Kaala's antagonist Nana Patekar holds key to film's success: Tracing memorable villains in other Rajinikanth movies

Surendhar MK

June 06, 2018 15:46:55 IST

Over the years, great filmmakers have often stressed the importance of a strong villain character to define their heroes. With Rajinikanth's Kaala gearing up for a worldwide release on 7 June in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi, the fan frenzy and the mass hysteria on social media platforms is palpable. There's also a considerable exchange of views on whether the role of the multiple national award-winning actor Nana Patekar, who is pitted against superstar in the film, would live up to the expectations of the legions of Thalaivar fans.

From Neelambari in Padaiyappa and Mark Antony in Baasha to the sensational Chitti in Enthiran, Rajinikanth's movies have produced some of the greatest and memorable villain characters in Tamil cinema. However, his last two films — the KS Ravikumar-directed Lingaa and Pa. Ranjith's Kabali — had cardboard character arcs for villains, played by Jagapathi Babu and the Taiwanese actor Winston Chao respectively.

Nana Patekar and Rajinikanth in Kaala. Screenshots from the film's trailer.

While Jagapathi Babu delivered a forgettable performance as MP Nagabooshan in Lingaa, which failed to set the cash registers ringing, Winston Chao's role as Tony Lee, an industrialist, and kingpin of Malaysian underworld, in Kabali, turned out to be lazily written and caricaturish.

In the last three decades, Rajinikanth's films like Annamalai, Muthu, Baasha, Padaiyappa, Sivaji and Enthiran to name a few, had formidable roles written for antagonists and each one of them emerged as a blockbuster success at the ticket window. The Suresh Krishna-directed Baba, which released after Padaiyappa in 2002, was declared a box-office disaster and Rajinikanth had compensated distributors for the losses incurred. The film featured Ashish Vidyarthi in an eminently unexciting role of Deputy CM Ippo Ramasamy.

That's why the role of Nana Patekar as Harinath Desai in Kaala could be one of the critical deciding factors to break or make the film, besides other essential components that decide the movie's commercial success. While it would be unwise to doubt the acting credentials of a stellar veteran actor of Nana Patekar's stature, the onus is on Pa Ranjith to deliver a solid, noteworthy villain role for Rajinikanth fans.

Also read: Pa Ranjith on how he handled the politics in Kaala and Rajinikanth's contrasting political ideology

Rajinikanth has already showered lavish praise on Nana Patekar's role in the film, which is produced by Dhanush's home banner Wunderbar Films and presented by Lyca Productions in Tamil Nadu. Speaking at the audio launch of the film, Rajinikanth had said, "In my career, Antony in Baasha and Neelambari in Padayappa are the two powerful villains. Now, Hari Dada (Nana Patekar) is my third favorite antagonist. Nana has delivered an impeccable performance. Even Bollywood filmmakers say that it’s not an easy task to work with Nana Patekar but Ranjith extracted the work with his love."

Although Nana Patekar is not someone who is new to Tamil audiences, he is not a popular face for Kollywood moviegoers who have frequently seen other actors from the north predominantly appear in negative roles like Sonu Sood, Rahul Dev, Sayaji Shinde, Ashish Vidyarthi and Mukesh Tiwari. Nana Patekar made his Tamil film debut in veteran filmmaker Bharathiraja's Bommalattam, where he shared screen space with Action King Arjun. Bommalattam sank without a trace at the box-office. Now, Kaala marks Nana Patekar's second Tamil film.

Kaala posters via Twitter

Kaala poster via Twitter

The chief technicians of Kaala, a few of whom Firstpost has interviewed, have all highlighted how brilliant Nana Patekar would be in the movie. Cinematographer Murali had said how Nana Patekar and Rajinikanth have both delivered compelling performances."It was a feast to witness Rajini sir, and Nana Patekar perform on the sets. We could see them keenly observing each other's acting skills to come up with a better performance. They both have a strong screen presence," Murali told Firstpost.

Nana Patekar had earlier said that it was Rajinikanth who convinced him to play the antagonist role in Kaala. When Rajinikanth, who started his career by playing villain roles before turning into a full-fledged lead hero in Bairavi, vouches strongly for an antagonist character, it brings a lot of hope indeed.

Also starring Huma Qureshi, Anjali Patil, Eswari Rao, Samuthirakani and Sakshi Aggarwal in important roles, Kaala has music composed by Santhosh Narayanan.

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 15:46 PM