Kabali, game changer for Rajini and Ranjith

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Kabali, game changer for Rajini and Ranjith

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Who would have guessed that a two film old creator, would make a movie with the Super Star and that too without compromising the Hero's image?
The movie is as the title suggests the story of KABALI. I liked the movie immensely after the first watch. I wasn't even expecting a Basha or Sivaji, after seeing Ranjith’s interviews and comparisons with Mullum Malarum. I thought I was ready to accept a good film from this combination. On the lines of Madras. When I started seeing the movie, I realised, who was I kidding? I wasn't really ready to see Kabali. I was in there to witness RAJINI.


But then there were just flashes of the Rajini that I am used to watching (mostly the stunt sequences). Initially, I felt it was a half -baked film. A  Ranjith film with few Rajini elements. I wanted to like the film sooo badly, but something was missing. The film didn't seem wholesome and found few scenes to be contrived to propel the story forward.


Days passed, and the mixed feelings started to settle. The news that KABALI 's collection was hundreds of crores all over the world, filled my heart with joy. The movie warranted a second watch. This time at least, I knew what to expect.

6th day. This was the first time I viewed the movie as it should have been, as a normal film. This time, everything seemed so obvious.


• I wasn't in a doubt about the theme of the movie anymore. It was about the fight for the oppressed Tamizh race in Malaysia by the Malay and the Chinese. MJ style dressed dancers in Ulagam Oruvanukka whilst anti-racism theme lyrics were heard, are some subtle and enjoyable references.

• I wasn't second guessing half the words they used (Since it was a second-time watch, and there were apt English subtitles.. even for every laugh of Rajini..whether it is a 'smug laugh', or 'joyous laugh' or 'contended laugh' ). On the first watch, the words were soo specific in Malay-Tamil lingo, that our mind dismissed them every time we heard them (even so they were used repetitively). Few examples are:
SAAVADI: Fantastic/ Amazing
KATTI: Crack cocaine or something similar
KATTA: Gun / Fire arms
PONNA: Greater amount

• Dialogues such as ' unnoda indha karunai, adhoda saava vida kodumai anadhu' at the pet shop, are tiny bits which shall remain in our hearts forever. Kozhi kari fight scene sets the movie going.

• The long monolog of LOGU to KABALI, before he gets rammed, is critical, as it reveals the possibility of KUMUDHA being alive somewhere. The next scene is beautifully brought to context over an L Cut, where KABALI asks to find VELU, and tears his image to reveal KUMUDHA's.

• The second time, I wasn't trying to guess who the daughter of KABALI would be or who is going to back stab him. Instead, I was looking for a connection between the characters, and their interlinking within the story.
EX: TONY LEE is the son of PONG LEE (Don like TAMIZHNESAN. Works under ANG LEE). PONG orders VEERA SEKHAR to kill TAMIZHNESAN, and promotes VEERA to NESAN's place which is when KABALI shoots PONG and does the famous retro walk with TAMIZHMAARAN behind him, leading to the Veera Thurandhara song.

• By this time, I was hooked onto the film and followed every shot of the song as I paid attention to the lyrics, which is a narration of how he gained popularity over the other dons. This was one of the parts that I thought, was a bit weak, the first time I watched it. I was wrong. There is a dialogue in the middle of the song that goes like, ' TAMIZHNESAN ayya sagala. Unga roopathla enga koodaye daan irukaru' to KABALI, as the face of TAMIZHMAARAN shrinks in jealousy. CLASS!

• I couldn't stand the audacity of MEENA (junkie Rhythvika) when she made scathing remarks on Rajini's skin tone and looks, the first time. But the second time I was unperturbed, as the question was directed at a don, who had been in prison since MEENA was born and she had no fear of teasing someone like him. THIS question of her's created the great opportunity for Rajini to address the attractiveness of the black skin and for a beautiful establishment of KUMUDHA's love for KABALI. (Un karuppu colour ah eduthu, en udamba full ah poosikanum).

