KABALI (2016)

kabali 5Kabali violently oscillates between being a roaring entertainer in the truest Rajni image and a hamming exhausting piece of overdone pseudo sentimental muck. The film’s fate was totally dependent on which of it, it was more and unfortunately it’s more of the later than the previous. I have to admit that I enjoyed Lingaa much more than this film. People panned Lingaa across India. Even in Tamil Nadu it wasn’t a hit but Kabali has hit the jackpot from the very first show. I totally fail to understand why. If it was star power then Lingaa should have been a bigger hit. Here is a film that shows Rajnikant in his truest age in a long time. It had the potential to showcase multiple facets of the man but unfortunately ends up being an old man’s search for a wife for so long that you lose interest in the basic premise involving a blood feud between gangs.

Kabali (Rajni) is released from prison after two decades. He comes back to his area in Malaysia where he literally Kabali (1)was the law of the land. He is the savior for the Tamils who are subjugated by the Chinese and the locals alike. Upon his return he starts off settling things that went haywire when he was gone. The biggest of the problems being drugs. It was also one of primary reasons for him being double crossed and implicated for murder and causing riots two decades ago. The villains who had the better of him are back too and are much more powerful now. Upon his return he also remembers his past in a long flash back that introduces us to his younger self and his wife played by Radhika Apte. Post the flashbacks, he gets multiple clues to the fact that his wife and daughter might still be alive, who he had presumed dead for so long. He is quickly reunited with his daughter and then the hunt begins for the mother. This is where the film goes downhill.

Kabali (3)The portion involving the search for the wife is extremely irrelevant to us the viewers. It may be a matter of importance for Kabali but what the viewers were more invested in was how Kabali would end the drug cartel and bring the men who destroyed his life to justice. the proceedings do take you there to start with and then suddenly post the father daughter re-union, the revenge is completely forgotten. Kabali enjoys parental bliss, suffers through an assassination attempt and then goes after looking for his wife. All this happens at a snail’s pace and with minimum involvement of the audience. Post their re-union there is still no emotional connect between the audiences and the characters. These are some of the reason that really take down the film.

The film does recover a bit towards the end but the final blitz is not enough to make you forget the boredom thatKabali (1) you have come through all this while. Rajni is in full flow but the material is so mediocre that even his charisma is not enough to elevate this film. I really loved his act in the first  fifteen – twenty minutes of the film. Even in the climax he oozes his famous charm. He does move well for someone his age and the spark is still very much present. Radhika Apte is cast in a role that could have been done by anyone. She doesn’t add anything to the role. Ironically, in every film that she has had a major role in, Apte has always added something extra to her character. But not here. Dhansika plays his daughter Yogi an she is used like a prop at best.

Kabali (4)What this film needed was a lot more action and chase sequences. Some stylish Rajni antiques and the story needed to concentrate on the revenge and feud between Kabali and the villains. It would have also served better to kill of Radhika Apte’s character and add it as a reason for Kabali to go after the antagonists. Something that was done so very well in Amitabh Bachchan’s Aakhri Rasta. But unfortunately that is not the case here. Kabali is a huge disappointment for me. I am a big Rajni fan and I wait for the superstar’s films and that too with humongous expectations. The problem in this film was more with the direction and story than with Rajni’s essay. Overall Kabali is an insipid and boring affair with flashes of brilliance here and there which are in no way enough to satisfy the viewers.

Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)

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