I was slated to see Rajinikant’s newest starrer KABALI in the afternoon and one of my close friends from Chennai sent this message to me in the morning: “Happy to note that you have managed to get tickets for KABALI for the first day’s show in Bangalore. I had a wonderful Darshan of KABALI here in Chennai in the morning and must tell you that it was a blissful experience indeed. Please let me know how you felt after your Darshan.” The two previous Rajini movies which I had seen and enjoyed were SIVAJI: THE BOSS and THE ROBOT (ENDHIRAN). In fact, I had ended up seeing ENDHIRAN twice over and had quite liked the presentation and the hit music created by AR Rahman. It was against this background that I had actually begun to look forward to KABALI.
Now that I have seen the movie, I was in two minds as to whether I should first review the marketing of KABALI or the movie itself. But the marketing happened first and therefore the review of the marketing should come first. One could say that Rajini’s brand has had a significant role to play, but leaving that aside, this would be a classic example of whipping up frenzy using innovative techniques (like the Air Asia special flight) and ensuring super high visibility and very large scale number of screens across the world. Added to that, the fact that the movie has been dubbed in Telugu and Malay languages, and sub-titled in English ensured a very large audience for a first time viewing. I would give this effort a rating of 5 out of 5.
Let me now come to the movie. But before that, I must share with you, a small anecdote about KABALI. I am not sure of the origin or the authenticity of this, but it helped me in the review process and hence I must share that with you. Some time back, the director Pa. Ranjith came across a script which he thought could be a base for a super commercial hit starring the Super Star and when he showed the script to the Super Star, Rajinikant is said to have commented: Killings and Brutalities Abound: Lousy Indeed! The director was a little disappointed at this, but the smart man that he was, he exclaimed in delight: Thalaiva! How wonderful! What a brilliant statement! The Super Star was flummoxed and before he could speak, the director continued: Rajini Sir, you are truly a great person! The first letters of what you have spoken taken together spells KABALI; another name for Lord Siva and I am now 100% certain that this has been ordained by none other than Lord Siva himself. Please, let us make this movie. And thus was KABALI born. And as was aptly described allegedly by Rajinikant himself, the script and story is full of killings and quite nonsensical. Having committed to the venture, the Super Star tries his very best to infuse some life through his mannerisms and dialogue delivery, but unlike in the movie, where characters survive after being dealt with by deadly blows and gunshot wounds, the movie is in a dud status for most of the time. Apart from the several loopholes in the story, what let me down badly was that slickness (which is taken for granted in today’s productions) is also absent. The only other personality to make an impact is Dhansika, who plays the role of the daughter.
Only after I had seen the movie, did I really understand what my friend from Chennai was trying to convey: he was referring to his Darshan of Lord Kabalishwara in Mylapore! I coudn’t blame him for my misunderstanding his teasing communication to me.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5
July 22, 2016