Saturday, July 23, 2016


Damp Squib

When a star is as big and powerful as Rajinikanth, he has a greater responsibility to pick his films with care. Just because his fans flock to every film he does, he should not allow his directors to throw him into substandard films in the hope that his superstardom will make them float.

Pa Ranjith’s Kabali is a plotless film that is still recycling tropes from The Godfather. The film is about two gangs in Malaysia, one is Indian led by Kabali (Rajinikanth) and the other led by Tony Lee (Winston Chao) a Chinese, with some Indian cohorts. The “nek chal chalan wale”  Kabali gangsters do not deal with drugs and flesh trade; the bad gangsters have no such qualms. However, murder and other crime is quite acceptable.

Kabali is the descendant of Indian farm workers in Malaysia and became a kind of union leader demanding equal rights for his people. After a carnage in which his pregnant wife (Radhika Apte) is shot, Kabali goes to jail for 25 years, and comes out grizzled and grey, but as powerful as before.  He has a quirk—he dresses in flashy suits and glares, and sits cross-legged like a king on a throne. Style maketh the man, he believes.

Except for a few quick punches, he doesn’t do much, except sneer and swagger, while his devoted henchmen do the actual work. Instead of plot or character development, the film spends an inordinate amount of time on scenes putting Kabali on higher and higher pedestals. 

The budget of the film could not have been inadequate, still, the look is incredibly tacky and most of the supporting actors look like amateurs picked off the streets.  For glamour there’s a short-haired female ‘assassin’ Yogi (Dhansika), who provides the twist in this sketchy tale.

Rajinikanth is undoubtedly charismatic, but Kabali is so senseless and boring, that it doesn’t deserve a star like him.


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