• Another important prelude to the climax gunshot is when TAMIZH MAARAN invites KABALI and wife to the Maduraiveeran temple, where the Lord possesses a devotee who stands on a large sickle and says that nothing would happen to KABALI as long as his WIFE is with him.
Thus KABALI wouldn't die in the climax if he was shot, or it would probably be KUMUDHA who would be shot, or TIGER shoots himself or someone else. In any circumstance, KABALI-2 should star Rajini if it happens.

• KUMUDHA almost dies. TAMIZHMARAN is killed in front of his son. KABALI is arrested and TONY LEE stunts a death in a car crash.

• As VELU is killed, YOGI saves her real Appa, and KABALI discovers his daughter. The beautiful highspeed shots of the epic gun fire action sequence is where SANTHOSH NARAYANAN proves his musical genius. Absolutely beautiful transitions by PRAVEEN and SANTHOSH, to and from, the fight and KABALI's yearning for his family.

• Heart wrenching when YOGI calls KABALI, 'appaa'.. What perfect casting !! Dhansika totally makes us buy that she is Rajini's daughter. Just when we fall in love with the film, Ranjith puts five bullets into KABALI's body. My blood was boiling the first time I saw it. I was cursing Ranjith as much as I could for making RAJINI fall prey soo easily and suddenly. BUT, not the second time, Now my spine was chill, and I was just soo immersed into the plot, I was feeling for KABALI and forgot Rajini. Yes, it happened.

• Rajini wasn't forgotten for long, as Ranjith resurrects him back with no exposure to how it happens.I guess that is the only moment in the film where somebody reminded Ranjith, that he was writing for Super Star.

• The poignant scenes between YOGI and her appa fill our eyes with the Rajini we've always wanted to see. He literally breathes life into the character when he learns about KUMUDHA being alive and traced to her location. Shots where KABALI bites his nails in anxiety, shows us a Rajini we haven't seen for really long. The Rajini that's vulnerable. And then the scene where KABALI meets KUMUDHA !!! RADHIKA APTE melts our heart and streams it through our eyes. It is probably THE SCENE that puts the movie in a completely different league of it's own, The following Maya Nadhi just keeps tugging at our heart as we see our beloved Thalaivar sheepishly disheveling the blanket KUMUDHA had just laid. What a delightfully lovely pair who gauge our eyes as the song goes, ' thooya narayilum.. kadhal malarudhe'..

• The raw action that follows, brings us back to the other plot; and the airport scene where the Tamizh Police ignores the introduction of KUMUDHA and advises KABALI to stay low, leads the movie into the final act.

• The interlinking of AMIR calling JEEVA, as a truck rams into his gaadi, and later where JEEVA is shown answering AMIR's call while on the run  from TONY LEE's men shows how even simple beats are made soo much more interesting when narrated non linearly. Special mention to the stunning death action scene of JEEVA. Also the one where AMIR is shown to be getting the bakery ready with the help of MEENA, before he gets taken down, and the POLICE CHIEF opening the same bakery after the death of TONY LEE, is some food for thought. Though it may be a scene to just complete MEENA's arc, it could also be a prelude left for understanding major events in KABALI 2.

• Flawless action sequence of ANG LEE's 100th birthday is a delight and the ' Suit Poduven da 'dialogue metaphor, is just as hard hitting as what it symbolically means.

Huge RESPECT to Ranjith for using Rajini as a tool, to carve a film that is a TRUE to the life of the gangster named KABALI, who fought for his people. Every mass scene in the film, seems to be for KABALI, and not for Rajini. At least that is how it seems the second time around.


This film is really about the two emotions of KAALI from Mullum Malarum. The anger against society and the love for his family. The two emotions have separate plots in Kabali, motivated by each other.


Thank you Ranjith for redefining commercial cinema in Tamizh industry.

Akash Athrey
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