Starring: Rajinikanth, Winston Chao, Radhika Apte
Music by: Santhosh Narayanan
Running time: 152 minutes
Kabali is an upcoming 2016 Indian Tamil-language gangster-drama film written and directed by Pa. Ranjith. The film stars Rajinikanth as the title character, whilst Taiwanese actor Winston Chao, Radhika Apte, Dhansika, Dinesh Ravi, Kalaiyarasan, and John Vijay star in other pivotal roles. Principal photography for the film began on 21 August 2015 in Chennai. While filming mostly occurred in Malaysia, smaller scenes were shot in Bangkok and Hong Kong. The film is slated for release on 22 July 2016.
In the film, Rajinikanth plays the role of an aged crime boss. Dinesh Ravi, who played the lead in Ranjith’s Attakathi (2012), and Kalaiyarasan, who played pivotal roles in both of the director’s previous films, were also confirmed to be part of the film. An important role was offered to Prakash Raj initially, but later it was said that the role was declined due to scheduling issues and John Vijay was cast for the role instead. It was later confirmed that the role of the lead character’s wife would be given to Radhika Apte, who was introduced to Tamil films through Dhoni (2012). Dhansika was signed to play a supporting character in the film.
The project Kabali evinced interest among the hordes of die-hard fans of Superstar Rajinikanth and other movie buffs right from the beginning – for, they were sure that this wasn’t going to be ‘another’ Rajini film with the star playing to the gallery, with his successfully tried-and-tested histrionics. With Pa Ranjith, who won appreciation from all quarters for his previous film Madras, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that Kollywood was waiting to witness an all-new Rajini, nay, in fact, the old Rajini, which many people felt they have been missing for many years. As his legions of fans were disappointed with his previous outing, Lingaa, which had the star trying to please his admirers with unconvincing romance, comedy and action, Kabali, undoubtedly, was going to be a ‘do or die’ game for both, the star and his fans. Has he made a ‘comeback’ (‘payback’ is the word fans have chanting for a while) this time, with more than enough reasons for his millions of fans to cheer? Let’s check out.
Kabaleeshwaran aka Kabali (Rajinikanth), who was born somewhere in Dindigul, is the messiah of Tamil labourers who work in Malaysia, after he fights for their primary rights and wages. His rise to an influential person in the society, in a short span of time, is now giving sleepless nights to a few, which further fuels jealousy and enmity towards Kabali. Veera (Kishore) is one among those jealous, and keeps hatching plans to destroy Kabali’s gang, and defame him publicly. He convincingly brainwashes an aide of Kabali and successfully turns him against the latter. After a violent gang war, which takes place unexpectedly, Kabali, being convicted of various false charges, ends up in jail.
Released after two-and-a-half decades, Kabali goes in search of his wife Kumudhavalli (Radhika Apte), who was pregnant when destiny separated them. He seeks the help of his old gang, including Ameer (John Vijay), who are more than happy to help him. Jeeva (Dinesh), an overly enthusiastic youngster, too, joins him as a loyal aide. Thamizh Kumaran (Kalaiyarasan), the son of a yesteryear aide of Kabali, who backstabbed the latter, is another person who promises to help the old Kabali, but is confused. Meanwhile, Veera is ruling the roost in the town, with his own empire and Tony (Winston Chao), one of the dreaded gangsters is his business partner. Will Kabali get his wife back? Will he be able to make up the years that he lost in jail? The suspense continues…
Though, with Kabali, most of the audiences were expecting a ‘Ranjith film which has Rajini’, it is the Superstar, like in most of his previous films, who carries the entire film in his shoulders, even though other actors shine in their respective roles. His scores of fans, needless to say, are in for a treat, watching him in, probably, the most stylish and dapper avatar in his recent outings. His majestic screen presence and the fast movements in intense sequences make the film watchable. Radhika, who has been cast opposite him is apt and their chemistry, their combination scenes, though only few, are convincing. Watching Yogi (Dhansikaa) is a delight, given her stylish makeover and ease in fight sequences. The climax of the film, however, is something that one least expects from a Rajini film. Just when viewers erupt with joy, with Thalaivar finishing off the baddies in style, there comes an unconventional twist.
As Ranjith isn’t a run-of-the-mill director, and is considered as someone whose screenplay and dialogues have hidden meanings, comparisons with his previous films are but in order. In Kabali, one shouldn’t expect the freshness in script and making style which his Madras offered. The flashback portions, on occasions, test one’s patience, and lack evenness. The songs by Santhosh Narayanan are soothing to watch on screen, too. The stunt sequences and shoot-out scenes choreographed by Anbarivu, with Rajini putting his best foot forward, is sure to give adrenaline-rush to his fans, and are, in fact, among the things that work in favour of the film, in addition to an emotional scene. The story, perhaps, needed a tighter screenplay, but watch it for ‘Thalaivar athiradi’. Nothing more, nothing less!