Kabali quick review: Rajinikanth makes this clichéd revenge story thrilling
The story of Kabali is simple and nothing you haven't seen before. It's driven entirely by Rajinikanth.
Kabali is a revenge drama, plain and simple. But when the protagonist is played by the Superstar Rajinikanth, can anything be that simple?
Just as you cannot take out Salman Khan’s personality from the films he stars in, you can’t help but be immensely aware of Thalaiva’s larger-than-life presence looming over Kabali.
In the very first scene, Rajinikanth gives his fans what they’ve come to the theatres to see — a stylish entry to the strains of the anthem ‘Neruppu Da’. He is Kabali — the ‘ultimate’ don, who gives the lie to his 65 years.
“Tamil padangal la inga maru vachikutu mesai murikutu lungi katikutu nambiyar, Hey Kabali apdi nu sonna odney guniji sollunga Yejaman apdi vandhu nipaney andha madhiri Kabali nu nenachi ah da, Kabali daa” the dialogue he utters has fans in the theatres cheering — and suddenly you are hit by a wave of nostalgia and emotion, with a deep change in mood.
Radhika Apte plays Rajinikanth’s wife in the film, and despite the obvious age difference between the actors, she somehow makes it work beautifully. She plays the part of the typical Tamil veetu ponnu so perfectly, but she is also a lot more than that, playing the solid backbone for Kabali.
In the first half, you see a lot of Kabali’s story in flashback.
Don Kabali has funded a school where children from all sections of society can access a quality education. But he is thrown by the question: Why did he take up a life of crime despite his respectable background?
We then flash back to a young Kabali. The transformation is smooth, and it nearly seems as though Rajinikanth has been cut out of his older films, and placed in this frame. Kumudhavalli (Radhika Apte’s character) and Kabali are the perfect couple.
But their perfect life is shattered; Kumudhavalli is assumed dead, and Kabali is held responsible by some (for which he has spent time in jail).
Cut to the present, where Kabali — although he isn’t aware of it — has a daughter (played by Dhansika). She, however, is working with some very bad guys, who want her father dead.
Will she carry out their wishes? Or will she and her father team up to extract vengeance on all those who did their family wrong?
We don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so no more plot details.
What we will say is this: Rajinikanth is finally playing his age on the big screen, and it makes for great viewing. Apart from the wig, this is the closest he has looked to real life in a film. There’s no desperate attempt to make him look decades younger than he really is, which has given some of Thalaiva’s previous films an air of unreality.
Rajinikanth delivers everything you expect from him — the classic punch lines, the style, and plenty of emotion. You may wonder at the logic in some of the scenes, but who cares about that when there’s so much Rajini magic going around? There are scenes where the actor emotes so well and spontaneously, which is exactly when we understand why every other character is a blur when he is around.
Every time he delivers one of his dialogues, you get the chills. The excitement sustains till the very end and major credit for that can be given to the background score. ‘Neruppu Da’ is constantly pumping your blood and strikes at all the right moments.
The story of Kabali is simple and nothing you haven't seen before. It's also clichéd in many aspects. But what drives it is Rajnikanth.
And it’s well worth another watch.
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