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 ut be immensely aware of Thalaiva’s larger-than-life presence looming overKabali.
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 lugi katikutu nambiyar. Hey Kabali apdi nu sonna odney guniji sollunga Yejaman apdi vandhu nenipaney andha mattri Kabali nu nenachi ah da,” the dialogue he utters has fans in the theatres cheering — and as you are hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia and emotion, you understand why.
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 vetti ponnu so perfectly, you’ll never think for a minute that she is anything but.
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 dies, 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 called Yogi (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 none of the 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? Every time he delivers one of his dialogues, you get chills.
The story of Kabali is simple and one we’ve seen many times before. It’s clichéd in many aspects. But what drives it is Rajnikanth.
And it’s well worth another watch.