, is the ending scene. When will writers learn that when you are showing Rajinikanth to be the gangster (especially when he is being released from jail), you know for sure that all his enemy gangsters will be dead, no matter what! Keep a little surprise, man! Henceforth, I want Santa Claus to write all the scripts for Rajini movies.
The story takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's a beautiful city. But they decided to show only the dark world. The Tamils. Their dark skin. Their dark labour problems. Their dark mafia. In all of this darkness, the only contrast in the colour palette was the ostentatious bling that these gangstas flaunted from start to finish.
After all these great movies in the West about drugs and gangsters, you'd go on to have this divine hope that the Tamil industry would go easy on making every hero a superhero. But nope. First of all, what kind of a gangster is comfortable with only a handful of business associates who also moonlight as security? I comprehend the fact that it is Rajinikanth and he can take care of himself, but he is old now. Besides, he carries only one gun. Not even an extra magazine!
Radhika Apte, who plays Rajini's wife in the movie is a good actor. However, in this movie she is a bad actor.
When you are out of commission for 25 years, don't you need money when you come back? Don't you still need to be in business? Apparently, when Rajini is a gangster you don't need to do gangster business to earn money. You just have it all sorted. Somehow he is able to run a free school for drop outs, drug addicts and ex-gangster kids. The funny part is, he himself is a gangster and hires kids on his team. So the point is that when you are in Kabali's gangster squad, you don't need to be rehabilitated, life's all good.
P.A. Ranjith, before I forget, take this -- you suck. You suck big time. Basha, for that time, had so much more swag than you have managed to squeeze out of Kabali. To a gangster, his family is very important. I mean to all of us, families are important. But to a gangster, it's more of a prestige issue. If a gangster has let his enemy harm his family, it would convey that he is weak, incapable of protecting his own family . . . how then will he protect his business and other people who are dependent on him? But you could have involved his family saga in the movie in such a better way. There was no need for all the flashbacks. You have permanently ruined "once upon a time" for me.
I still cannot digest the fact that the director completely omitted to show us or explain Kabali's business model. Maybe every time Kabali and his men whimsically went after the villains and delivered some soggy dialogues the producers would give them some candy money? Also, I think Indian movies should stop making the villains troll the hero and his affiliated people with dummy guns. Can't take that shit anymore. If you want to shoot, just pull that plastic trigger and be done with it. Why do you have so many extras pointing all those useless toy guns at one old guy and still end up getting laid low by his stunt double?
The movie was a drab, unsexy 150-minute quest for finding his family, which he could very well have done without us having to sit and watch.
Radhika Apte, who plays Rajini's wife in the movie is a good actor. However, in this movie, she is a bad actor. When you have a bad script and a dumbass director, even a lion becomes a pig. I was happy to know that she was killed by the villains. Good riddance, I thought that's what she must have thought. But no, she was brought back from the dead 25 years later and made to run for her life again. What torture, marrying Kabali!
Dhansika has tried to play a version of Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but the result is extremely unpleasing. The director concluded, perhaps, that if she is a girl and an assassin, she's got to sport a punk bob cut and a lot of badly done temporary tattoos (which keep drastically changing and moving places). By the way, she is Kabali's daughter, who he reunites with. Sadly.
What's with the suit? I thought when you wore a suit, you had the license to kill. Oh, wait a minute! That was 007. In Kabali, if you wore a suit, well, you have the license to get killed.
The villain gangsters are real pussies, I tell you. I can't fathom why they are so scared of Kabali. He is just a vintage chap with a few old friends who masturbate on the rusted bullets in their guns. Then again, it is Rajini. He can get bin Laden to marry Gandhi if he wanted to.
Movies in the south always thrive on comedy. In Kabali, there is nothing to laugh about. Nothing to cry for. Absolutely nothing to rejoice about. The soundtrack was the only saving grace. The movie was a drab, unsexy 150-minute quest for finding his family, which he could very well have done without us having to sit and watch. I liked the free trailer on YouTube. Not the full movie I spent 200 bucks for. Kabali, no magizhchi for you.
Reminds me of the famous Bruce Lee quote: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." With all due reverence and respect for you as a great human being, I am afraid, Rajinikanth Sir, we are no longer afraid of your 10,000th kick. You have overdone it. It's the same kick and it doesn't give us any kick anymore. I know it's the directors asking you to do lame stuff, not you per se. However, you could say no to them, yes? Maybe make meaningful cinema? You have earned that. But not the right to disappoint us, after all that hype.
P.S. Watch out for Tony Stark. He makes a sensational cameo.